Near East Area Commission

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Near East Area Commission

History of the Near East Area

(Source: The Near East Area Plan, June 1995)

The original town of Columbus, laid out in 1812 by Joel Wright, occupied the area bounded by Nationwide Blvd. (North Public Land), Livingston Avenue (South Public Lane), Parsons Avenue (East Public Lane), and Scioto River (West Public Lane). The Near East area is approximatley 2.5 square miles in size and located directly east of the original city.

The relatively slow growth of Columbus changed by the end of the Civil War when large numbers of people came to the city. At that time major modes of transportation were foot, and horse and buggy. Carriage houses and stables built among the early residential communities still exist in areas of the Near East side.

With the invention of the streetcar, public transit could expand beyond the "walking city." Street car suburbs sprang up along extended sections of Long, Main and Broad Streets, and Mount Vernon Avenue. By the turn of the century, a streetcar line ran from Fair Avenue to the Ohio State Fairgrounds, then located at what is now Franklin Park. Alum Creek was the edge of town, and the Near East area was one of most prestigous and weatlhy communities in Columbus.

The residential area adjacent to Main Street was farmland. The land between Kimball and Linwood Avenues was part of a farm owned by Mr. Kimball who was highly active in the Underground Railroad. Some semblence of these former farm tracts can be seen in the layout of the building located at the corner of Main Street and Parsons Avenue (formerly a School for the Blind).

The change from farmland to subdivision began in the 1870's. By the end of WWI, the community housed a diverse group of residents. During the 1920's the Near East area emerged with an identity of its own as a community of neighborhoods.The 1920's saw the rise of a commercial, social, and political base within the community. The area near Hamilton Park and Long Street developed into a wealthy African-American neighborhood complete with shops, theaters, offices, restaurants, along with jazz clubs and lounges.

The portion of the Near East area known as the "Blackberry Patch" was an area where many blackberries grew and poor African-Americans lived. By 1941 one of the nation's first public housing projects, Poindexter Village, was built on the former site of the "Blackberry Patch."

The community emerged from WWII intact. Widespread interest in the automobile changed the Near East area. Sprawling suburbs with acres of home sites augmented by regional shopping centers sprang up around the city. The suburbs lured inner city residents away from the older community.

By 1950, much of the housing stock that had served the wealthy of the previous generation was showing signs of deterioration. Many older homes were subdivided into apartments or rooming houses. The Eastgate Subdivision, a suburban-type residential neighborhood located in the Near East area, was built in the 1950's.

During the 1960's construction of interstate highways cleared vast sections of the Near East area, significantly reducing the amount of housing stock available and forcing many families and residents to relocate. As a result, the community experienced a major period of readjustment. To this day, the freeways play a mojor role in the isolation of the Near East area from the surrounding city and its services. Also during the 1960's, the Model Cities Program further exacerbated the destruction and demolition of the housing stock in the community.

The area experienced extreme social strife. Portions of the Near East area suffered the loss of additional housing stock to arson and vandalism. Quaint brick streets were paved over, and many residnets and buisiness persons, who had remained through other hardships, fled the turmoil and violence of the late 1960's.

By 1970 portions of the Near East area had survived virtually intact while other areas appeared desolate and derelict. A variety of housing and rehabilitation programs were used as tools to revitalize the most needy of the areas. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program encouraged rehabilitation of single-family housing by the end of the 70's. Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization (NCR) areas were formed on Main Street, Long Street, Parsons Avenue, and Mount Vernon Avenue.



The Near East Area Commission was created by Columbus City Council in 1979 under Chapter 3328 of the Columbus City Code.

The mission of the Near East Area Commission is to advocate for and serve the residents and citizens who live and work within the boundaries of the NEAC area. In doing so, we recognize that the NEAC area is a diverse community.

NEAC fulfills its mission by carrying out the following responsibilities:

1. Identifying and studying the problems and requirements of the Near East Area.

2. Aiding and promoting communications within the Near East Community as well as between it and the rest of the Columbus Metropolitan area.

3. Initiating, reviewing and recommending criteria and programs for the preservation, development and enhancement of the Near East Area.

4. Recommending priorities for and reviewing the adequacy of government services and the operations of various government departments in the Near East Area.

5. Reviewing all applications for and related to proposed development and demolition within the Near East Area.


The meeting schedule for the Near East Area Commission is as follows:

General Business Meeting - second Thursday, 6:30 P.M. 12th Precinct Community Policing Center 950 E. Main St.

Zoning Meeting - third Tuesday, 6:30 P.M. 12th Precinct Community Policing Center, 950 E. Main St.

Planning Meeting third Thursday, 6:30 P.M. 12th Precinct Community Policing Center, 950 E. Main St.

Please note: The Zoning Committee schedules additional site review meetings that are conducted at the location for which the rezoning or variance is requested. These are scheduled as we receive applications.


Each NEAC Commissioner is responsible for attending the monthly general business meeting and participating on one of the two committees.
The following is a list of commissioners, current as of July 2014:

Kathleen Bailey - Chair
Annie Ross-Womack - Vice Chair
Margaret Cooley - Secretary
Willis Brown - Treasurer


District I

Jonathan Alexander

Willis Brown

Dana Moessner

District II

 Lela Boykin

Timothy Brownlee

Jaqueline Downey

District III

Robert Fitrakis

Emily Prieto


District IV

Kathleen Bailey

Antoinette Savage

K.T. Smith


Business - Michael Woods

Business - RIckey Duckett
Education - Margaret Cooley
Human Services - Annie Ross-Womack
Religion - Patricia Dismon

Neighborhood Committe Members:

Planning - Baba Olugbala

Planning - Yal Guezannac

Planning - Lynn Harris

Planning - Willie Tatum

Zoning - Kate Curry-DaSouza

Zoning- Monette Friedlander

Zoning - Joe Weingart

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