Columbia's Mill District seeks clean-up, revitalization

Published: Apr. 27, 2016 at 9:23 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2016 at 10:27 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Residents in Columbia's Mill District area may soon be getting what they have been waiting for – change, and the county and city are asking for their input.

It's a neighborhood where conditions got a little out of control. Even residents who are working to keep up with it say the issue isn't a new one.

It's called the Imagine Mill District Workshop.

We drove through the area earlier, finding poor conditions residents say have been this way for years. Many homes that are abandoned now plague the area, and potholes take over the roads in the Olympia neighborhood.

County officials say Wednesday night's meeting was an effort to gain a vision for the future straight from the community. After speaking with residents who have lived there for nearly 32 years, they say they love the area, but it needs work.

Linda Deese says she's started buying vacant properties in an effort to make them beautiful again. She says it's a work in progress, but one that is already making a difference. She hopes the county and city will get on board.

"I think if people would take the time to re-do some of these houses, this would be a beautiful area here," Deese says. "You have the football stadium, you have the baseball stadium. There are people up and down the street all day long. I think it would be a great neighborhood if someone would come in or enforce the rules of what needs to be done."

"I think particularly here for the culture and historical value it's important to re-establish the community," neighborhood planner Latoisha Green says. "There have been words with the county and city to do things with those properties that are abandoned and with roads. This plan would prioritize those efforts to actually put funding and attention back into these neighborhoods."

"Just the general cleanup through this area. All of these streets Maryland, Ohio, Texas from this street over, it is just a mess," resident Justin Foore says. "It needs to be cleaned up."

County officials in charge of the plan say neighborhoods go through ups and downs. This is one of them. Aside from the general clean-up, many residents say it's not a safe area. There are no speed limit signs or street lights at night.

The last time there was a plan for the neighborhood was in the 1980's. There's another meeting Thursday at 7:30 a.m.

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