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Mayor Michael Coleman Outlines Neighborhood Improvements

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman reflected on how far the city has come and where he wants to take it during his 11th State of the City address Wednesday night at the Lincoln Theatre.

Mayor Coleman used a photo slide show of major city areas to show the progress the city of Columbus has made in a decade.

Coleman spoke as he stood on the stage of the renovated Lincoln Theatre on East Long Street, a once a thriving entertainment showpiece of the near downtown neighborhood. Coleman says he wants to reconnect the area to downtown Columbus decades after it was cutoff by Interstate 71. He announced the Ohio Department of Transportation supports the plan.

"Just like the short north the east side will be reconnected by a platform, strong enough to support buildings and businesses and most of all jobs. And until a developer steps up the cap will be green space," Coleman said.

While there is no word on how much the plan will cost Coleman maintained it will create thousands of jobs and be the largest highway cap in ODOT history.

Outside of the Lincoln Theatre about a dozen protesters of the neighborhood renovation marched with signs. Protester Erica Connor says old residents are being forced out.

"How does it suddenly become a great viable community when all the black people are gone why can't it be a viable community with all the African American black people here," Connor said.

Inside, Mayor Coleman also thanked Columbus citizens for supporting an income tax hike to close a budget deficit of 100 million dollars. He says that has helped the city hire new police officers and firefighters. The Mayor also showed his strong support for a new patrol reform plan to reorganize city precincts and reassign Columbus officers. The plan has come under fire by the police union. "More officers when you need them the most and more flexibility to react when crime is on the move in any neighborhood. This should not be a revolutionary idea," Coleman said.

While resident Luzviminda Calo is pleased the King Lincoln District is undergoing improvement she also expressed her concern.

"The taxes you know it's really I'm upset with how things are starting to increase in cost because we have a lot of people who are on limited incomes here you know the elderly in particular," Calo said.

South side resident, Allen Carrel sat in the Lincoln Theatre waiting to hear what is new for the south side.

"All the other areas North, West are getting something, East, but the south end of Columbus needs a revitalization," Carrel said.

Mayor Coleman also stressed that city workers will be going full steam on filling potholes next month and he vowed to implement a citywide recycling program by 2012 to help slow down landfill use.