Weinland Park finally turning the corner

By Rita Price, Columbus Dispatch

Though the Weinland Park survey focused on residents’ perceptions, it also includes demographic data. The overall makeup of Weinland Park’s 4,400 residents didn’t change much in six years — a little more than half the residents are black and nearly 90 percent are renters.

Still, “There are very different groups with very different types of stories to tell,” said Zachary Kenitzer, a researcher with OSU’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, who led the survey project.

For example, researchers created maps that show how differently black and white residents of Weinland Park perceive safety in the neighborhood. Black respondents felt more unsafe in the East Village area along East 11th Avenue, the South Campus Gateway near the OSU campus, the community’s namesake park and the area around the Kroger store at North High Street and East 7th Avenue.

White respondents, meanwhile, said they feel less safe in the interior of the neighborhood.

“It asks where do you feel safe, and where do you feel unsafe, but not why,” said Robin A. Wright, one of the OSU researchers. “It all boils down to perceptions.”

A bright spot, Wilkos and others say, is that low-income respondents felt strongly that they had a voice in neighborhood decisions. Resident engagement remains high.

“There is this collective neighborhood psychology that’s really important,” he said. “Everybody in a neighborhood has a gift to give.”

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The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity was established in 2003 as a center for interdisciplinary research at The Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute works to create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.