PDT Staff Writer
The Scioto County Health Coalition is coordinating the community and economic development of the “gateway” into Portsmouth, which is Scioto Trail and U.S. 52. The goal of the Coalition is to improve Scioto County’s health rankings, which includes economic factors.
In 2012, Scioto County had an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent, compared to a state rate of 10.1 percent. Rates of children in poverty are at 32 percent, compared to a state average of 23 percent. The short-term strategic goal of the “Gateway Project” is to revitalize the main routes through Portsmouth, to improve the perception of the city to encourage outside investment in Scioto County.
According to the Coalition, people traveling through Portsmouth see dilapidated houses, vacant homes boarded up, overgrown vacant lots, empty businesses and blight. The Coalition is bringing together citizens, government, volunteer organizations and businesses to address this targeted area and provide hope for future projects.
Portsmouth Health Commissioner Chris Smith said the “gateway” area consists of Scioto Trail from the Portsmouth City limits to U.S. 52 East. The area also consists of U.S. 52 both East and West, from the Portsmouth City limits near OSCO to the New Boston Village limits. The area is defined as all city parcels adjacent to the stated streets.
The Coalition describes the area as presently mixed commercial/residential with poor residential housing stock. The project is being implemented with a goal of rezoning the entire area as commercial but with the consideration of apartments over businesses, as opposed to encouraging new residential properties.
“Both streets are the most heavily trafficked within the city and will never be ideal for a residential community,” Smith said. “The Walnut Street area and Scioto Trail are more heavily residential, and all efforts will be made to improve the neighborhoods for the present residents and preserve neighborhoods that are still intact. This is still in the planning stage, the Portsmouth City Planning Committee will be the group that decides the best long-term use of the area, to promote business but also provide adequate housing, and protect our current housing stock.”
The Coalition said a specific timeline is not being created, as they will be moving as quickly as possible, within financial and personnel constraints. However, the funding will need to be expended by Dec. 31 so that will be their absolute deadline. As the project progresses, monthly deadlines will be assigned as needed.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.