What Columbus Needs: Needful Things

Dave Ghose
Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court

Columbus Monthly has received more than 1,500 suggestions for how the city can improve itself since launching What Columbus Needs in 1996. Some topics (transportation, education) are perennial challenges. Other ideas are shooting stars, bursts of imagination (some brilliant, some not so much) that seem to come out of nowhere. And a few suggestions, believe it or not, are actually achieved. Here's a progress report on a handful of ideas from our four previous surveys.

Mission Accomplished

Bring big-time pro sports to Columbus (1996)

Yes, the NHL is the least popular of the four top North American professional sports, but Columbus did finally enter the major leagues (no offense Clippers and Crew) when the Blue Jackets took the ice for the first time in 2000. Interestingly, no survey respondent pined for an NBA, NFL or MLB franchise this year, as they have in previous surveys, while the Blue Jackets were enjoying their best season in team history.

A Rose Bowl win (1996)

An antiquated achievement in the collegiate football playoff era, but the Buckeyes did end their 23-year Rose Bowl drought in 1997 and won another one in 2010.

Elect an Ohio governor from Columbus (2001)

In January 2011, Westerville resident John Kasich became the first Ohio chief executive from the Columbus area since Jim Rhodes left office in 1983.

Organize a weekly food-truck event at the Columbus Commons (2011)

The Columbus Downtown Development Corp. hosts Food Truck Food Court every Thursday from spring through fall at the park.

Making Progress

Improve Downtown (1996, 2001, 2006, 2011)

Some respondents would still like to see more life Downtown, but it's clearly not the empty hole it used to be thanks to the building boom of recent years.

Lose weight (2001)

Columbus no longer appears at the top of the various lists of the fattest U.S. cities, but it's still hard to consider us lean and mean when we continue to stuff our faces every summer at Huntington Park's Dime-a-Dog nights.

A new Downtown skyscraper (2011)

A 35-story residential and office high-rise has been proposed for the North Market parking lot, while a pair of 30-story residential towers are envisioned for the East Franklinton area across the river from Downtown. “We've been rebuilding the five- and six-story, red-brick city that we tore down to get all these parking lots,” says Columbus architect Bob Loversidge. “Pretty soon, as they fill in, we'll start going up again.”

Clean up the Scioto River (2011)

The Scioto Greenways project and the removal of the Main Street dam have allowed the river to flow freely again, resulting in a more natural and healthier waterway through the center city, though pollution remains a problem.

Going Nowhere

Be more like Venice, Italy (1996)

Gondola traffic remains a rarity in Columbus.

More sunshine and less humidity (1996)

We receive the same amount of sunshine as we have for the past million years or so—and climate change isn't helping with the humidity.

A public clown (2006)

Civic leaders haven't gotten behind the idea of a government-sanctioned jester, though periodically there are plenty who appear to be auditioning.

Realize life doesn't revolve around Ohio State football (2011)

The public-clown idea seems more likely.