Dispatch Mobile Newsroom: Telling stories in Columbus neighborhoods – The Columbus Dispatch

Science & Technology

A century ago, Driving Park was synonymous with bustling streetcars carrying passengers along Livingston Avenue and horses — and then race cars — speeding around a track that gave the neighborhood its name.
The Near East Side community –– bordered by Interstate 70 to its north and east, Linwood Avenue to the west and East Whittier Street to the south –– was among the city’s first streetcar suburbs. Trolley lines were built to extend into what used to be outlying areas of Columbus. 
Blight and crime have plagued the neighborhood for decades, but residents are hopeful that the expansion of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and improvements along Livingston Avenue will renew the area.
That’s one reason why Driving Park is the most recent stop on the Mobile Newsroom, the Dispatch’s traveling effort to base more reporters in the community and report more fully on underrepresented neighborhoods. 
Instead of going to our Downtown office to work each day, a couple of Dispatch reporters work from the Columbus Metropolitan Library branch in a specific Columbus neighborhood for about a month.
This month, reporters Erica Thompson and Mark Ferenchik are working from the Driving Park branch on Livingston Avenue. These reporters, plus other Dispatch journalists, will explore Driving Park and its neighboring communities.
The purpose of the Mobile Newsroom — whose first stop was in Northland at the Karl Road Branch library — is to position journalists in an underserved area so that we can get to know residents, organizations, religious groups, business owners and the entire neighborhood better. This is part of our initiative to be more intentional about representing the entire community and the rich diversity of this city in our coverage.
In short, we’re hoping to build relationships and tell good stories. Here’s what we’ve learned so far in Driving Park:
After reviewing reports and hearing complaints from Driving Park and Old Oaks residents about speeding and crashes along East Livingston Avenue, Columbus officials plan to do a traffic study to determine how to make the busy corridor safer. 
According to city police records, there have been 65 crashes this year through Dec. 13 at just five intersections along East Livingston Avenue: South Ohio Avenue, South Champion Avenue, Miller Avenue, Kelton Avenue and Fairwood Avenue.
“The residents’ concerns are what are leading us to perform this particular study,” said Reynaldo Stargell, administrator of the city’s traffic management division.
Read more.
Back in October, Tawny Nash was shopping in Sam’s Club when she spotted two men wearing “FishBurger” T-shirts.
“I was in another aisle and I yelled at them, ‘Where is your FishBurger?’” said Nash, a 78-year-old Far East Sider—and self-proclaimed fish-lover.
“They told me and said, ‘This is our grand opening today.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there.’”
Sure enough, Nash showed up at the Driving Park restaurant at Livingston and Rhodes avenues. She was bowled over by the FishBurger sandwich, which features fried salmon, a special drip sauce and a signature lemon wedge on top.
Read more.
More apartments are planned near Nationwide Children’s Hospital — this time right across the street — and they’re another sign of the growing hospital’s influence on the changing character of the Schumacher Place neighborhood.
The apartments would be built on the site of the former Shanes Dinner Theater at 447 E. Livingston Ave. and the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location at 475 E. Livingston. The development would be across East Livingston Avenue from the hospital’s Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion and its Butterfly Garden Gateway entrance.
Read more.
Erica Thompson 
[email protected]
Mark Ferenchik
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