ZANESVILLE, Ohio- There are two sides to every story and that couldn’t be more true as a rift between local business owners and city officials continues.
What once used to be a vibrant and thriving neighborhood is now overrun with abandoned buildings and trash. Local business owners are fed up and want the city to clean it up.
Jennifer Estep is the owner of Nicol’s Restaurant. For the last four years, Estep has been trying to sell her business with no success; and she has strong ideas about the reason why.
“What I have been told and what we feel is the main issue down here is the lack of code enforcement,” said Estep. “If you take a look at the surrounding area and the surrounding residents and businesses people come down here..they just do not want to make that kind of investment into this community.”
Estep and Dan Quinn, another business owner in the neighborhood say the city is neglecting the area. They say they’ve been in constant communication with various city offices, but still end up getting nowhere.
“To me the city has turned their back on us. I mean, we have taken the fight to the city for years now and they completely turned their backs,” said owner of Sunshine Shoppe and Greenhouses, Dan Quinn. “There’s a newspaper article last week that they did and the city says ‘we tried enforce the code’. You try? That’s your job to enforce the code.”
And while they wait for the city to do something…
“The conditions continue to get worst. We hear that they’re doing things – and we know that they have tried to do a few things down here – but it is not enough,” Estep said. “The city needs to get down here in this area, take a look around, and start enforcing the ordinances that are already on the books.”
But the city tells another story. Public Safety Director Fred Buck says this is nothing new for his office.
“They said we don’t work on code enforcement. I’m sure I’ve heard that complaint several times.”
And Chief Tony Coury of the Zanesville Police Departments says the claims are unfounded.
“Any complaint that’s lodged with our department, our officers are sent down, and they take a look at it. If it’s something they can correct on the spot they do so. If it’s something that takes a little while then we work on it.”
Buck says while the area does have drug and prostitution problems, it’s not just as simple as enforcing codes. A lot of the issues law enforcement gets called to takes place on private property — which they can’t do anything about. Buck says the homeless population in the area is high which can cause problems, but they can’t just make it go away.
“There has to be some compassion somewhere for these people. They have to have somewhere to go.”