March President’s Message

Help Us Help You

This past weekend I had a call from a concerned resident. She wanted me to have a note placed in the Forester about the laws for cars on our Forest Park streets and how long they are, by code, permitted to remain in the same place. The resident did a great job of defining the problem. The resident reported the problem to 311, as we asked. They wanted to be more informed about the law. The resident was observant and followed Officer Clinger’s rule that we learned in Block Watch meetings: “Report Report, Report!”

But there was one problem that reminded me of my first time teaching a chemistry lab at Penn State. I thought i’d done a great job of introducing myself and the class, so when I asked “Any Questions?”, I was sure there wouldn’t be any. But the coed at the front lab desk raised her hand and said: “What’s your name?” Oops. I was so embarrassed.

That’s what happened with the call I received. There was no name. There was no address. There was no 311 report number. There was no way for me to find out what happened and to follow up with the city. Now I don’t want to embarrass our concerned resident. But like my own goof of 35 years ago, I want it to be a learning experience for all of us. That’s one of my goals for this year. I want to teach our community to help us to help you. That’s one of the things you will be reading about in the Forester this year.

In this case, we had an observant, concerned resident who was willing to report a problem both to us and to the city. That is awesome. But because we did not have the right contact information, there is not much we can do to help that resident find a solution to the problem.

Here are some things you can do. If it is an emergency situation involving crime, dial 911 immediately. If it isn’t and you think it is a criminal matter, dial the police non-emergency number, 645-4545. Then contact our Block Watch leader and Supplemental Security officer. If it involves a city matter, like unplowed streets, pot holes, code violations, damage to city trees in the right of way, etc., either dial the City of Columbus Call Center, 311, or go to On that site you will find out how to report problems to the city. You will also find the refuse, recycling, and yard waste schedules as well as great deal of information for city residents. If you want to learn more about the difference between code violations and crime, come to our Association and Block Watch meetings. You will usually have an opportunity to ask questions of the board or block watch leaders and our city and police liaisons.

Remember the rules of good reporting: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why. You may not have all of those. Provide as many as you can. Get a 311 report number from the city. When you make a 311 report, give your contact information–either an e-mail address or telephone number. An automatic report number will be generated. Make a note of it. That number helps our City Liaison to help us help you.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Ken Gilbert
President, FPCA