The Southfield Civic Association was organized April 24,1959 by the homeowners of the Southfield Subdivision, convened by Pearly Stephens Jr., Frank W. Humphrey and Mrs. Stuart Hawkins. Concerned homeowners identified a number of issues ranging from controlling stray dogs to street lighting to public transportation. Six(6) major issues that would improve the standard of living in the community were given priority . Street lighting, sidewalks for Fairwood Avenue and Watkins Road, traffic controls i.e. stop signs and speed controls, public transportation, recreation facilities and property beautification.
The name was changed to the Marion-Franklin Area Civic Association in 1965 to more accurately describe the area.
The city installed the first street lights in the neighborhood between 1959 and 1961, with more lighting installed in 1975. Recently, the city has begun to install lighting around the area’s perimeters streets.
The sidewalks, which would allow pedestrians to safely attend schools and community recreational facilities, for Watkins Road were installed 2006. Sidewalks for Fairwood Avenue, Koebel and Lockbourne Roads are scheduled for 2008.
Traffic controls have been installed in the community at various times since the sixties. The most notable traffic control issue was at the intersection of Watkins Road and Fairwood Avenue. There were a lot of safety concerns regarding increased traffic on the main community thoroughfare making it dangerous to cross especially the area children who must cross Watkins Road to get to neighborhood schools and recreational facilities. The Marion-Franklin Civic Association voiced its concern and the installed a traffic light in the seventies. In 2005, the Marion-Franklin Civic Association was concerned about the increased volume of semi-truck traffic on Watkins Road. The Civic voiced its concern to the City of Columbus, it resulted in the Watkins Road Conference. The Civic Association, area industrial businesses and the City developed a plan to address the issue. The Key points of the plan were. 1. Changed the New World Drive and Watkins Road intersection from a one to two way stop(giving the traffic on New World Drive the right of way .) 2. Widen New World Drive to accommodate the semi-truck traffic. 3. Install traffic light at New World and Alum Creek Drives to allow trucks to turn onto or off of Alum Creek Drive. 4. Putting up signage prohibiting truck traffic from 7:00 am until 4:00pm on Watkins Road.
In September 1961, The Columbus Transit Authority (CTA) established bus service to the area. In 1975, neighborhood routes and time of bus service were expanded Another service added to the area was the fifteen minute bus service during weekday rush or peak hours.
Initially the recreational facilities were the area schools playgrounds. The City of Columbus operated an after school recreation program in the Watkins Road Elementary School from 1965 until the Marion-Franklin Recreation Center on Lockbourne Road was built in 1973. The center provided area youth with expanded programming. In 2000, the city of Columbus expanded the Marion-Franklin Recreation Center by adding a senior/adult wing and renamed it to the Marion-Franklin Intergenerational Center. It now provides recreation facilities from youth to senior citizen.
Initial Association efforts on property beautification focused on seven issues: 1.Encourage homeowners to remove their trash cans form the curb on trash collection day ;2. Eliminating and cleaning up the dump site located at Watkins and Lockbourne Roads; 3. Have the city zone all adjacent land around Southfield as residential; 4. Assisting homeowners with drainage problems; 5. Getting the city to clean community streets; 6. Extend city water lines to area schools; and 7. Address the issues of stray dogs. Currently the vast majority of homeowners do remove their trash cans from curb on trash collection day. The vacant lot at Watkins and Lockbourne Roads are now the site of a business and church. Unfortunately most the area’s vacant adjacent property is zoned manufacturing or owned by the CSX and Norfolk railroad. Properties still suffer from drainage problems, however, those problems are scheduled to be addressed in the City’s 2008 capitol improvement plan The city street cleaning crews now routinely clean community streets. The majority of the residents and structures receive city water. Most neighbors have taken responsibility for their dogs minimizing the stray dog problem.
In 2003, the Marion -Franklin Area Civic Association, Cambria Addition, Greenhill Acres and the City came together to develop the Tri-South Neighborhood Plan. This seventeen year plan will allow the communities to identify and prioritize concerns.
The plan contains what the Tri-South Plan members would like the City to consider when planning or developing the area. City Council accepted the Tri-South Plan September 22, 2003.
In conclusion the Marion-Franklin Area Civic Association for almost fifty years has been an effective and responsive voice for the community and will continue to.