Our Town: South Side
City neighborhood is a magnet for people on the go
This is the sixth in a series about Marietta’s neighborhoods.
Up next: Rathbone.
The stretch along the Ohio River from the levee to Lafayette Square is home to about 1,000 of the city’s residents, with a wide array of housing choices, businesses and recreation.
Darrell Rummer, 71, grew up in the area and has lived most of his life there.
“My people came from Ohio Street, the McIntoshes. My cousin George still lives there,” he said, pausing for a moment on one of his regular walks on the River Trail. “When I was 5 years old, my grandmother lived where the flower shop (Aletha’s) is now, in an apartment. She babysat me while both my parents were working. My uncle worked at Fenton Glass, and when he got home he’d take me for walks on the rail bridge.”
“I’ve seen a few changes. This trail used to be a dirt road up to the Lafayette (hotel).”
The River Trail, built in 2005, is one of the crowning features of the area for both visitors and residents.
Roger Kalter represents the area on the Marietta City Council and recognizes the value of the trail and the river.
“It’s one of the focal points of the community, a magnet for people. There’s a phenomenal amount of traffic, with people walking their dogs, runners, bicyclists. The tower by the Williamstown Bridge offers an opportunity for a high-level view,” he said.
The south side of Marietta is a mixed neighborhood, with century-old houses next to condominium developments with units valued upward of $250,000.
Kalter said the River Trail is used not only as a recreational pathway but also as a pedestrian route to work for many people who have minimum wage jobs at Lafayette Square businesses, a couple miles down, and in the big-box retail stores farther down.
“A lot of low-income people, some of the city’s 20 percent of the population that don’t have cars, are using that trail,” he said.
Kalter said he looks forward to Phase 5 of the trail development, which will put a pedestrian bridge over
Duck Creek and create greater convenience for them. When the Food4Less supermarket closed, it meant a longer hike for groceries for people without cars, he added.
“Besides the social justice of allowing them to get to the grocery, the motel patrons over there will have easier access to the trail and be able to walk or bike downtown, and that could really help our merchants,” he said.
Frank Christy, president of Christy and Associates, was involved in the development in the 1980s of the flood plain where Lafayette Square and the surrounding businesses now stand. The project took half a million cubic yards of fill to raise the ground above the flood level.
“When you’re standing in Peeble’s, you’re actually 14 feet above where the ground used to be,” he said.
Christy still has his office in the neighborhood, in the Wharf Building on South Seventh Street.
“I do like that area, and it was under-served, it was blighted housing where those condos are now,” he said.
The development of the river strip created a sort of showpiece area for the city, he said.
“Now that we’ve done that, things have changed. It took a long time, almost 40 years,” he said.
It is, however, still vulnerable to flooding.
“Parkersburg doesn’t have that problem because they built a floodwall in the 1930s,” he said. “Marietta never did that. Instead, we have a beautiful view of the river, but it gets wet sometimes. Really wet.”
Kalter said parts of the area’s rough-and-tumble past remain. A burned-out house on Charles Street s listing toward the roadway. “There’s a lot of drug traffic in that area, so we’ve got a few problems,” he said.
But plans are in the works to continue adding amenities, he said. Trees are being planted in park areas, and Kalter said he’d like to see more benches on the walking trail. The condominiums continue to attract professional-class residents.
“We build on the assets we have,” he said. “We’ll get some accoutrements to make it more pleasant.”
Rodney Lightfrizz, 37, was rebuilding the brakes on his Jeep Friday afternoon in front his house on South Sixth Street.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and I like it. Just don’t like the floods,” he said. “My kids use that bike path all the time.”
Janet Chase, 65, has lived in the area for 18 years and resides in one of the riverside condominiums.
“I can walk to Don Drumm stadium, I can walk to the college to work out or take in a lecture, I’m a hop, skip and a jump from the bike path, I can walk downtown … location, that’s the biggest advantage,” she said.
Health care, representing an investment of $25 million by the Memorial Health System, is a short distance down on Fourth Street, and all the businesses on Pike Street and Greene Street are easily accessible, she said.
Chase was there during the infamous floods of 2004 and 2005, but life went on, she said.
“Everyone pitched in to help one another, we cleaned up and went on about our business,” she said. “You can’t complain when you look at what happened to Florida and Louisiana and Texas. We didn’t have any casualties, and you have to value human life over possessions.”
And above all else, she said, there’s the river.
“This beautiful view, you can see the barges, the boats, the kayaks. At the sternwheel festival, no worry about parking. You just walk,” she said.
≤ Population: 1,069.
≤ Median household income: $26,595.
≤ Housing units: 578.
≤ Owner occupied: 39.6 percent.
≤ Renter occupied: 42.2 percent.
≤ Vacant housing: 18.2 percent.
≤ Median home value: $94,780.
≤ Businesses: South Fifth Automotive, Steve’s Vans & Accessories, Huddleston Enterprises, Stacey’s Dance Studio, Burger King, SV customs, Cash Pal, Verizon, Bar-B-Cutie, Wendy’s, Auto Mart, Apex True Value Hardware, Cone & Shake, Rea & Associates, First Quality Collision, Wolfe Brothers Auto, Pastime Pizza, Advance Auto Parts, Edward Jones Financial, The Levee House, Kreamy Kreations Ice Cream, Walgreens, Memorial Health System, Mathieson Welding, Beltone Hearing Aid.
Source: Census Bureau, Marietta Times research.