LIMA — Several Ohio State University and OSU-Lima students participated in the first day of a two-year research project aimed at finding uses for vacant land throughout Lima. Mattijs van Maasakkers and and Jacob Boswell, both assistant professors at Ohio State University, kicked off a mapping project as part of the Ohio Land Exchange Project, which hopes to connect organizations wishing to improve the community with vacant lots of land throughout the Lima area. Nine undergraduate students worked with faculty members and graduate students Saturday as they identified several tax-delinquent vacant lots and mapped them. “The students used an iPad to identify and gather information on several vacant lots, van Maasakkers said. “The students learned to manage and create large data sets that can be used to improve the community.” Van Maasakkers said students identified different markers at each property, such as was it in active use, if structures were on the property, of there was dumping on the property, trees and other items that may be on the property. “This allows us to identify possible uses for the property and how feasible it would be,” van Maasakkers said. “Whether it could be used for a park, a community garden or maybe a fitness park.” Van Maasakkers said the study is beneficial for the students because more and more cities are looking for people who are familiar with the type of technology used in the study when wanting to make community improvements. He said it also gave the students a chance to participate in an actual research project. The study was made possible through a grant from the Engagement Impact Grant from OSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The voluteering students will participate in phase two of the project sometime in the spring, when potential properties for improvements are identified and linked with possible organizations. Van Maasakkers said the study group has already had conversations with city of Lima officials. Dave Braun, an OSU-Lima student from Jackson Center, said it was a great opportunity to get involved with the community and a chance to get to know the Lima area better. “I was surprised how many vacant lots there are,” Braun said. “Under the right direction, a lot of benefit could be brought to the area.” Hali Finfrock from Convoy said she believed volunteering for the project could open her eyes to different majors in college. “A lot of these parcels are vacant and could be put to good use,” Finfrock said.
Lance Mihm | The Lima News OSU-Lima students Kenna Rice, Dave Braun, Beverly Steele and Hali Finfrock identify a vacant lot and graph it on a GIS mapping system. The research is part of a project aimed at improving the use of vacant lots in Lima.