Friday, October 3, 2008

Keys Crescent: City must do more to keep 'undesirables' off Collins Avenue steps

A Keys Crescent property owner says that the City should be doing more to barricade the Collins Avenue steps with fencing and foliage.

In an e-mail to Cincinnati City Councilmember Leslie Ghiz, the property owner says that even though the closed steps have reduced crime greatly, there are still reportable incidents.

He says that's because the steps are not really closed, even though the City has installed four foot-by-four foot chain link fencing at the bottom and the top of the path.

"Anyone can defeat the barrier at either end with very little effort just by walking around it," he says. "And people do so, walking at will up and down the steps."

At the top of the steps, someone separated the fence from its pole to get through.

"The City has fixed that two weeks ago in response to our complaint, but this gives you an indication that we are not yet done with scoundrels on the path," he says.

In 2006, several Keys Crescent residents petitioned Cincinnati City Council to close the steps, claiming that they were rarely used, in a state of disrepair, and brought crime onto their street.

Residents and others who use the steps to move between Taft Road and O'Bryonville fought the proposal, even setting up a website and mailing list to help spread the word.

In March 2007, Ghiz sponsored an ordinance that council subsequently passed that closed the steps for five years, during which crime statistics will be gathered to see if the closure cuts down on criminal activity.

The resident worries about people continuing to use the steps, even though he has no way of knowing how many are indeed criminals.

"Some of these people are undesirables," he says. "Now that my daughter, her husband, and their baby are about to move into our house, we are very concerned."

On Wednesday, personnel from the City's Department of Transportation and Engineering met with the property owner to discuss possible options, and it was decided that an additional 6 to 8 foor high fence would be installed near the south end of the steps.

However, the City will be unable to stop people from trespassing through unfenced or lightly fenced property.

Faced with walking up a 300-yard-long set of steps - or opting for 0.8 miles up Hackberry Street or 1.5 miles up Torrence Parkway - many are going to become 'lawbreakers' by choice.

Note: Steps pictured are not the Collins Avenue steps

Previous reading on BC:
Google mashup identifies Cincinnati's public steps (2/26/08)