Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plenty of stimulus ideas rolling in

Dozens of Cincinnati projects are seeking a piece of the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package, but there are hundreds more ideas in the minds of City residents.

As the City considers how its share will be spent, many of these ideas have been submitted to Cincinnati City Councilmembers for their consideration.

Walnut Hills business district

Jewel Rice of Walnut Hills suggests that stimulus money be channeled to the Walnut Hills business district, an area that she describes as having "gone from struggling to seedy".

In addition to a satellite office for City Hall, she would like to see a satellite permit office, new apartments, a second grocery store, and a community garden.

Infrastructure could be improved through repurposing buildings, unifying facades, lighting storefronts, and utilizing green energy, she says, and new investment could be gained through tax and rent incentives.

Rice believes that the one- to two-year project would create jobs, add new businesses and living options, and reduce blight and crime.

Public safety for East Price Hill

Dan Boller of East Price Hill believes that stimulus money should be used to build a combined state-of-the-art facility for Cincinnati Police Department District 3 and Cincinnati Fire Department Engine 17.

He suggests the Grandview site on Considine Avenue, currently owned by Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA).

"It is clearly obvious that the D-3 Police Headquarters is in need of expansion and it seems clearly obvious that CFD Engine #17 makes a majority of its runs up from Eighth and State into East Price Hill that this site would make street accessibility sense," Boller says. "Havin direct access to Grand Avenue, a thoroughfare to Fairmount and then up to Westwood, along with extremely short distance access to both major Price Hill corridors of Glenway and Warsaw seems to present a fantastic fit for both the Police and Fire Departments."

Both the Plymouth Church site and former Whittier School site have been suggested for a replacement building for the cramped District 3 station, but the City has said that it will purchase neither.

Preservation, not demolition

The City's share of federal economic stimulus funding should be channeled into preservation of the City's historic building stock, says Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) preservation director Margo Warminski.

"CPA strongly supports using this money for rehabilitation and weatherization rather than demolition," she says. "While some buildings need to come down, there has been too much emphasis in recent years on demolition and not enough on renovation and stabilization of the buildings that will attract residents back to the City."

As far as infrastructure improvements, Warminski says that CPA supports construction of the streetcar as an important first step toward more balanced transportation options and less automobile dependence.

"Streetcars built many of the City's historic neighborhoods, and streetcars can help to revitalize them."

Stimuli for our feet

Bonnie Parsons has a very simple idea -- invest in our public sidewalks.

"It's not as glamorous as a streetcar line or as popular as a bike trail along the Ohio River," she says. "Yet hundreds of thousands of people would benefit from this every day."

Although Parsons realizes that it's the job of individual property owners to maintain their sidewalks, she feels that $40 million in federal economic stimulus money could put many of our small contractors back to work.

"In general, the City takes much better care of the streets than property owners do of the sidewalks and driveway entrances alongside them," she says. "Property owners just don't have the resources to do this job as well as the City can."

She says that one of her neighbors, who does concrete work for a living, estimated the cost of replacing the sidewalk and driveway apron in front of her property at $1,000 to $2,000.

"At a time when many homeowners are having trouble making ends meet, are losing jobs, and have limited ability to borrow, this would be a great way to take the additional burden off their backs," she says. "Many of my neighbors think the City is responsible for the sidewalks anyway and can't understand why the City is letting them get into such poor shape when they take much better care of the street. When I told them it was their responsibility to repair, they became very worried that the City would tell them to fix their walks when they are having trouble making it from day to day."

Previous reading on BC:
Vote on Cincinnati stimulus projects! (2/5/09)