Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walker Street property owners still awaiting action on retaining wall

It appears that the City may be willing to give Walker Street property owners 30 years to pay off the cost of a new retaining wall, but will only provide 2 percent of the estimated $588,000 cost.

In May, the group sent a draft petition to the office of Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls asking the City to build a retaining wall along approximately 566 frontage feet between 1809 and 1857 Walker Street, which would help correct ongoing landslide problems caused by a burst water main and a nearby Metropolitan Sewer District project.

Petition language asking the City to cover one-third of the costs and allow 50 years for residents to pay the City back for the bonds was immediately rejected.

According to assistant city solicitor Stephen Fagel, the costs of the project are determined by the Department of Transportation and Engineering when they bid the job, and the repayment schedule is at the discretion of council.

The payback period cannot be longer than the length of the bonds, and the petitioners are required to pay the bonds' interest.

Estimates are that over 30 years, a $588,000 note, with interest included, would require $1.098 million in debt service at 4.5 percent and $1.296 million at 6 percent.

Each property owner would be assessed based upon their total street frontage.

In a series of recent e-mails obtained by Building Cincinnati, one resident asked if stimulus money was available, and another asked if the City would be looking at competitive bids – or would the costs be higher due to prevailing wage or small- and minority-owned business requirements.

Still others feared that, by pushing too hard, they may cause the City to back away from the project entirely – forcing many who have City orders against them to walk away from their properties.

"Yes the city will be charged a higher rate but they will also be receiving the economy of scale by doing the entire project," one property owner said. "Also the city will be financing the entire thing at a good interest rate."

Residents and property owners continue to work with Qualls' office, and will continue to meet before submitting a formal petition to council.

The approval of owners of 60 percent of the street frontage within the identified area will be required for the petition to be considered.

Previous reading on BC:
Walker Street residents craft petition (5/5/09)
Walker Street residents assembling petition for retaining wall assessment (4/23/09)
Walker Street retaining wall closer to Council vote (4/8/09)
Resident: 'Please help us save Walker Street' (2/24/09)