Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Council adopts motion to help Walker Street residents

Cincinnati City council has adopted unanimously a motion directing the City to draft an ordinance to build a retaining wall to save properties along Walker Street in Mount Auburn.

The motion is in response to a petition submitted earlier this month by the street's property owners, asking the City for its help in correcting landslide problems resulting from an absentee landlord's burst water pipe and a Metropolitan Sewer District project on the adjacent Alma Street.

Drafted by councilmember Roxanne Qualls, the motion asks the City to consider the petitioners' request to have the City fund 2 percent of the estimated $588,000 retaining wall cost between 1809 and 1857 Walker Street, and to issue bonds payable by the property owners over the next 30 years.

The City would fund its portion of the costs using capital dollars, not money from the operating budget.

To pay off the costs of the wall, City bonds would be serviced by payments of Walker Street property owners over a period of 30 years.

Andy McLaughlin, a Walker Street resident who helped put the petition together, says that it's as much of an investment by the neighborhood as it is an investment by the City.

"Since the city will have very limited financial responsibility of the cost, it really is more an investment by the property owners," he says. "We will have to pay for this project for 30 years."

McLaughlin says that, although the residents of Walker Street were already close, putting together the petition has pulled them even closer together.

"It has been a difficult thing to deal with, but yes, it has brought us closer," McLaughlin says. "It's obvious nearly everyone wants to keep Walker Street a great place to live, and wants to stay in Cincinnati and Walker Street. Of the 20 people who were asked to sign the petition, only three did not sign it, and all three of them are landlords who do not live on Walker Street."

In the motion, Qualls asks in a statement accompanying the motion that petitioning property owners be involved in designing the wall.

"In order to successfully compete in the world economy, Cincinnati needs safe, attractive, and convenient neighborhoods where people desire to live," she says. "Walker Street in Mt. Auburn is such a neighborhood. It makes little sense to let this neighborhood fail when there is a cost effective solution readily available."

A report – and possibly an ordinance – will be available for consideration by council's Vibrant Neighborhoods Committee on September 7.

Previous reading on BC:
Walker Street residents submit petition for retaining wall (8/3/09)
Walker Street property owners still awaiting action on retaining wall (6/16/09)
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)