Monday, April 9, 2012

Cincinnati economic development will 'actively support' Lick Run businesses

The City of Cincinnati Economic Development Division (EDD) is the prime advocate of South Fairmount business owners, according to a recent memo from Interim Economic Development Director William Fischer.

EDD staff has been meeting with businesses directly to discuss concerns and opportunities brought about by the $122 million Lick Run Alternative, a proposed Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) project that would "daylight" Lick Run within a six-block area bounded by White Street, the Western Hills Viaduct, and Queen City and Westwood avenues.

Part of a larger, $3.2 billion project to rebuild and improve the region's sewer system, the Alternative would eliminate about half of the 1.7 billion-gallon mix of raw sewage and stormwater directly discharged into the Mill Creek annually.

To provide input and direction on possible short- and long-term impacts of the Alternative, EDD also has partnered with MSD through their Communities of the Future Advisory initiative and has built close ties with both the community council and business association, Fischer said.

That business association, the South Fairmount Business Association, formed in February 2011 with 22 members who are facing possible displacement.

Addressing concerns has been problematic, though, since MSD is still refining the Alternative based upon community input received through three public design workshops. Or it could choose to pursue a more costly option – an underground tunnel – that is estimated to cost twice as much for construction and three times as much in annual operation and maintenance.

"[EDD] is not in a position to provide information on specific properties that will be affected by the project," Fischer said. "This puts business and property owners in the possible project area in the unenviable position of trying to plan for the future of their business while not knowing whether MSD will be pursuing acquisition of their property in the coming months or years."

MSD will submit its preferred remedy for resolving the combined sewer overflow problem to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators in December.

"EDD is confident that MSD is doing all they can to move forward with a decision that will provide some direction for local business owners and the community that are possibly affected if the project is approved," Fischer said. "In the meantime, EDD will continue to actively support local businesses to help them grow in Cincinnati."

If approved, construction of the Lick Run Alternative's major elements could be completed by 2018.

Previous reading on BC:
Workshop attendees overwhelmingly support Lick Run daylighting (4/3/12)