Monday, May 20, 2013

South Cumminsville park could be lost to business expansion

South Cumminsville may lose a significant amount of its green space to business expansion.

Interstate-Trucking, Inc. is seeking to buy 8.1 acres of property, which includes Hille Ball Field, for the expansion of the parking lot at Truckway Leasing and Rental, located at 1745 Dreman Avenue.

The expansion would address an overflow of trailers on its current lot and would allow the company to retain 85 jobs. It would also allow the company to add 25 new positions, mostly trailer mechanics.

The sale is contingent on City Council approval of a zoning change from PR Parks and Recreation District to ML Manufacturing Limited District to allow for the expansion. If the rezoning and sale is not approved, the company has indicated that it may have to move to Kentucky this summer.

Neighborhood concerns

A March 5 public meeting provided more questions than answers.

Two days later, South Cumminsville Community Council (SCCC) President Marilyn Evans recapped her concerns in a letter to Felix Bere, senior city planner with the Department of Planning and Buildings.

"While the South Cumminsville community is happy that Truckway is a viable business in our neighborhood, we have some concerns about the proposed zoning change and the decrease of green space in our community," she wrote. "We are concerned about the displacement of our neighbors due to this proposal and the potential harm that more trucks could do to the homes on Roll Ave. We are also concerned about bringing more trucks over our residential streets."

The City Planning Commission recommended the zoning change and sale on March 15, citing its proximity to other manufacturing districts, its promotion of economic development, and its planned environmental mitigation measures.

City places conditions on sale

On April 24, City Council adopted a motion placing several conditions on the rezoning and sale:
  • The establishment of permanent floodplain/conservation easements along the eastern and southern portions of the property, at a preferred width of 200 feet but at a minimum width of 100 feet;
  • The establishment of a green buffer between the proposed parking lot and adjacent residences;
  • Restrict the proceeds from the property's sale to investments in Wayne Playground, which is located at Beekman and Elmore streets, to include a public restroom, a sprayground, a walking track, and the expansion of the football field to make it regulation size;
  • Collaborate with the SCCC, Interstate-Trucking, and Truckway Leasing and Rental to achieve needed restrictions on truck traffic on residential streets, to evaluate the impacts that I-74 and I-75 changes will have on the neighborhood, and to improve local traffic circulation;
  • Require semi-pervious surfaces to construct the new parking lot; and
  • Require Interstate-Trucking/Truckway Leasing and Rental to provide at least 25 percent of the anticipated 25 new jobs to South Cumminsville residents.

Opportunity to unite

Attempts are still being made to save the park.

On May 4, the Cumminsville Reunification Project (CRP) held and environmental justice walk from Hoffner Park in Northside to Hille Field.

The group formed to reunite South Cumminsville with neighboring Northside, both originally part of the Village of Cumminsville.

"South Cumminsville has been neglected for a long time," CRP wrote on its Facebook page. "Fifty years ago, I-74 cut the community in half...South Cumminsville has no banks and no grocery stores. It has one of the highest rates of subprime loans and high school drop outs in Hamilton County. It has not seen any significant City investment in years. It has simply been abused and neglected for the benefit of a few marginal interests. All of this has come at the expense of the residents of South Cumminsville."

Part of that unification includes the ‎Mill Creek Greenway Trail. CRP envisions Hille Ball Field as the site of a Cumminsville Confluence Park, a sustainable passive recreation area served by the trail.

"This trail will allow pedestrian and bicycle traffic to move to and from Northside's business district, as well as its recreation areas...which poses a great potential for the City of Cincinnati as well as the neighborhoods of Cumminsville," CRP wrote.

Previous reading on BC:
Planning Commission Friday: dunnhumbyUSA, Fire Station No. 35, land sales and rezoning (5/2/13)
Building official gets go-ahead for six MuralWorks sites (10/12/09)
Five neighborhoods approved for foreclosure initiative (6/10/09)
Cincinnati development director recommends five neighborhoods for foreclosure initiative (5/20/09)
NHI funded neighborhoods in question (4/13/09)