Thursday, March 10, 2011

East End mobilizing on Collins Avenue Steps issue

The East End Area Council (EEAC) has begun the process of meeting with members of Cincinnati City Council with the goal of having the Collins Avenue Steps reopened.

The steps, which connect William Howard Taft Road with Keys Crescent, were closed in 2007 as part of a five-year pilot study after residents of Keys Crescent complained that the steps were rarely used, were in a state of disrepair, and brought crime into the community.

The Cincinnati Police Department is expected to present crime statistics for the neighborhood late this year, which will inform Council's decision on the future of the steps.

According to EEAC City Liaison Laurie Keleher, who began a "Save the Steps" campaign in 2006, it was a letter from Police Chief Tom Streicher that was instrumental in the steps' closure. With Streicher's retirement, the issue needs to be moved to the forefront, she says.

And the EEAC wants to insure that the community has access to and input on the crime statistics, not just City Council.

"We don't feel that the process last time was very transparent," Keleher says. "We want to be sure that this time it is. We want to be aware of what the crime stats are."

Stairway to opportunity

The Collins Avenue Steps are an important route for people from the riverside communities to reach Madison Road, Woodburn, and O'Bryonville.

"Geographically, the East End is a barricaded neighborhood," Keleher says. "We are in a steep valley following the river on our south, with Columbia Parkway effectively closing off our north side. There are very few passage ways to get past the Parkway, and one of them is Collins Avenue."

She also says that he community is also advocating for a bicycle facility that could be located near where the steps meet the Ohio River Trail bike-hike path.

"We also see the Steps as an important part of making us a walkable community," Keleher says. "We have an enormous potential as a destination neighborhood for runners, bicyclists and walkers with our available public waterfront parks."

By taking advantage of these opportunities, the East End could become more attractive for investment.

"We have a great deal of undeveloped property in the East End, and as such are a very low-density neighborhood," Keleher says. "The Collins Ave Steps will connect us to our neighbors and help attract infill residential and business district growth as more people come to our neighborhood, instead of just passing through it."

Previous reading on BC:
DOTE recommends keeping Westwood walkway open (2/1/11)
Keys Crescent: City must do more to keep 'undesirables' off Collins Avenue steps (10/3/08)
Google mashup identifies Cincinnati's public steps (2/26/08)