Now lately I would have considered city council to be on somewhat of a roll, and by that I mean vote the way I approve. But in all seriousness, they have done quite a bit of good work lately. Here is a list of a few of their accomplishments:
- Approved a potential property tax rollback (albeit minor).
- Voted to create a ‘vending district’ along Short Vine.
- Looked at ways to cut costs around city hall that could potentially save the city another $18 million.
- Rezoned a piece of land in Sedamsville that could end up paying off in the long run for city coffers.
- Reinstated the city’s Clean, Safe Fund.
However there was a misstep along the way when they voted 5-4 to not approve a 25 cent bus fare hike for Metro. This is a crucial piece to the Metro puzzle; most of their buses will be needing replacement very soon, and this type of delay can critically set them back for years to come. While I agree with council that there are probably better ways for Metro to cope with financial hardships (i.e. make all the other communities pay into the system who use it), but that will take some time and this money is needed right now!
This is similar to the types of problems that Amtrak has faced over the years. They are constantly unsure of what their financial status will be on a year to year basis and can therefore not financially plan for anything farther out than their current fiscal year. I yearn for the day when Cincinnati has a real regional transportation authority that overlooks these systems, and sets up appropriate funding mechanisms for them.
Why is it that there is Metro, TANK, Bearcat Transportation Shuttle, and all of these other fragmented transportation services. Clean it up, remove the unnecessary overhead and move towards a real regional authority that we all really want and need.
I must reiterate how much I love the new Fountain Square! It is more open, engaging, and personable. The trees offer an oasis of shade for those lounging on the square, and the water wall/spray features offer something for families. Overall the area is looking great!
Via Vite is progressing quite nicely and should be a great feature on the square. The re-cladding, on the south side, of the 5/3 building is nearing completion as well. I might add that it’s also looking quite nice. Now the north side of the building is another question.
They have put in these colored beams as the source of re-cladding. I’m not a big fan to say the least, but on the bright side it seems to compliment the Cadillac suspended above the entrance to the new Cadillac Ranch Bar & Grill. I don’t know what they were thinking when whoever drew up these designs, but I guess it’s just nice to see more investment in the inner-city. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m getting picky…
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If you have a pulse you can notice the major changes occurring in/around Downtown Cincinnati. There are new restaurants, clubs, retailers, residents and overall just more activity at all times of the day. Now I’m not sure if city government should receive all of the credit for this, but it certainly deserves some. While all of this has been well and good; Downtown Cincinnati is still not where it could be…or where it used to be. Who is going to step up and take downtown and its surrounding areas to the next level?
I challenge city government to take this one by the horns and put downtown over the top. Downtown needs more everyday retailers, affordable shops, more affordable housing, and improved cleanliness/image. These are the items, the City of Cincinnati, should be focusing on in order to make downtown a truly great place to live, work, and play. Here are my suggestions:
1. Sell downtown to potential retailers that have been hesitant, in the past, to invest in downtown while making sure these retailers represent the people that you are trying to serve (urban dwellers…NOT SUBURBANITES).
2. Encourage middle-class housing development, by incentivising those developments that serve that segment of society. Push for better transit options (like the streetcar proposal) to help reduce overhead costs for new housing developments.
3. Finally, don’t be afraid to be positive…tell everyone/anyone about the great things happening downtown, and that they too can be a part of the change! Let everyone know that it’s not just a select group of people making a lot of noise, but rather a collective mass taking hold.
I hope our leadership can help the inner-city thrive once again; leaders like Jim Tarbell are a rare breed, and we must demand accountability from our other city leaders to make the city GREAT once again…we’re certainly on our way.