New Year’s Eve in Downtown Cincinnati

There are lots of options for you on New Years Eve Downtown. The weather also looks like it will be playing nice this year as it will be partly cloudy and in the 20’s when the ball drops.

If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to hit up the private parties or cover charges for the bars/clubs, then Fountain Square should be your destination. There will be free ice skating, music, and fireworks. There will also be hot drinks, food, and an “ice bar” set up in the corner of the ice rink that will be serving adult beverages all night long.

If you have the resources and entourage then one of the private parties might be for you. Be sure to check out Bootsy’s as it looks to celebrate its first NYE Downtown. You can reserve a table at Bootsy’s and enjoy the typical tapas and sushi that Bootsy’s is known for. There will also be a DJ and a champagne toast at midnight.

If you’re looking for a more neighborhood bar type feel that will have some great food and plenty to drink, then Arnold’s might be a good spot for you. For $39.95 you’ll get a five course gourmet meal, party favors, and the requisite midnight champagne toast. For music Arnold’s will have Lagnaippe entertaining the crowd with their cajun sound.

So no matter what your scene or budget is you can find a spot for you in the heart of Cincinnati on New Year’s Eve. Have a great time, and be sure to take advantage of the free cab rides being provided through MADD and AAA on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Photo Credit: Metromix Cincinnati

Letting Cincinnatians Down

I know I promised no new posts for awhile, but the moment has struck me with a series of unfortunate events from organizations and people who are there to represent the interests of Cincinnatians.

The local Green Party, local chapter of the NAACP, and Green Township officials continue to let us down. What do these unlikely bedfellows have in common? They all seem to have a vested interest against the improvement of Cincinnati’s transit system beyond that of roadways.

The Green Party most notably led by Justin Jeffre locally has an unusual opposition to the ongoing efforts to bring a modern streetcar system to Cincinnati. Their unusual tactics have included referring to this modern streetcar proposal as a “choo choo train” and likening a streetcar’s functionality and benefits to that of an electric bus. For their efforts, as perplexing as they may be, are still just words and rank them the lowest of the three offenders mentioned here.

Next up is the local chapter of the NAACP. The NAACP has a stated mission of, “ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” Seems reasonable enough to me, and you would think an initiative that would improve transit options and service in the center city while also creating many permanent and temporary jobs would be something that the local chapter of the NAACP would be on board with right? Wrong.

The NAACP has made the denying of improved transit for Cincinnatians one of their top 3 priorities for 2009. They have passed the measure internally and have agreed to collect signatures to have the issue put on the November ballot. What is most troubling about this is that they can not put the legislative measure itself on the ballot (as it is not increasing taxes or changing law). Instead they are putting in on the ballot as a Charter amendment.

So if the local chapter of the NAACP were to achieve success they would alter the City’s Charter to prohibit streetcars altogether. That means that even if some big company wanted to come in and fund a streetcar system with 100% of their own money they would not be able to do so as it would occur within the City’s right-of-way. I’m curious to look at the language even more closely to see if it would also include something to prohibit light rail or high-speed rail efforts that would also benefit Cincinnatians and their city.

Finally you have Green Township officials. Forget the fact that the State Representatives from this westside community have spoken out against virtually every single rail initiative that this region has seen. We’ll just look at buses – something that several townships and suburban areas, like Anderson and West Chester townships, have learned to embrace over the years.

Green Township is a community with close to 60,000 residents. To its west is the rural portions of Western Hamilton County. To its east and south are the first ring suburbs of Cincinnati including Cheviot, Westwood, and Price Hill. There is little to no bus service for this massive township and Township Trustees are working on getting rid of what is currently there.

During the Legacy Place rezoning effort Township Trustees worked to block Metro from serving the proposed retail development. Their rationale was that they didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Legacy Place (no mentioned tenants) that happened to Western Hills Plaza (home to stores like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Sears, and Staples) down the road. Ignoring the obvious racial undertones and prejudice of that statement I’ll assume that they don’t want to see any massive reinvestment in Legacy Place when it too loses its newness.

More recently Green Township officials have been lobbying Metro to remove some or eliminate all of the #33 bus route that runs through the township. With recent Metro budget constraints they figured why continue the fight and decided to cut a portion of the #33 route – one of the only routes in the township – at the township’s request.

Contact these organizations and people and let them know how disappointed you are with their actions. Let them know how out of touch their actions are with their constituencies. And most importantly let them know how important transit options are to you.

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Happy Holidays to all those who are Proudly Cincinnati

UrbanCincy will be taking a few days off for the holidays (and travel plans). In the mean time I’ll leave you with this video clip of the new television commercial that the University of Cincinnati is rolling out and will air during the Orange Bowl to an estimated 11 million viewers.

There is a corresponding radio ad, and the two will be featured prominently in not only Cincinnati, but Cleveland and Columbus as well. UC is looking to maximize their Orange Bowl exposure for their current fundraising drive themed ‘Proudly Cincinnati.’

Taking recycling to the next level in Cincinnati

Our region is starting to make strides towards improving our environmental impact and ultimately reducing our carbon footprint. In some cases though enough is not being done. One in particular is recycling.

The City of Cincinnati recycles about 9% of its trash with goals of increasing that to 15% in four years. To meet this goal the Mayor launched a Green Cincinnati Recycling Plan that introduced four new Downtown recycling drop-off locations (GoogleMap), a new webpage where citizens can sign up for recycling on-line, and a recycling program at tailgating before Bengals home games.

In addition to these great efforts lets have dual recycling/trash receptacles out on the streets. One of the good things about not having a presorted recycling facility is that the public doesn’t have to worry about sorting their recyclable materials when discarding. A secondary receptacle adjacent to the trash can would work quite well and offer the easy access to recycling as you’re walking down the street.

A more expensive option would be to go the Big Belly routewith not only trash, but recycling as well. In this scenario users would do a simple presort between cans/bottles and paper products. These are a more expensive and comprehensive approach, but probably one of the best options to take in the money is there.

Another important step will be to get rid of those tiny 18-gallon recycling bins and replace them with larger 64 or 96 gallon recycling carts comparable to their trash counterparts. I was recently encouraged to hear that this is indeed in the process and might be implemented with a RecycleBank system where recycling amounts are tracked and users are rewarded for their participation.

The larger bins though would be a huge improvement on their own as people would have the psychological incentive to fill up their much larger bin, instead of the dis-incentive to stop filling up their overflowing smaller bin.

The issue of recycling will be touched on again as it relates to the region’s colleges and universities at a later time. But feel free to post any of your ideas for how the region can improve its recycling rates.