Cincinnati Aims to Break Ground on Next Phase of Ohio River Trail in June 2017

City officials are advancing the designs for the next phase of the Ohio River Trail. The 2.2-mile segment will run from Salem Road to Sutton Road in Cincinnati’s California neighborhood on its eastern riverfront.

Project and community leaders are excited about the work because it will fill in a gap in the Ohio River Trail that will eventually stretch 23 miles from Coney Island on the east to Sayler Park on the west. The project will also represent an approximate 50% increase in the number of completed miles of the Ohio River Trail.

While designs are still being finalized, city officials presented a conceptual design and the preferred alignment with the public at an open house held on March 25.

The designs call for a shared use, asphalt path for bicyclists and pedestrians that is 12 feet wide. There would be a six-foot setback from the road, and the path would essentially function as an extra wide sidewalk in order to avoid taking any right-of-way away from automobiles.

The preferred alignment for the shared trail would run along the eastern side of Kellogg Avenue and go through the California Woods Nature Preserve. The pathway would pass underneath I-275 at the foot of the Combs-Hehl Bridge.

Project officials say that they will take feedback given during the recent open house into consideration when developing final designs, and formulate construction cost estimates. The next public meeting will take place in October.

If all goes according to plan, detailed design work will be complete by October 2016 and construction will begin in June 2017.

Smale Riverfront Park Awarded $12.5M in Additional Public Funding

Dave Prather and the Cincinnati Park Board have released a new video update on Smale Riverfront Park. This latest update covers a lot of information due to the infusion of millions of new public dollars into the project.

In early March the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that they had awarded $4.5 million to Smale Riverfront Park to pay for erosion and flooding control along that portion of the Ohio River.

What it also means is that the Cincinnati Park Board can use other private funding it has received for other components that had been planned for the Heekin/PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground but put on hold until additional funding was secured. Those items include a shade canopy, sandbox, enhanced lighting and landscaping, shade trees, granite seat walls, and shade pergola.

Since this additional work can now proceed, project officials have adjusted the overall project schedule so that it can proceed immediately and be completed at the same time as ongoing work, which is slated to open in spring 2015 ahead of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game to be held at Great American Ball Park.

The City of Cincinnati also approved $8 million in additional funding for the park at the end of last month. That money, officials say, will fund the rest of the next phase of work. City leaders also note that an additional $5 million in city funds will be needed for the project in 2017 to fully complete the park.

The new funding from USACE is the first federal investment in the project in years following a ban on earmark spending that had jeopardized the schedule for completion for the 45-acre central riverfront park.

Episode #32: Spring Update

Uber appOn the 32nd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, John, and Travis cover a few local issues recently in the news.

We cover the launch of Lyft and Uber in Cincinnati and what it could mean for local cab companies. We also talk about the proposed renovation of Burnet Woods and several other Uptown developments. Finally, we talk about the opposition to tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge and whether the bridge can be built without that funding source.

February URBANexchange is Tonight

URBANexchange

Sick of winter? So are we, so come join us in keeping warm at the Moerlein Lager House for the February URBANexchange tonight! This month’s event is dedicated to sneckdowns, the snow filled islands in roads where cars do not travel but where pedestrians could one day roam.

As always, the event will be a casual setting where you can meet others interested in what is happening in the city. We will gather in the biergarten so that each person can choose how much or little they buy in terms of food or drink. Although we do encourage our attendees to generously support our kind hosts at the Moerlein Lager House.

URBANexchange is free and open to the public. This month we are giving away two $25 gift cards from Findlay Market as door prizes so be sure to drop your name into the raffle.

We will be situated in the northwest corner of the biergarten (near the Moer To Go window), but you can also ask the host where the UrbanCincy group is located and they will be happy to assist.

The Moerlein Lager House is located on Cincinnati’s central riverfront and is located just one block from a future streetcar stop. If you choose to bike there is free and ample bike parking is available near our location in the biergarten outside by the Schmidlapp Event Lawn.

Balls Around The Block Event to Raise Money for Fido Field Dog Park

As the number of people living in the center city continues to increase, so does the number of dogs. One of the problems, however, is that center city residents do not have yards where their dogs can run around or take care of other, let’s say, daily needs.

This is where dog parks come in.

The problem is that, in 2008, Cincinnati had just 1.2 off-leash dog parks per 100,000 thousand residents – ranking it 15th nationally according to the Trust for Public Land (TPL). The ratio has remained unchanged at 1.2 off-leash dog park per 100,000 residents, but other cities have made significant improvements since 2008 while Cincinnati has not. According the the TPL, Cincinnati has just four such dog parks and its ranking has plummeted 17 spots to 32nd in the nation.

This will be the ninth year for the annual Balls Around The Block (BATB) event downtown, and since 2010 the event has donated its proceeds to support Fido Field – an off-leash dog park on the eastern edge of downtown. While not a new dog park, the effort is helping improve Cincinnati’s standing.

Event organizers say that BATB raised more than $10,000 for Fido Field last year, which paid to top the large dog section with recycled rubber. The goal for this year is to raise more than $12,000 this year.

This year’s event is expected to attract more the one-hundred participants, as it has the past several years, and will include stops at 11 official venues in the Backstage Entertainment District block bounded by Sixth Street, Walnut Street, Seventh Street and Vine Street.

The event works with so many people due to the team setup. Organizers require that each person participating in the event sign-up a team consisting of 25 members. Each of the teams will start at different bars. From there participants will be instructed by group leaders once 30 minutes has lapsed and it is time to move on to the next destination.

Venues this year include Mr. Sushi, Knockbat Nats, Play, Local’s, Madonna’s, Nicholson’s, Righteous Room, Igby’s, Mynt, Rock Bottom and Scene, and each will have its own drink and food specials for those participating in BATB. Organizers also say that they will be giving out a variety of raffle prizes including gift cards to local businesses, adult beverages, doggie daycare and food, a Hustler gift basket and more.

This year’s event will cost $35 per person and will take place on Friday, February 7. Registration will close at 3pm the day of the event, but those who wish to register at the door can do so for $40 cash, if there are spots remaining.

Those that would like to contribute to the cause, but don’t have the balls (sorry, I had to) to participate, can make a tax-deductible donation by contacting the event organizers at ballsaroundtheblock@yahoo.com.

VIDEO: New Playground to Open at Smale Riverfront Park in May

Despite all the recent bad weather, work has been progressing on the 45-acre Smale Riverfront Park. The latest phase of construction activity has moved to the west side toward Paul Brown Stadium, and is now becoming visually identifiable.

The next part of the park that will open to the public is the Heekin/PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground, which is scheduled to be completed this May.

“The newest feature to be completed is a serpentine wall that’s along the east edge of the playground,” Smale Riverfront Park project manager Dave Prather explained the eight-minute video update. “The way its sculpted entices challenges and encourages folks to do a balance beam walking and being challenged by the narrowness and the way it serpentines its way south toward a toddler-sized slide that is en route and will be installed in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, a series of columns, approximately 75% complete, are now jutting up from the ground at Carol Ann’s Carousel and the Anderson Pavilion.

The glass-enclosed carousel will sit on the upper level of the site that will be flanked by the historic Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Vine Street Fountain & Steps. Cincinnati Park Board officials say that the Vine Street design will mirror that of the currently completed Walnut Street Fountain & Steps.

The Anderson Pavilion will include an event and conference center fronting onto the rebuilt Mehring Way and will sit directly beneath the carousel. Both the carousel and pavilion space are scheduled to open in spring 2015.

Prather goes on in great detail about the various construction activities, taking place now, and lays out what construction work will be taking place in the months ahead.

“There’s going to be a lot happening in the next six weeks or so.”