Development News Transportation

City adding bike lanes to Central Parkway, Spring Grove Avenue, Linn Street

As summer draws to a close, Cincinnati city officials will be installing several miles of new dedicated bike lanes and sharrows. According to the Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE), crews have already introduced bike lane symbols along Spring Grove Avenue, between Crawford Avenue and Mitchell Avenue, and will be completing the separation line later this week.

Other city streets to be improved later this summer include Central Parkway, between Brighton Place and Hopple Street, and Linn Street from W. 6th Street to Gest Street.  In total, the projects account for approximately two-and-a-half miles of new bicycle facilities.

“We know that Spring Grove Avenue is already a major bicycling corridor, and we hope that the addition of bicycle lanes will encourage even more people to try using a bicycle for casual trips,” said Curtis Hines, Spring Grove Avenue project manager.

According to Hines, the timing is perfect as all of the streets receiving the new bike lanes and sharrows were already scheduled for routine maintenance work.

“We’re committed to building streets with all users in mind, so we plan to continue incorporating bike lanes in as many street improvement projects as possible.”

The new bike lanes and sharrows come shortly after Cincinnati City Council approved dramatic new bicycle policies that include new safety regulations, parking requirements, and a comprehensive Bicycle Transportation Plan that calls for 445 miles of on- and off-street bicycle facilities to be installed by 2025.

Arts & Entertainment Business News

Brighton Gallery Walk to engage Cincinnati fashionistas, art lovers – 7/10

The Brush Factory in Brighton has only been open by appointment only this summer so that the designers could create more products, but the public is invited to come visit the fashion and jewelry boutique during the monthly Brighton Gallery Walk.

The event will take place from 7pm to 11pm, and will allow those interested to try out some of the clothes and jewelry put together by the boutique’s 11 designers.  Once in the fashionable attire, guests will then be treated to a unique photo booth experience so that they can ham it up for the camera all while being entertained by DJ Stacks.

The Brush Factory will be joined on Saturday night by four other galleries in the Brighton sub-neighborhood including U-Turn Art Space which is helping to establish the area as a bonafide creative district once again.

“Like many arts districts, one reason we live and work and mount exhibitions in Brighton is because it is a low-cost living, far cheaper (in our experience) than equivalent spaces in Over-the-Rhine proper or Northside,” says Matt Morris of U-Turn Art Space in an interview with Soapbox Cincinnati.  “The galleries in Brighton have the advantage of total creative license because they don’t function as anyone’s primary source of income and are therefore not restricted by market or commerce.”

The Brighton Gallery Walk is free and open to the public, and is best started at The Brush Factory (map).  Free on-street parking is available in addition to bicycle parking and Metro bus service (plan your trip) which are available in the sub-neighborhood.

Arts & Entertainment News

Cincinnati Museum Center to develop exchange program with Kenyan museum

The Cincinnati Museum Center has been awarded $150,000 through Museum & Community Collaboration Abroad (MCCA) that will support a cultural exchange program with the National Museums of Kenya Lamu Museums in eastern Africa.

The National Museums of Kenya was established in 1910 by the then East Africa & Uganda Natural History Society that set out to preserve artifacts of the area’s colonial settlers and naturalists. Over time the organization has experienced a wide variety of changes, which most recently was sparked by their “Museum in Change” program funding in part by the European Union. This program has led the organization on a mission to open itself up and become a “custodian of heritage” for the area while representing five key values of being authentic, reliable, unifying, caring and authoritative.

“This announcement is great news for the Cincinnati Museum Center,” U.S. Representative Steve Driehaus (D-OH) said in a press release. “The Museum Center is one of our community’s greatest assets, and an important part of our local heritage and history. This award will allow the Museum Center to share that heritage across cultures, while bringing a broader understanding of other cultures into our community.”

The $150,000 grant was awarded by MCCA which is administered by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and funded by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The funding is reportedly scheduled to continue through 2011.

Development News

Cincinnati Port Authority lands $1M grant for brownfield redevelopment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati has been awarded a $1 million grant that will be used to investigate contaminated properties throughout Hamilton County referred to as brownfields.

The $1 million grant is broken up into two separate categories that includes $800,000 to investigate properties contaminated with hazardous substances, while the remaining $200,000 has been earmarked for the investigation of properties contaminated with petroleum.

Brownfield sites are more problematic to redevelop due to the contamination of the site that is often very costly and time consuming to clean. As a result it is quite typical that government agencies assist in such remediation processes in the form of financial assistance or liability deferral. Most recently the City of Cincinnati pledged to assist Boston Beer Company in its expansion efforts that include the redevelopment of a contaminated property adjacent to their existing West End operations.

“Returning brownfield sites to productive use has tremendous benefits for Cincinnati and Hamilton County,” said Port Authority President Kim Satzger. “A clean site is an enduring contribution to our environment and our economy.”

The collaborative effort between the Port Authority, City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will focus on priority areas identified in the GO Cincinnati report including the Mill Creek Corridor, Madison Road Corridor and Seymour/Reading Road Corridor.

“As Greater Cincinnati’s industrial base declined, many Hamilton County communities were left with a legacy of abandoned and underutilized properties,” said Christine Russell, Director of Brownfield Development at the Port Authority who believes that the grant money offers an opportunity to continue to redevelop affected properties throughout the county.

According to the Port Authority, since 2001 it has worked on nine brownfield sites in Hamilton County, returned 157 acres of land to productive use, removed over 80,000 tons of contaminated soil, captured nearly 384,000 gallons of polluted water, recycled more than 1.7 million tons of steel and over 164,000 tons of concrete. Port Authority officials estimate that these projects have resulted in a $1.35 billion annual economic impact and supported 13,793 jobs.

Brownfield clean up work photo provided.


Cincinnati showing improvements over 2000 Census response rates

Lower Price Hill, the West End, Over-the-Rhine, Mt. Auburn, Clifton Heights and Corryville make up much of Cincinnati’s center city neighborhoods, and they also represent some of the lowest Census 2010 response rates to date. As of Monday, April 12 most of Cincinnati’s center city neighborhoods were below the 66% national average response rate while the East End, Clifton, Hyde Park, East Walnut Hills and Mt. Lookout all reporting at or above the national average.

A Census tract representing the northern portion of the West End is currently at a low 39%, while two Census tracts representing Pendleton and part of Walnut Hills have registered 43% and 42% response rates respectively. The lowest in the City of Cincinnati is Fay Apartments, an official City neighborhood and its own Census tract, at 34%. The City of Cincinnati in its entirety is at 63%, while Hamilton County has a 71% response rate making it the highest of Ohio’s five most populous counties.

Back in Cincinnati’s center city the success story is overwhelmingly the Census tracts that make up Over-the-Rhine. All four of the Census tracts there are already well above the Census 2000 response rates with two of the tracts a dramatic 21% higher already. Meanwhile, the Census tract in Over-the-Rhine that has been publicized for being one of the most difficult to count in the nation is currently at 44% which is 17% higher than the final Census 2000 tally.

“We are pleased with the appearance of an increase in participation, especially in OTR,” said Katherine Keough-Jurs, Senior City Planner with the City of Cincinnati’s Department of City Planning & Buildings who went on to note that the data collection methods differ from 2000 to 2010 and thus make the numbers more difficult to compare.

“Technically, comparing 2000 to 2010 is little bit like comparing apples and oranges,” Keough-Jurs explained. “Still, we are pleased that so far OTR is showing 40% to 53% participation rates and that some City neighborhoods are as high as 80%.”

The areas surrounding the University of Cincinnati had initially been slow to report and were initially some of the most under-performing in Cincinnati. The past week has seen a rapid increase in the number of responses in these neighborhoods with all now reporting at levels comparable to 2000 Census response rates with months still to go thanks to a 10% surge.

Cincinnati Counts workers have been hitting Cincinnati’s streets for months working to inform people about the 2010 Census. The good looking group on the right is a group of fellow Urban Planning students I knew while at the University of Cincinnati (shout out!).

The real paradigm exists when you move from the difficulties of counting center city populations to their suburban counterparts. As of April 12th, the west side community of Green Township boasted the highest response rate (83%) in the entire nation for communities with more than 50,000 people.

Census workers will continue to visit households that have yet to respond through July to help drive up those response rates before they must, by law, deliver the Census results to the President in December. Keough-Jurs notes that households with forms not turned in by Friday, April 16 may receive a visit from a door-to-door enumerator in May.

“Our 100-plus Complete Count Committee members are still working hard to get the word out that the census is simple, safe and important, and reminding people to complete and return their Census forms,” explained Keough-Jurs.

Those who have lost or have not received a form can pick up an additional form at local libraries and post offices. There are also Be Counted Centers that have forms available, and Questionnaire Assistance Centers that have helpers there to assist individuals with filling out their forms. You can find the closest Be Counted or Questionnaire Assistance Center near you online.