In my most recent post I mentioned that 5 out of 7 Commissioners on the Planning Commission said almost nothing during the public hearing on the re-designation of the Lytle Park Historic District. But that’s not completely accurate. When it was his turn to speak, Interim City Manager, Scott Stiles, did say something very interesting.
He reminded everybody about what a good job the City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation did on the recent improvements at the corner of Fourth & Broadway.
Scott Stiles didn’t talk about historic buildings or preservation. He chose to use his five minutes to politely point out a small road project where an “inconvenient jog” had been removed from the intersection.
Most people in attendance probably didn’t even register Scott’s strange non sequitur, but I did. Loud and clear. When Mario was helping me on Cincinnati Dreams Italy, he mentioned plans for outdoor patio seating at the University Club on that corner and I was pretty sure Mr. Stiles was referring to construction done to facilitate the addition.
Walking down Fourth St. east towards the park, you can’t miss it. Last year the sidewalk was widened so the Club could add a low brick wall connected by wrought iron fencing that matches the small installation at the old Academy of Medicine building next door. It’s not a big area, just enough for 5 or 6 tables. A couple of times I’ve noticed a white-coated waiter folding napkins and lighting candles, but the new amenity doesn’t seem to have caught-on yet with Club members and I’ve never seen anybody sitting there.
So as soon as I got home from the Planning Commission that day, I immediately did 2 things:
1. I sent an email to the Mayor and every Council member about my extreme disappointment on the timing of Amy Murray’s motion to remove the Broadway buildings from the District after public testimony was complete, thwarting any possibility of genuine public debate. Either she was stupid or she wasn’t and I didn’t like either possibility.
2. I emailed my friend, Michael Moore, Director of Transportation for the City of Cincinnati, and asked him how much the City spent to remove this “inconvenient jog.”
Michael Moore is one of my favorite people down at City Hall and an incredible asset to this city. I worked with him in 2008-2009 on Cincinnati’s new bicycle plan. Even so, I’m pretty sure he would have preferred not to give me those figures. I had to ask three different people under the Ohio Public Records Act – but I finally got them along with a sincere apology from Michael for the delay. (He really is a busy guy.)
Here’s what he said:
“The project cost was $566,605.80, and the project was funded through parts of several City capital programs including Street Rehabilitation, Traffic Signal Rehabilitation and improvements, Downtown Infrastructure, and Curb Ramp Replacement, amongst others. Private property purchases (which again, went back into the project costs) are outlined below by property address:
1. University Club 324 Broadway / 401 East 4th Street 47,200.00
2. Princeton Properties / Sheakley 320 – 322 Broadway 20,100.00
3. Eagle Realty / Western & Southern 318 Broadway 22,000.00
4. Eagle Realty / Western & Southern 314 Broadway 9,100.00
Final City costs totaled $468,205.80.”
Western & Southern does a great job of consistently reminding the community about all their positive contributions, big and small. Scott Stiles was the only person I’ve ever seen stand up for the City and remind Western & Southern of all we do for them that makes this a great place to do business. I’d like to see more open discussion of those benefits – small benefits like widening the sidewalk for outdoor seating at a private club and gigantic benefits like those received on Queen City Square – from more of our public officials on a regular basis. Somebody needs to stand tall for Cincinnati, a place that has successfully attracted and retained a lot of big companies over the years. We’re clearly an accommodating place to do business and whatever we do to get that business, we should be proud to shout it to the world.