Everybody seems to be in agreement that the Port Authority is an important development tool for our region.
Legislated by Ohio state law, authorized and funded by City Council and the Hamilton County Commissioners, the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati can own land, issue bonds and levy taxes approved by voters. Originally formed for the purpose of addressing sites with brownfield issues, the agency’s ambitions have grown significantly since their inception in 2000. Possible projects reported in the press in the last year include the Brent Spence Bridge (that one’s been abandoned – but it gives us an idea of how high they are aiming), re-imagining Queensgate, spearheading the rehab of the housing stock in Evanston and a desire to be the same kind of catalyst for development in the region that 3CDC has been in the city center.
That’s a big vision and a lot of power for a quiet, nine member, politically appointed board. By way of comparison 3CDC’s board has 33 community leaders watching over the public interests and as a non-profit they can’t own land, issue bonds, or levy taxes. This year 3 new members of the board have been appointed to the Port and include Mario San Marco of Eagle Realty (developer of Queen City Square, the biggest project by far ever negotiated by the Port) and Charlie Luken, long-time critic of the planning function of city government.
It is our responsibility as citizens to stay informed about such an important governing body.
With that in mind I am putting out a call for volunteers for the Port Authority Citizen Brigade, anybody and everybody who wants to be a part of the conversation about the future of our built environment in Cincinnati, all the big projects that require significant public support to get them done. Requirements to join are a touch of urban nerdiness combined with a willingness to get up at a ridiculously early hour in order to get downtown in time for the Wednesday, 8 a.m. meetings.
Here’s the calendar for 2015:
If you’ve ever wanted to have an impact on the future of the city you love, this is your chance. It may not seem like much, but bearing witness is one of the most important roles a citizen can play. For democracy to function as it was intended, our governing bodies need to know that they are being watched and we are sharing what we learn with each other. We need lots of engaged, informed brains paying attention on these big decisions that will impact the investment of community resources for decades to come.Please join me next Wednesday at the Taft Center at Fountain Square, 425 Walnut St., 2nd Floor Atrium at 8 A.M. It’s really, really important.