Excuse me. I’m a little confused.
At the end of June Mayor Cranley announced his plan to put an initiative on the ballot to increase property taxes for dedicated parks’ funding. The list of projects he picked raised lots of questions, but one entry was especially troubling.
- A public-private partnership with Western & Southern Financial Group that would provide $5 million to renovate and reprogram Lytle Park;
The reason I am confused is because I just recently submitted a public records request for the estimated costs of the renovation of the park in front of my home. My friend, Steve Schuckman of the Park Department, was very helpful and got them for me right away.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is paying $1,000,000 to reconstruct the portion of the park being torn up to install new ventilation fans in the I-71 tunnel. Mayor Cranley’s property tax increase is intended to contribute another $5,000,000.
What I’m missing in this Mayor-branded public-private partnership is the private part of the equation. Where the heck is Western & Southern’s contribution and why are we are giving them naming rights like it’s a tennis tournament? I understand very clearly that John Barrett met regularly with Park Department design staff to cover such details as what shape of the sidewalk he would prefer. But I don’t understand what this city is getting in return and why Western & Southern gets such preferential treatment in private meetings that the public cannot attend.
Cincinnati’s negotiating skills with the corporate community could stand a little improvement, don’t you think? It’s like we’re the 90 lb. weakling at the beach with Charles Atlas kicking sand in our face.