Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Mount Adams residents question Art Club plans

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Shirley and Paul Lynch are concerned about the Cincinnati Art Club's plans to expand onto Park Board property next door.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        Shirley Lynch has lived on Paradrome Street in Mount Adams all of her 70 years, has raised four children with her husband, Paul, and has seen plenty of changes in the hilltop neighborhood with its striking views.

        But what she doesn't care to see is the Cincinnati Art Club expand its home on Parkside Place, just a block away. The price — less green space and more traffic —is too high, says Mrs. Lynch.

        The art club says it has to expand to house the Cincinnati Public Schools' prized art col lection, but it's too soon to say by how much and what it will cost. Though the group is negotiating for the Cincinnati Park Board-owned land next to its building, the expansion could be “years away,” said David Klocke, president of the art club.

        “It's going to create a lot of problems,” said Mrs. Lynch, a sixth-generation resident of Mount Adams. “It seems like it's going to bring more people on the hill. The traffic congestion is bad enough.”

        The 109-year-old art club is the second oldest continuously operated art club in the United States. On weekends, the club sponsors free art exhibits. Last year, the club exhibited about 45 paintings of the CPS' collection of art. Because the exhibit was so successful, Mr. Klocke said, it sparked discussions about the club becoming perma nent caretakers of the entire collection.

        In the early part of the century, the Art League collected pennies, nickels and dimes donated by schoolchildren to buy the paintings, which originally hung in school buildings.

        The artwork now is in storage at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal because the district has nowhere to put it. The school board is helping the club find land for the expansion. One likely solution, said former CPS board member Virginia Griffin, has the school board swapping land it has no use for with the park board.

        “It's by far the most feasible option because the art club already has a building on that site,” said Mrs. Griffin, a member of the art advisory board, which is composed of district officials and art club members.

        Preliminary plans are being reviewed by the Mount Adams Civic Association's zoning committee, said committee member George Morano. Residents will be able to comment at its June 29 meeting. The committee will make a recommendation to the association, which will discuss the matter July 6.The final decision on rezoning rests with the city's Environmental Quality Hillside District 4.

        “Frankly, we haven't seen anything specific enough about it to know whether it's good, bad, whether it's going to fit on the space, how it's going to affect anything or not,” said Malcolm Bernstein, president of the civic association.

        Kathleen Hueneman said residents need to take a “wait-and-see position before making a judgment” on the expansion.

        Some neighbors aren't waiting. They are discussing circulating a petition.

        Dave Gilb, who lives next door to the “apron of green grass,” is among those who oppose the expansion.

        “I'm not for it,” Mr. Gilb said. “For them to build anything on it, I don't think it would be right.”

        Many residents remain bitter about no longer being able to use ball fields in Eden Park off Martin Drive, after the park began last year hosting youth arts programs on the grounds. They say the move was made without much notification.

        “It seems like the children up here are really getting robbed of everything,” Mrs. Lynch said. “And now they're taking next door for the art club.”

        She adds that residents have always been concerned about the lack of green space in Mount Adams.

        “Families up here are really getting discouraged because there's nothing up here for children anymore,” she said. “It seems like they just keep taking more and more.”

        Ken Messer of Paradrome admits he is still upset about the way the ball fields were taken away without notice. But, he said he does not object to the art club's proposed expansion.

        Tom Yacchari of Paradrome said he was not aware the club wanted to expand, but agreed with neighbors that it would “create a (traffic) problem over there.”

        Some residents say they want more information about the expansion before they form an opinion. “I don't think we know enough about it at this point to say that we like it or dislike it,” Mr. Bernstein said.

        Steve Schuckman, superintendent of planning, administration and programs for the Cincinnati Park Board, said the board's decision to part with the land will consider the potential impact the expanded facility could have on the neighborhood and what residents think.

        The board hasn't made any decisions, Mr. Schuckman said.

        But Ms. Hueneman said, “Experience has taught me that when dealing with the park board, Mount Adams doesn't really have a voice. I'd like to see that changed. Mount Adams wants to be involved in all decisions concerning our neighborhood — whether it be with the park board, the city or any group, for that matter.”

        Many residents agree the art club is an integral part of this neighborhood of 1,300-plus people. They add that they have a good working relationship with the club, and aren't anti-development; they just want a say in what happens in their neighborhood. “(We want) something that fits,” Mr. Bernstein said, “something that goes with the type of community that Mount Adams is.”


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