Sunday, February 06, 2000

Deal might stymie rail station

Parking lot may fill site by river

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A tug of war is on over 12 acres just west of Cincinnati's central riverfront known as the Crosset site.

        One group sees it becoming a parking lot — at least temporarily — for the Bengals. Another group envisions it with a station serving passengers on a proposed high-speed train linking Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago.

        Hamilton County and Cincinnati leaders reached a tentative deal last week that maps out where commuters will park while streets are built on Cincinnati's riverfront. And the Crosset site is earmarked as a spot for temporary parking.

        “The city agreed to make it available to the county in order to provide parking during street modification,” said lawyer Thomas Gabelman, who is negotiating on behalf of the county. “That would be temporary use, but we're antici pating the street grid to take a period of years.”

        But it's a move that alarms Cincinnati Councilman Todd Portune.

        “It's open-ended and potentially restrictive for us,” Mr. Portune said.

        The Crosset site, at the northwest corner of Pete Rose Way and Central Avenue, was identified last year as best for a train station. Business travelers would find it close to downtown. Leisure travelers would find it close to riverfront attractions.

        Without that site as an option, some train proponents fear it could hurt Cincinnati's chances for high-speed rail that would carry passengers from Cincinnati to Chicago in about four hours. Construction could start as early as 2002, and trains could be running by 2005.

        Hamilton County commissioners approved the agreement last week. Cincinnati City Council referred it to committee and will discuss it Monday.

        County Administrator David Krings said the county hopes to acquire the site and that if the city really needs it as a transportation hub, a mixed-use arrangement might be worked out.


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