Thursday, October 05, 2000

Port Authority sanctioned

By Dan Klepal and Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A newly created Port Authority is now in charge of remodeling Cincinnati's Riverfront, along with continuing the old port authority's efforts to clean up polluted industrial sites around Hamilton County.

        In separate meetings Wednesday, Hamilton County officials and Cincinnati council members agreed on the powers and responsibilities for the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority.

        The port will hire a developer and oversee the construction of an ambitious development plan called The Banks, which will build housing and an entertainment district atop riverfront parking garages.

        It's been four months in the making.

        A group of volunteers called the Riverfront Advisers recommended a reconstituted Port Authority to carry out the plan back in May. Specifics of how the port will operate have been discussed and argued ever since.

        “We've just put ourselves out of busi ness,” Jack Rouse, chairman of the advisers, said after the city's unanimous vote. “There are no more riverfront advisers.”

        County officials discussed an alternative plan, which differed only in the way minority hiring would be handled. They all preferred the alternative plan, but thought passing it would cause another delay.

        The fear is that the wording of minority hiring standards could put the port in a situation where they created quotas. That would be illegal under current Ohio law.

        “We can't let perfection be the enemy of good,” Commissioner Tom Neyer said. “I'm convinced that if we don't move forward with this, we'll have no opportunity to move forward at all.”

        Only Commissioner John Dowlin voted against the measure.

        Despite months of delays, council members shrugged off criticisms that they should have acted sooner.

        "We have made significant positive changes from the ordinance that we had in front of us months ago," said Councilman Todd Portune.


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