Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Second floor of highway planned




By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There are only a couple of rules for the proposed $62.8 million decks over Fort Washington Way — and architects say even these can be bent.

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Lanscaped areas would cover decks over Fort Washington Way between Second and Third streets.
(Mike Simons photos)
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        First, they need to be park-like, green with grass and trees. They also need to be open to the public.

        Unveiling initial designs, architects told about 50 people at the main library Monday that almost nothing is being ruled out for the three-block-long decks that will fit like lids over Fort Washington Way.

        From there, some residents envision a giant Ferris wheel rotating slowly over the highway; others see a carousel and a children's play area, a reflecting pool, an ice rink, veterans and firefighter memorials or even cafes.

        “When we're done, we won't have a scheme,” George Hargreaves of Hargreaves Associates told the audience. “We'll have a framework. ... The design will evolve over time.”

        Instead of presenting a completed design, Mr. Hargreaves showed scale models of the decks and offered concepts of what might be considered.

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George Hargreaves of Hargreaves Associates discusses plans.
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        From these minimal models of slopes and trees, residents talked up their own ideas for the decks that are supposed to link downtown to the central riverfront and the revitalization project called The Banks.

        All that was missing was the money that will make the decks a reality.

        “In the next few years, we will need tens of millions of dollars,” said Dave Prather, Cincinnati Park Board planner. “It continues as a puzzle.”

        So far, the city has paid $10 million to put in the pilings needed to support the decks. But it will take $40 million to install the decks and another $12.8 million has been budgeted for landscaping, but has not been allocated.

        The issues raised Monday, however, were about designs, not finances. And the two biggest ones revolved around where to put ventilation units — one-story structures housing fans — and how to build open areas in the park needed to circulate air through the tunnel the lids would create.

        Again, Mr. Hargreaves offered various solutions, saying the vents could be hidden by restrooms, restaurants, memorials or fountains and that the open areas could be moved from the edges of the park to the middle, or sculpted to provide access from crosswalks.

        This was the second meeting to generate residents' ideas for the decks. City park planners will recommend some of the best of these to the park board, which will vote this spring on what to include in plans.

        “I was really impressed. I wasn't sure where the whole project stood until now,” said Cincinnati resident Brian Magnarini. “I really like the idea of there being room for memorials in a real park-like setting.”

       



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