Saturday, June 02, 2001

Cincinnati, Blue Ash break off talks on airport sale

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Negotiators have given up for now bridging the wide gulf between the city of Cincinnati's asking price for the Blue Ash Airport and what the city of Blue Ash is willing to pay.

        But Blue Ash City Manager Marvin Thompson said Friday he is still “very optimistic” that within a few years, his city and Cincinnati officials will come together on a price for the 226-acre site.

        “We're just not getting anywhere and won't this year,” Mr. Thompson said. “But things will change.”

        Mr. Thompson would not comment on it, but one thing that will change Dec. 1 is the Cincinnati city administration, headed by City Manager John Shirey, whose resignation is effective on that date.

        Mr. Shirey's administration has asked $30 million for the airport, plus half of the earnings taxes that come from development of the site.

        Mr. Thompson called that offer “ludicrous.” Blue Ash has offered $20 million.

        Blue Ash has been trying to acquire the property for 14 years and wants to set aside 90 acres in the site for a new office park.

        The Blue Ash city manager said the $20 million offer was based on an extensive evaluation of what the property is worth.

        “We can't budge from that,” Mr. Thompson said. “And the idea that we would give up half the (earnings tax) revenue to Cincinnati — well, that would be disastrous.”

        Mr. Shirey could not be reached for comment Friday.

        Cincinnati Councilman Pat DeWine, who chairs council's community development committee, said Friday he does not understand why Mr. Shirey “seems totally unwilling to give up this piece of property.”

        Mr. DeWine said he believes the city should consider auctioning off the property, to see if it would bring the kind of money the city administration is asking.


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