Friday, August 03, 2001

Plan to move Job Corps opposed

Federal agency seeks College Hill location

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A plan to move the Cincinnati Job Corps Center to a residential neighborhood has some College Hill residents — and Cincinnati City Council — riled up.

        The Job Corps, a federal job training program now located on Western Avenue in the West End, has 225 students ages 16 to 24. About half are residents of the center.

        The U.S. Department of Labor wants to move the center to the 27-acre Hamilton Avenue site now occupied by Phoenix International, which has closed.

        Cincinnati City Council voted Wednesday to direct the city manager to use “every legal means” to block the move. Council members said the area isn't zoned for such a high-density job training campus, although the federal government is exempt from local zoning laws.

        Neither Forest Corbin, the director of the Cincinnati Job Corps program, nor the Cleveland public relations firm hired to help with community relations, returned phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

        Councilman John Cranley, who drafted the City Council action, said the Job Corps has repeatedly snubbed efforts to involve neighborhood groups in its plans.

        “It's obvious why they operate in secrecy. It doesn't take a genius to realize what the likely reaction would be,” he said.

        U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, who chaired a subcommittee that overhauled the Job Corps program in 1998, called the bureaucratic decision to move the Cincinnati center “arrogant.”

        “Job Corps has not done a good job of letting the local community know what's going on. In fact, they've done an abysmal job,” he said.

        Mr. Cranley said College Hill, a diverse neighborhood with one of the city's highest rates of home ownership, can ill afford to have such a neighbor.

        With so many people moving to the suburbs and the city losing 20 percent of its population since 1980, Mr. Cranley he asked, “Are we trying to commit suicide?”

        James Bodmer, a College Hill resident who lives a mile away, said he's not opposed to the aims of the Job Corp program. But he worries about the effect that 16- to 24-year olds — many of whom are from outside the city — would have on the neighborhood.

        “It may be perception rather than reality, but I see a lot of people putting "For Sale' signs up and not saying anything,” he said.

        Mr. Cranley has asked the city manager to report to the council what it knows about the relocation within a week.


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