Saturday, August 11, 2001

Goals are be green and clean

Public's views invited

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Eight public meetings will be held around Hamilton County, covering both suburban and urban areas, seeking public comment and suggestions on conservation and environmental issues.

        Hosted by the Hamilton County Park District and Regional Greenspace Initiative (RGI), the meetings will be looking at ways to promote greenspace preservation and other environmental issues in the region.

   Here is the schedule for the public meetings on environmental issues:
   • 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Cribbet Recreation Center, 5903 Hawthorne Ave., Fairfax.
   • 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Heritage Center, 890 Eight Mile Road, Anderson Township.
   • 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Delhi Township Administration Building, 934 Neeb Road.
   • 7-9 p.m. Aug. 22, Oak Ridge Lodge, Mount Airy Forest, 5083 Colerain Ave.
   • 7-9 p.m. Aug. 23, Evanston Community Center, 3204 Woodburn Ave.
   • 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 25, Sharon Centre in Sharon Woods, 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville.
   • 7-9 p.m. Aug. 28, Winton Centre in Winton Woods, 10245 Winton Road, Springfield Township.
   • 7-9 p.m. Aug. 30, Bond Hill Community Center, 1501 Elizabeth Place.

        The impetus for the meetings is Clean Ohio Fund, a ballot issue approved by Ohio voters last November, which will generate about $100 million a year forbrownfield revitalization projects and greenspace.

        Hamilton County will receive more than $2.2 million of that money sometime next year. A natural resources assistance council will be appointed to rank and rate projects, based on applications received from communities.

        “We see this as a pretty good opportunity to get ahead of the curve a little,” said Jack Sutton, planning director for the park district.

        A report will be compiled once the public meetings are completed, but Mr. Sutton said that what they are doing is not part of any formal process on who gets Clean Ohio funding.

        “We will share that information with whoever is interested,” said Mr. Sutton. “But it's not going to be necessarily part of the process. It's not meant to usurp that process. Our timing just complements that. Hopefully, it will help them.”

        RGI is a citizen's task force of 34 members that is partnered with the OKI Regional Council of Governments.

        A portion of Clean Ohio Fund — $37.5 million — will be administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC). Hamilton County will get $2.28 million of that, based in part on population.

        An 11-member natural-resources assistance council, made up of public officials, conservation and environmental representatives, will be appointed to develop criteria for awarding grants to fund conservation projects.

        “Early next year, we are optimistic we can have projects funded,” said Mike Miller, of OPWC in Columbus.

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