Friday, August 24, 2001

Sayler Park seeks funds

Auction to help pay bills in fight with Lone Star

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Neighbors in Sayler Park have combed their closets, cleared out basements and put up family heirlooms and personal collectibles, all for a remarkable public auction today to raise funds to fight an Indianapolis cement company's plans to erect silos in this riverfront neighborhood.

        Need a Wild West saddle? Or a $2 bill signed by then-U.S. Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow? How about a pre-Civil War canebrake dining room chair? All have become weapons in Sayler Park's battle.

[photo] Dozens of signs such as this one along Hillside Avenue have been erected to declare opposition to Lone Star Industries.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        They are among hundreds of items that will be auctioned off, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Sayler Park Athletic Fields, 6607 Hillside Ave., to raise money for a legal fund.

        Residents in this Cincinnati neighborhood of 3,465 people have been searching their basements and garages for items to sell.

        “We want to keep our community the quiet, Charles Dickens-type community we have,” says Betty Kamuf, a member of Sayler Park Village Council, who lives across the street from the proposed silo site. “We don't know how much it will cost us to fight the company, but we know it is going to be expensive.”

        She said the community council doesn't have a specific amount to raise.

        The community has been fighting Lone Star Industries, which plans to build two, 100-foot-tall silos at 6381 River Road, about 12 miles west of downtown Cincinnati.

        Barbara Sinclair, Lone Star director of communication, said the company plans to go ahead with the project.

[photo] Betty Kamuf holds a fish bowl to be auctioned off in the fund-raiser
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        “We purchased the land when it was zoned industrial,” she said. “We have not asked for any variances. What we need there is a terminal. It will not be a manufacturing plant.”

        Residents have balked, saying the terminal will blemish their neighborhood and pollute the air.

        Ernest Macke, vice president of the community council, said they have retained a lawyer to help fight the company. “We believe there are other sites in Sayler Park that would be more suitable to an industrial development,” Mr. Macke said. “Even though this site is zoned industrial, it sits across the street from a residential area. The cement silos would block the view of the Ohio River and also emit dust to the community.”

        Lone Star officials have said most of the 20-acre site will not be developed. They said it will be mainly a distribution center, served by barges.

        There is practically no industrial development in the two-mile stretch where Sayler Park runs along the Ohio River on River Road from Gracely Drive on the east to Muddy Creek Road on the west, except for a sewage treatment plant. It is bordered on the north by Hillside Avenue and the Ohio River on the south.

        “We are a bedroom community with an old housing stock,” Mrs. Kamuf said.

        This westside Cincinnati neighborhood has 603 houses, roughly 75 years old. City statistics show that 69 percent of Sayler Park residents are homeowners. Median family income here is $38,345.

        City Councilman John Cranley attended a public hearing in April along with Sayler Park residents, representatives from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Mr. Cranley spoke against the development.

        The corps has not issued a permit yet. EPA issued the company an air permit, but has not issued a water permit.

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