Friday, December 14, 2001

Park, garages emphasized

County talks about The Banks project

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County officials are suggesting they may need help from the state or federal government to build $60 million in parking garages for the proposed riverfront development known as The Banks.

        In a letter sent to Port Authority officials Thursday, County Administrator Dave Krings suggests ways the county and Port Authority can work together to make the parking garages happen, beginning next year.

        Among the suggestions:

        • The county and Port Authority work together to find money from other sources — including, but not limited to, the city of Cincinnati, as well as state and federal governments.

        • The county and Port Authority develop a new time schedule to start the various phases of construction.

        • The county, city and Port Authority work together on the central riverfront park.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune endorsed the last point. He sent a letter Thursday to Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken saying the park should be the development's first priority.

        The Port Authority, county and city need to find “ways to get us off the dime on the most important aspect of The Banks, but one that has had scant attention and leadership — that being the riverfront park,” Mr. Portune's letter says.

        Mr. Luken was unavailable for comment.

        The Cincinnati Park Board has received $1 million to begin designing the $78 million park.

        But Congress denied cash this year for an Army Corps of Engineers study that would help determine how much federal money should be spent on the greenspace. The park district will apply for that money in 2002.

        Jack Rouse, chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Port and Development Authority, said his organization will work with the county to find solutions. And Mr. Rouse agreed that the park needs to be a priority.

        The county says it can't afford to build the garages now, because sales tax revenue is declining.

        Port Authority has responded with a proposal that would have a local bank lending the county money, should sales tax revenue not be enough to cover the debt payments on the garage. But the county has expressed concerns with that proposal.


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