Thursday, January 24, 2002

Hamilton OKs road through Millikin Woods

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — By a 4-3 vote Wednesday, City Council approved construction of a two-lane road through Millikin Woods.

        The decision followed more than an hour of discussion from 18 residents speaking for and against the road and ends a long, hotly-contested debate.

        The road will run through the 47-acre park in the middle of a residential area. Proponents say they hope the road will fuel economic development and revitalize the park.

        “This is a future for Hamilton,” Vice Mayor James Noonan said. “This is a moving council and a moving city.”

        The quarter-mile extension of Washington Boulevard from Millville Avenue to Sunset Drive could begin as soon as the city acquires permits from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

        This is the first phase of a three-part project that would extend Washington Boulevard from Millville Avenue to Main Street.

        “Let's move Hamilton forward,” urged Alice Hoover, 71, to applause from packed council chambers. “People like me who have lived here all these years deserve it.”

        Other residents complained the park isn't a safe and clean place to visit anymore.

        “This park has great potential,” said Gail Underwood Hoelle, 36. “The road will add a scenic drive so many residents will be able to use and enjoy the park.”

        Opponents have been fighting since 1997 to stop the city from building the road. They contend it would destroy 104 trees, harm wildlife and create safety problems. “It's a terrible blow, but I'm not surprised,” said Maureen Gallardo, 65, president of the Millikin Woods Preservation Association, a group that formed to halt the project. “I had a feeling this is how it would go.”

        The first phase would cost $1.1 million, while the entire project would cost between $4 million and $5 million. Federal funding will cover 80 percent of the cost, and Hamilton will pay the rest from its street fund. Mr. Noonan and council members Ed Shelton, Richard Holzberger and Christopher Flaig voted for the project; Mayor Donald Ryan and council members Katherine Becker and George McNally opposed.


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