Saturday, March 23, 2002

Park hopes to be halted

State budget delays plan

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ST. BERNARD — Plans to convert a vacant area in St. Bernard to a walking park, using some state funds, will be delayed at least until the state figures out its budget this fall.

        Mayor Barbara Siegel said the city has requested $75,000 from the state to help convert the 1.3 acres, the last site of the Miami-Erie Canal, into a walking park.

        “Ordinarily the state does the capital improvement budget in the spring,” Mayor Siegel said. “This year they will not do it until this fall.”

        Seniors who live near the area came up with the idea of making it a walking park to preserve a piece of rich history, and also to prevent the land from being used to build a 36-unit, $3.8 million senior housing project.

        After a year of squabbling with the seniors, the city was convinced to support the park idea.

        Both sides have agreed to preliminary ideas for the park, such as lights, flower pots, pavers engraved with donors' names, and wrought-iron benches.

        “I don't think it is going to require a lot to convert the area to a park,” Mayor Siegel said.

        The site runs along a single-family housing area with a row of trees on one side.

        Kevin Meier, who lives on Andulas Court near the site, led the fight last year to challenge the city's plan.

        “While we are waiting on the state funds, we will walk through the area with an engineering firm the city uses to see what has to be done,” Mr. Meier said.

        Dolores Rutemueller of Harvey Court near the site said if the state funds are not enough to convert the site to a park, the seniors' group will raise the rest of the money.


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