Monday, April 29, 2002

Firefighters' memorial in limbo

Likely to move, but location unknown

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati firefighters have suspected for years that their memorial to fallen colleagues might have to move when the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center grows.

        But as plans move ahead for that project, the firefighters still don't have a commitment about where the memorial might go.

        And the news that the Ohio Department of Transportation isready to give the city the land on Central Avenue on which the memorial sits leaves firefighters concerned.

        “We just need somebody to commit to an answer,” said Capt. Paul Garbon, chairman of the memorial committee. “And we want it to be down where it can be seen and be in the public's eye.”

        They haven't started raising the several million dollars they expect it will cost to build the newmemorial. Firefighters want it to be more of a park-like setting. They also want it to include more history about the Cincinnati Fire Department, founded in 1853 as the first professionally paid fire department in the United States. The committee has been working on the project for about two years and has preliminary plans designed by the GBBN architectural firm. They've asked to put it on one of the decks over Fort Washington Way, Capt. Garbon said, but haven't gotten a response.

        ODOT is ready to give Cincinnati the rights to the 65-foot strip of land along Interstate 75 where the memorial stands for the convention center expansion. But ODOT wants to make a deal — that Cincinnati will give up its plan to open a ramp from Third Street to Interstate 75.

        The city built the $1.5 million “Ramp EE” during the reconstruction of Fort Washington Way, but has never gotten permission from ODOT to open it. State engineers say it would be dangerous to open the ramp because of its proximity to the Fourth Street on-ramp.

        The memorial was started in 1968 by a Holy Name Society chapter composed of retired Catholic firefighters. It's kept up with money in a fund maintained by the firefighters' union.


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