Friday, July 25, 2003

Blue Ash seeks spending ideas

Survey will ask residents to prioritize improvements

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BLUE ASH - The ideas range from buying the Blue Ash Airport to building a better fitness center.

After receiving hundreds of suggestions on how to spend nearly $8 million set aside each year for capital improvements - everything from roadwork to recreation facilities - city leaders are getting ready to send out a citywide survey to prioritize Blue Ash's long-term to-do list.

  Blue Ash wants to use residents' suggestions to assemble a list of future city projects. Here's how to contact city hall:
• Call 745-8500.
• E-mail
• Fax 745-8594
Residents have until the end of the day today to send in last-minute suggestions for needed projects.

"Since we serve at the pleasure of citizens, we wanted their input on what they wanted to see done," city Treasurer Jim Pfeffer said.

He said officials hope residents will come up with ideas "that are above and beyond the norm."

So far, city hall has received written suggestions from about 20 residents and countless requests from city workers.

Members of City Council have solicited hundreds more from conversations with neighbors.

Those ideas will be put out for residents to rank in a survey to be mailed out this fall. City leaders plan to use the survey to create Blue Ash's five-year capital improvement plan.

"We're kind of taking a pulse of what it is the people really want," Pfeffer said. "What it all boils down to is, if they're not happy, we're not happy."

Although Pfeffer said his city has weathered the current budget storm without much damage, there is expected to be a more limited pool of money for major city projects.

That raises the stakes for city leaders to prioritize projects to keep residents happy.

"We wanted to cast a bigger net and make sure we had the largest possible pool of ideas to carry forward" into the plan, Mayor Rick Bryan said.

"We've received some very good input so far."

Among the projects that could be considered: a performing arts center, expanded public fitness center, family aquatics center and public banquet and meeting facilities.

The city already has a $6.1 million fire station under construction, a decision the mayor said was easy to make. Choosing new projects in the city, which already boasts numerous services, is more difficult, he said.

"In the past there were more opportunities for improvement, as we were a city that was just developing," Bryan said.

"It was clear there was a need for a north firehouse. We had a clear and present need for a new service garage. Things like that, the need was clear and the interests of citizens in doing that was clear enough that you didn't need to confirm it."


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