600 Washington Ave. Newport
via press release... but not to Brian Thomas
The City Manager has unveiled the Administration’s plan to unlock the value of our parking resources. The partner selected is not a private company, but our local Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority.
I listened to the details in a 3-hour Finance Committee meeting Monday and asked questions on behalf of citizens. These are the important points of the deal, in my opinion:
1. No parking rates will go up until after technological investments by the Port Authority are made. All city meters will be improved to accept payment by credit card and smart phone.
2. Downtown parking rates will remain at $2/hour and rates in neighborhoods will be set at $.75/hour, only after the upgrades. Rate increases are capped at 3% per year. Parking on holidays and Sundays will be free, as it is now.
3. The Port Authority may NOT raise rates or change parking policies. There will be an advisory committee put in place by the City Manager to handle any issues that develop regarding our contract with the Port Authority.
4. The parking deal will not prevent neighborhoods from doing something different with their parking in the future, such as Mt. Lookout, which hopes one day turn its parking island into green space and build a parking garage nearby.
5. Parking will be enforced 8 am to 9 pm downtown and 7 am to 9 pm in neighborhoods, not 24 hours a day as some had feared.
This partnership offers many benefits for citizens. It enables the City to do major economic development projects to help us thrive and grow and raise new revenues to prevent budget deficits in the future. It ensures that for the next two years, we will avoid major layoffs of police and firefighters that would otherwise be necessary.
The City Manager proposes ways to spend the $92 million upfront payment he considers “transformative,” and his memo is attached. One I want to highlight is purchasing the unused Wasson Way railroad track to create the Wasson Way Bike Trail. This project will do for Cincinnati what Loveland’s Bike Trail did for Loveland. The track goes through Evanston, Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Oakley and Madisonville, connecting hundreds of miles of bike trails and paths. The Wasson Way Bike Trail will increase business opportunities, property values, healthy living, and recreation opportunities and help retain “the creative class” in Cincinnati. As the mother of a 5 year-old and an 18 year-old, the thought of families riding to a bike path, instead of throwing bikes in the car and driving to Loveland, is thrilling.
I would also like to see some funding invested in expanding quality early childhood education programs that have been proven to be the difference in whether children succeed or fail in school, and end up as productive citizens or convicts. Only 25% of Cincinnati children get what they need. Business, civic and educational leaders agree funding this human investment is important to the city, and our country. I think this qualifies as “transformative.”
Hearing from You
I hope you will read the details of the parking proposal and let me know what you think: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/parking/parking-system-modernization/
There are two public hearings scheduled. Monday, Feb. 25th at 6 pm at City Hall, 801 Plum Street, 45202. There is a second public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 6 pm in a community location to-be-decided. Check the city website for the location.
To give you some perspective, Cincinnati currently has some of the lowest parking rates in the country. However, we can’t simply raise rates ourselves to unlock the potential of our parking asset because law restricts the way parking funds may be used. The partnership with the Port Authority allows us to unlock the parking revenue stream to benefit citizens much more than we could on our own.