Best Of 2019

In this politically passionate age, any proposal requiring public input can become a burning battle of words and hurt feelings. And there are few places in Cincinnati that have more ardent supporters than Burnet Woods and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. So when the CCAC floated a proposal to build its new home in the 90-acre park wedged between the University of Cincinnati, Clifton and Avondale, we expected acrimony. But we were pleasantly surprised. Both CCAC supporters and those who want the woods left alone made impassioned, reasonable and civil arguments for their side of things, and as the public debate went on, it seemed more and more like a win for the city either way. The beloved arts institution needs a new home after Cincinnati Public Schools took back the grand old Clifton School building the CCAC had been leasing. But changes to the woods have been touchy in the past. As land initially leased to the city by wealthy Cincinnatians Robert Burnet and William Groesbeck in 1874, the park encompassed more than 170 acres. After the city purchased most of the land outright, it lopped off 74 acres that in 1895 became home to UC. Half a century later, the city gave UC another 18 acres now occupied by the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and other buildings. Since then, some fans of the park have been increasingly vigilant about proposed alterations. Voters in 2015 rejected Issue 22, a controversial charter amendment suggested by Mayor John Cranley that would have created a fund for big changes to the woods as well as many other parks. The Cincinnati Park Board of Directors listened carefully and, at least this time around, opted against CCAC’s proposal. “As painful as the Burnet Woods process was, it was a good process,” board member Kevin Flynn said after the vote. “It shows that reasonable people can disagree reasonably.” We agree. Long live the CCAC. Long live Burnet Woods. Burnet Woods, 3251 Brookline Ave., Clifton,

City Life

This year, Cincinnati transit activists the Better Bus Coalition took it up a notch, providing free bus benches, pushing successfully for the city’s first bus-only lane during downtown rush hour and introducing a ballot initiative to boost bus funding. The coalition has done tons of social media activism around Metro’s struggles, highlighting aging buses, riders left waiting in the cold and more in daily posts. But the group takes things several steps further, too. They’ve engaged residents to create their own roadmap to a better Metro, for example. It remains to be seen whether voters will approve their proposed Cincinnati payroll tax increase, which the group estimates would cost a person in Cincinnati making $40,000 a year an extra $6.67 a month. Either way, expect the Better Bus Coalition to stay active in pushing for better transit service. Better Bus Coalition,

The renovated Ziegler Park Pool is turning into not only a community hot spot, but also a hip place to see and be seen. Partly because of the location (across from Alumni Lofts in the former School for Creative and Performing Arts), partly because of the cost (daily admission is $4 for adults, with a sliding fee scale for season passes) and partly because of the features. Helmed by 3CDC, this former Cincinnati Recreation Commission pool has undergone a significant makeover to encompass three distinct sections: a zero-depth wheelchair-accessible area, an area with lap lanes and another with a diving board and rock-climbing wall. As a community-first pool, the urban swim club also offers lessons, a swim team and activities like water aerobics. But we’re here for the Adult Swim parties. During these 21-and-up nights held monthly during the summer last year, there were DJs, wine, local craft beers (and Bud Light) and food trucks. In addition, Ziegler also hosted a Dog Swim to close out the season, inviting vaccinated and well-behaved canines into the pool for a dip. Ziegler Park Pool, 1322 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine,

2. American Can Lofts

3. The Boulevard at Oakley Station

4. Aqua on the Levee

5. Harper’s Point Apartments

6. Alumni Lofts

7. Newberry Lofts on 6th

8. Woodbrooke Apartments

9. The Waldo Apartments

10. The Gramercy on Garfield

2. Over-the-Rhine Community Housing

3. Model Group

2. Union Terminal

3. Cincinnati Observatory

2. Northside

3. Clifton

Like a mini version of the iconic London Eye, Skystar is a 15-story “observation wheel” that went up at The Banks downtown at the end of August to celebrate the riverfront development’s 10th anniversary. The Ferris wheel features 36 glass-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that take up to six riders on a 12-minute spin for a unique view of the river and Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines. The portable — yes, portable — tourist attraction has been traveling across America, setting up shop in cities including Norfolk, Virginia and Louisville, Kentucky to offer elevated views and a novel pop-up experience. At night, the wheel turns into a glowing orb with more than 1 million colored LED lights and casts a pretty cool neon reflection into the waters of the Ohio River. Skystar became so popular that the company extended its original stay from August to December 2018 through mid-June 2019, which means it will be around for Opening Day, the Taste of Cincinnati and Asian Food Fest. More than 100,000 people have ridden the wheel since its arrival. Skystar, 55 E. Freedom Way, Downtown,

2. Brian Garry

3. Pete Rose

4. Molly Wellmann

5. Tamaya Dennard

6. Bob Herzog

7. Anthony Muñoz

8. Nick Lachey

9. Drew Lachey

10. Cam Hardy (TIE)

10. Chris Seelbach (TIE)

2. Xavier University

3. Northern Kentucky University