Betting on Fountain Square

The renovation of Fountain Square is a go. Cincinnati City Council voted 7-1 June 15 to turn the redevelopment and operation of the square over to the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3C

slim Jim Puvee


City council has agreed to let the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. direct the use of Fountain Square for the next 40 years.



The renovation of Fountain Square is a go. Cincinnati City Council voted 7-1 June 15 to turn the redevelopment and operation of the square over to the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC). As early as this summer, 3CDC will begin remodeling the Fountain Square parking garage, redesigning the plaza above it and luring retail and restaurants into about 160,000 square feet of surrounding storefronts.

3CDC's plan includes building a restaurant pavilion above the Vine Street entrance to the garage, constructing a new sidewalk along Fifth Street, removing the skywalk, adding a new ice skating rink and creating a larger area for performances and events such as festivals and art shows. The organization held 11 public sessions to gather citizens' input on the Fountain Square redevelopment. The most consistently controversial aspect of the plan has been moving the Tyler Davidson Fountain itself, mostly because it's been reported to cost so much.

But 3CDC officials have argued that those costs were overestimated and that renovating the garage underneath the plaza will probably necessitate moving the fountain anyway, so they might as well get plunk it down a little farther north and toward the plaza's center.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman cast the lone dissenting vote. A financial planner, he wanted more time to analyze the deal.

"I don't understand the rush on voting on this today," he said.

Among other financial aspects of the deal, which calls for $4 million in city investment, he was concerned about the city losing $1.8 million in yearly parking revenue to 3CDC.

A city report contends that $4 million from the city leverages an additional $38 million in private investment and points out that the city ends up owning all $42 million in improvements. Those improvements, in turn, would serve as the catalyst for another $30 million in privately funded improvements to surrounding structures such as the Westin Hotel and Carew Tower.

"Downtown needs a big shot of vibrancy and energy," Mayor Charlie Luken said. "Downtown needs very much to figure out a way to position itself as one of the great urban cities of America."

Council members concerned about the length of the operating agreement managed to reduce the length of 3CDC's lease by a decade from the original 50-year term. During that time 3CDC will also control the square's programming, though the city will still issue permits.

Hey, General! Leave Them Kids Alone
If you don't want your children falling prey to the promises of military recruiters, thence to be shipped off to kill Iraqis or Afghans, you have to take steps to shield them from such unhealthy influences. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to release student records to military recruiters unless parents exercise their right to opt out.

The Leave My Child Alone campaign is making it easy for parents to keep their children's records private. Organized by Working Assets, Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Leave My Child Alone has a Web site that helps parents find their school superintendent's name and address and provides an "opt out" letter to print and send in the mail. To keep the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from pestering your impressionable adolescent, visit leavemychildalone.org.

If you live in Hamilton County, nearly one in 20 of your neighbors admits to having smoked marijuana in the past 30 days, according to a study just released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Using data from 1999-2001, the study showed 4.81 percent of people age 12 and older in Hamilton County admitted smoking pot in the previous month. Franklin County had the highest average in the state, with nearly 7 percent saying they'd smoked it in the previous month.

Alcohol consumption rates were much higher, with 51.4 percent in Hamilton County saying they'd had a drink in the previous 30 days and 22.4 percent saying they'd engaged in binge drinking.

The latter numbers might have something to do with a health survey that placed Cincinnati near the very bottom of a list of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The Centrum Healthiest Cities Report created a health report card based on health status, nutrition and exercise, mental health and life balance, using data from the American Medical Association, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources.

Cincinnati finished No. 48 out of the 50. The top spot went to San Jose, and New Orleans finished, um, dead last.



Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138)

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