Portions of iconic Mount Airy water towers could be removed; more news

Greater Cincinnati Water Works says that the iconic water towers in Mount Airy built in the 1920s need rehabilitation, and that fixing all of them would be prohibitively expensive.

click to enlarge The top of the Mount Airy water tower is the highest point in Cincinnati. - Greg Hume
Greg Hume
The top of the Mount Airy water tower is the highest point in Cincinnati.

Hello, Cincy! I hope you had a rad weekend. Let’s talk news for just a minute.

New mapping technology is coming for Cincinnati police — but it’s not clear when. Cincinnati officers searching for Kyle Plush, the 16-year-old who suffocated in his van in April after calling 911 twice, could have had his location more exactly pinpointed for them by technology already in use by the Cincinnati Fire Department. CPD passed on purchasing that mapping technology originally, but the city has decided the roughly $700,000 needed to buy it is a necessary purchase. However, the city is currently facing a very thin budget, and must make sure the mapping tech works with equipment the department already has. That means it could take months before the new and potentially lifesaving technology is online.

• Residents in Mount Airy are worried about the fate of one of Cincinnati’s more distinctive landmarks. Greater Cincinnati Water Works says the seven giant brick cylinders and six white towers that make up the fortress-like 8.5 million gallon water facility in the neighborhood badly need rehabilitation. Saving all of the towers could be very expensive, costing up to $30 million. That’s not really affordable, the organization says. Another option would be to demolish them and relocate the water facility elsewhere. But the water towers, built in the late 1920s, have become an icon for the neighborhood and, at more than 950 feet, represent the highest point in Cincinnati. So GCWW is recommending rehabbing four of the cylinders and four of the towers while tearing down three of the brick tanks. That could cost as little as $6.5 million. Community leaders, including former Cincinnati City Councilman Kevin Flynn, have reacted strongly to the prospect of demolitions, however.

"Mount Airy will not let this happen," he told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

• Today was the deadline for Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor to explain irregularities on his campaign finance disclosure forms to the Hamilton County Board of Elections, but he’s asked for and received an extension. Pastor told the BOE that he’s retained an accountant to navigate the amendments to his disclosures. Pastor’s forms are missing detailed expense reports that show what he was spending campaign cash on. There are also questions about a $54,000 loan Pastor gave to his campaign last September and a repayment he received from his campaign fund of roughly $4,500 four days later. The campaign finance form irregularities are part of a wider set of questions around Pastor’s campaign — including revelations he handed out checks from the foundation he directs founded by wealthy businessman Charlie Shor to local Cincinnati churches during the election. Pastor also received a $500,000 mortgage from Shor after the election. Pastor says he’s done nothing improper and that his amended filings will show that. It’s not uncommon for elected officials to file amended campaign finance forms, though Pastor’s are less complete than usual.

• Downtown Covington will soon have free Wi-Fi after a year-long effort by a local nonprofit and Cincinnati Bell. Renaissance Covington, a group that works to strengthen the city’s central business district, has worked with the telephone company to create a roughly 35-acre rectangular network providing free internet access at speeds up to one gigabit per second. The network will stretch one block east to west between Scott Boulevard and Madison Avenue and eight blocks north to south between Second and 10th streets. Cincinnati Bell and Renaissance Covington have yet to announce an official launch date, though a ribbon cutting and celebratory event is schedule for June 8.

• Just a quick one here because I'm hyped on it: Downtown is about to have a Frisch’s again, and it will be in Carew Tower. You can get your Big Boys and cola with vanilla or strawberry syrup starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday. It’ll be the first time in 14 years downtown has had one of the local restaurants, though there are 20 other locations around the region.

• Ohio’s medicinal marijuana program has already made state government $11 million in fees months before the program officially launches. Almost half of that came from application fees for dispensaries and grow sites, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Successful applicants will also have to pay millions in licensing fees to get going. The state says the money is necessary to help administer the program, which goes online in September.

• The Republican Party is pouring money into campaigns for U.S. House districts in Ohio that wouldn’t normally be tough contests, signaling a more uncertain political climate for the party than in the past. Congressional elections after presidential elections generally bring in a reversal of fortune for the party in the White House, and President Donald Trump has been especially polarizing. Republicans say despite this, they’re solid and have faith that politicians like U.S.Rep. Steve Chabot will retain their seats despite aggressive challengers. Chabot is fighting for another term against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval — a contest he is still favored to win, but in which the odds have been slowly tipping toward his Democrat challenger. The stakes are high in Ohio: Analysts believe it will be difficult for the GOP to retain control of the House if they lose any seats in the state.

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