Believe in Cincinnati, the grassroots group that played a big role advocating for the Cincinnati streetcar during and since the infamous City Hall pause, is expanding its focus beyond Over-the-Rhine.
More than 80 people showed up to a June 3 meeting in Clifton to discuss taking the streetcar beyond OTR.
“We started around the streetcar, but our vision is much broader than that,” said Believe in Cincinnati organizer Ryan Messer. He said people from 80 percent of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods are involved in the group. “The conversation we want to continue is this broader regional transit plan while ensuring we’re going forward with the Cincinnati streetcar.”
Believe in Cincinnati was instrumental in advocating for the streetcar last winter when recently elected Mayor John Cranley, who campaigned on opposition to the streetcar, put the project on hold. When the project came back online, Vice Mayor David Mann credited the group with making a big difference.
Now progress on the streetcar is humming along. Advocates see uptown, including Avondale, Corryville and Clifton, as a logical next step in the progression of the streetcar because it’s where a big number of the city’s jobs are located, including major hospitals and the University of Cincinnati, the city’s largest employers.
Councilman Kevin Flynn, who cast a deciding vote to restart the project last December, voiced cautious support for Believe in Cincinnati’s efforts.
“I see energy,” Flynn said, “but we have to harness that energy. I understand this is talking about how we get to phase two. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but the way to get to phase two is to make phase one a success.”
The group has been meeting with residents in communities outside the streetcar’s current path. Messer said he’s spoken with community council members and other community leaders in a number of neighborhoods, including Hyde Park, Avondale and even communities in Northern Kentucky.
All have expressed interest in eventually widening the streetcar’s reach.
Messer said his group believes the issue of transit doesn’t have to be politically divisive.
“I don’t know that transit is a partisan issue. We see transit as an investment to grow our city.”