Thursday, April 16, 2009

River West Working Group latest to oppose Queensgate Terminals

With word that Queensgate Terminals is again in court-ordered negotitations to bring a multi-modal transportation facility to the former Hilltop Basic Resources property in Lower Price Hill, more groups are voicing publicly their opposition.

The latest communication is from River West Working Group co-chair Tom Croft to Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls, in which he states that a barge terminal would be incredibly intrusive to the nearby residential areas and could hinder recovery efforts in the surrounding neighborhoods.

"We are starting to see real progress in the redevelopment of the communities along the western riverfront," he says, citing as examples:

  • The development of MetroWest light industrial park on the former Queen City Barrel site
  • A large investment in --> --> --> Mill Creek facilities
  • CPS's $17 million renovation of Oyler School
  • Reconstruction of the Eighth Street Viaduct
  • The designation of the Incline District in East Price Hill
  • The Incline Square development
  • Continuing development on the Cincinnati Christian University campus
  • Potential retail on "The Yards" site in Sedamsville
  • Harbor Lights, a proposed condominium development in Sedamsville
When negotiations over broke up nearly two years ago, City Council directed staff to investigate the use of the property as a public park or housing.

Since then, residents and stakeholders in Lower Price Hill, East Price Hill, West Price Hill, Sedamsville and Riverside have voiced their opposition to the project, which would offload bulk cargo onto rail and truck and would service an even larger logistics center in Jeffersonville, Ohio.

"It is clear that the proposed Queensgate operation will destroy a great deal of existing and potential taxable property value, and consign Lower Price Hill, East Price Hill, Sedamsville and Riverside to permanent blight," Croft says.

Big negative for entire West Side, city

"Lower Price Hill has one of the longest-established residential neighborhoods in Cincinnati," says Dr. Jack Degano, president of the Lower Price Hill Community Council, in his neighborhood's April newsletter. "No one has the right to tell us our homes and way of life must be sacrificed to a hazardous operation that would make our lives unbearable. Political arrogance has no place in our small but civilized, well-organized neighborhood."

Sedamsville Civic Association president Susan Feldman agrees that the people most affected by the City's decision are being bypassed.

"Our neighborhood feels strongly that the City should not be making land use decisions without the approval of those people most affected," she says in an April 3 letter to council panning the plan. "We also believe the City should not allow threats of lawsuits to motivate poor decision making. This will only invite more of these tactics used by special interests."

But to Croft, the barge terminal would damage more than the surrounding neighborhoods -- it would hurt the entire City.

"[This site] is located at key gateways to and from West Side neighborhoods," he says. "In accord with the Cincinnati Scenic View Study adopted by City Council last summer, it must be protected because of its position in the line of sight from Mt. Echo and the City."

Croft contends that the area must be kept available for the Ohio River Trail, one of 45 projects approved by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) for federal economic stimulus funding.

"[The Trail] is projected by OKI to be extended westward along the Ohio River from downtown along the western Hamilton County riverfront," he says. "It provides an opportunity to link the City together with a system of greenways and bikeways that use our riverfront to maximum advantage."

How will Comprehensive Plan define western riverfront?

Croft believes that the City's western riverfront will be a significant part of the City's upcoming Comprehensive Plan, and that one only needs to see the eastern riverfront to see what's possible.

And he rejects the "working riverfront" label that's been given to the property.

"When looking at Riverside Drive, the $45 million Theodore Berry Park is witness that residential stability and growth is the key to the City's long-term viability," Croft says. "On the West Side, the former Hilltop site is strategic, not only to our neighborhoods, but to the whole City. Residential growth is the key to the City's long-term viability, and businesses that encourage that growth are what we need, not activity that will make people flee."

Degano agrees.

"The East End has come back to life," he says. "There is no factual argument against similar development happening on the west side of downtown that has an even better view of the Kentucky hills, and of the city skyline. Lower Price Hill is no more dangerously within the flood plain than are the new homes in the East End. Construction plans for the new Waldvogel Viaduct envision expanded greenspace for Lower Price Hill, and public access to the riverfront."

Degano refers to past reports from city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. in which he advocated rezoning the 30 acres to RF-C Riverfront Commercial and jumpstarting the negotiation process, arguing that development of the site for public or residential use wass problematic due to the upcoming Waldvogel Viaduct replacement, its multiple active rail lines, its propensity to flood, and its surrounding light and heavy industrial uses.

An updated report from Dohoney is due before council by April 29.

Previous reading on BC:
Professor calls newest Queensgate Terminals report 'flawed' (3/18/09)
River West Working Group: Queensgate Terminals report 'unacceptable' (4/7/08)
Dohoney reports on Queensgate site options (12/26/07)
No contact between City, Queensgate since June (12/19/07)
Bortz offers newest motion to stop Queensgate Terminals (8/9/07)


Randy Simes said...

I have a couple problems here. People keep citing that Queensgate Terminals will hurt the surround area's property values, but have provided no real evidence as to why that is the case. The same thing goes for most of the arguments against this terminal project. It's not that I'm for or against the project, I would just appreciate seeing the substantive sides of the argument from both parties.

The second issue I have is comparing the western riverfront to the eastern riverfront. There is a major factual difference between the two and it has to do with surrounding demographics and school choices. Those on the eastern riverfront trump those on the western. Growth within the city is seen on the east side, whereas the west side is seeing decline.

Furthermore, many of the new units built along the eastern riverfront have been high-end units...something I'm not sure this housing market can sustain anytime soon. In the end it just seems to be a bit unrealistic to assume that the same results can be achieved on the western riverfront if you add in the items they did on the eastern riverfront like parks and what not. That's not to say we should ignore or not pay any attention to the western riverfront, I just think a different approach should be taken because the two scenarios have major differences between them.

Anonymous said...

I see many flaws in how this is being discussed.

1) Lower Price Hill residents decided to live in an industrial community, unless they are about 100+ years old. The fact that Queen City Barrel burned down and an industrial redevelopment is proposed makes me wonder if it is a residential or industrial community to begin with.

2) I find it funny that the projects pointed to as development efforts, actually point to why this facility is not a negative. MSD sewage plant is being redone because of mandate. Oyler School gets redone as a part of the billion dollar building plan by CPS. 8th Street viaduct reconstruction was needed because of the poor condition of the bridge. Metro West is potential publicly subsidized development that without the subsidy has no viability. And only happens with millions in Brownfield money. The Yards is as dead as it gets in terms of a retail project, call the developer there is no Yards project. That leaves City Lights, still no shovel in ground. Many owners of Queens Tower complaining about the quality of the work and vendors going unpaid. The proposed residential development in Sedamsville has come at the expense of significant historical homes and a church and yet still no plans presented to the community of Sedamsville. Actually aside from the newly built Kroger, which also received subsidy, where is the private development efforts on the Westside? This development would pay rent or something to the city creating revenues to be invested into the city.

3) Has the existing port facility on the eastside adjacent to Ted Berry Park and across from Towne Properties new condos negatively impacted the eastside? In fact this same port is requesting state funds to increase its capacity and allow for a bigger variety of freight to be moved through it. Eden Park looks directly down onto this port. Literally the new development sits right across the street from the facility. Kevin I suggest you go look at this facility. Go on Riverside drive and pull into the driveway of the port. Go to Eden Park and look down on it.

4) Has anyone seen the plans by the developer of this Port facility? Kevin did you ask to see the plans before you posted this?

5) Currently Hilltop Resources operates a concrete crushing facility on this site. If access to the site was better Hilltop would have already built a permanent concrete processing facility here and no neighborhood group could have stopped it.

6) Westside needs ways to attract investment, this site has very little to do with future Westside stability or property taxes. The crime and blight in the vast majority of East Price Hill is what will determine the direction of Price Hill. East Price Hill like most Westside neighborhoods needs investment and ways to attract developers to give it a shot. And of course the first developers in with anything of scale will need subsidy to do so, where will the money come from?

Kevin, I encourage you seek out the other side of this story, truly give this a balanced look and then you can make a responsible post on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Who is the River West Working Group? I have lived in Price Hill for 10+ years and never heard of this group. Is it another batch of disgruntled community council cast-offs driving there own small agenda?

Quim said...

"Has anyone seen the plans by the developer of this Port facility?"
That was my question, too.

Kevin LeMaster said...

I'll try to tackle some of these....

1) Please keep in mind that the arguments presented are not mine, but those of others.

2) I have not seen the plans, and I don't know where I can see them. I'm not even sure they have been made public.

3) The River West Working Group is not the most transparent of organizations, but its leader is Tom Croft, who is also a member of the East Price Hill Improvement Association board. The group represents the communities of EPH, Sedamsville, Riverside, and Sayler Park on riverfront development issues. I know that they have been heavily involved with the Waldvogel Viaduct design and the Queensgate Terminals issue.

4) There has been one study done of which I'm aware, as I reported several weeks ago. I would love to see more concrete numbers as well as to the potential impacts.

5) I realize that the story has so far been incomplete, and I'm working on gathering information from those who support the project.

6) Anonymous, I am aware of the facility on the eastern riverfront. In fact, David Pepper has pointed to it as an example of how residential and barge facilities can co-exist.

7) Anonymous, true that this has all come up because of a "takings" issue and a court case. But we are where we are now, and what could have happened without the loss of access to the Hilltop property is no longer that important.

8) Where the money will come from for residential development is kind of beside the point, and is really something that would have to be tackled in the future. I think that even the opposition realizes that the barge terminal will bring much-needed tax revenue for the City. However, they consider it a poor land use, and they won't be swayed to accept just any development because the City needs money.

Like I said, I'm trying to get better information from top sources and will share them when that time comes.

Randy Simes said...

Renderings of the proposed facility can be found here:,16967.msg374846.html#msg374846

These were a part of a somewhat recent Cincinnati Business Courier article.

Anonymous said...

hi kevin just curious to know if the epa is monitoring the air along river road (sedamsville) from the concrete co. i have to dust everyday, and when i sweep its mostly sand. (hum) thank you. also what ingredients are in ground up concrete?

Jim McNulty said...

Anyone interested in this should go to Mt. Echo park and look down at the site. It is an industrial lot, next to a viaduct and a bunch of rail lines. It looks like a natural fit. If I lived there, I would enjoy looking down and seeing clean commercial activity on the river. There is more to life than condos, and that would be an odd location for a park.

I am new to this issue, but can't really see a problem with the transfer facility. We shouldn't try to be the East side, we should aim higher.

Paul Wilham said...

I think it is 'shortsighted' to think the ONLY thing you can do with that area is build a terminal. Indianapolis took a formerly industrial area and built White River State Park which has several museums and green spaces. All pretty much done with Federal and state money. It attracts people from a 5 state area and is an asset to the city's convention business. Louisvile has a park development along the Ohio river that is a major toursist attraction. Property values in Price hill are improving and there is a lot of new restoration going on. That effort would be helped by a park and hindered by an industrial use.

Anonymous said...

All do respect to Paul Wilham, but what data are you using to claim property values are improving in Price Hill? Did you happen to see the Cincinnati Enquirer article three weeks ago? The average home sale value in 2008 for Price Hill was $20,000. That was a 68% decline since 2004. Also the County Auditor reassessed values in Hamilton County last year and the average decline in Price Hill was 6-10% on property values by County standards.

Louisville's riverfront is very industrial except for a stretch right downtown. The City of Cincinnati's downtown riverfront was industrial up until Yeatman's Cove and Sawyer Point. So really Louisville is just years behind Cincy. Indianapolis is not even close in comparison to Cincinnati. The Ohio River is a much bigger river with much more economic activity than the White River. Let's compare apples to apples.

Kevin LeMaster said...

"hi kevin just curious to know if the epa is monitoring the air along river road (sedamsville) from the concrete co. i have to dust everyday, and when i sweep its mostly sand. (hum) thank you. also what ingredients are in ground up concrete?"The EPA has a not-so-user-friendly searchable database of monitoring stations. I wish you luck: for ground up concrete, it depends on the mix but it's basically sand/aggregate (such as gravel), cement and water. Cement contains limestone, calcium, silicon, iron, aluminum, and gypsum. Trace amounts of other things like clay and ash are sometimes used.

Anonymous said...

Where is all this opposition to building a terminal in an already industial area coming from? CSX Transportation and Central RR of Indiana would never let a park or bike trail be built next to their tracks. Guess that site will sit vacant for a long time to come.

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