Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Queensgate Terminals proposal left off of council agenda

On October 6, Cincinnati City Council's Economic Development Committee voted down a report advocating for the construction of a $26 million barge-to-rail operation to 31 acres along the Lower Price Hill riverfront, keeping the matter from being placed on the full council agenda.

More than a half dozen speakers from Lower Price Hill and surrounding neighborhoods spoke out against the proposal by Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc. and Rail America to build Queensgate Terminals, citing concerns about light, noise and pollution for current residents, and its possible effects on more than $100 million in proposed development.

Instead, speakers continued to advocate for the land to be used for residential or recreational uses that could benefit the wider community and spur more rapid redevelopment.

In the report, City manager Milton Dohoney Jr. reiterated his argument from December 2007 that the site is ill-suited for residential or recreational use, saying that, being zoned RF-C Riverfront Commercial and RF-M Riverfront Manufacturing and surrounded by industrial uses, rezoning would result in a "significant change in land use".

The City's Department of Community Development has been trying to bring a container-to-barge port to the site for nearly ten years.

"The future land use of the property will depend on accessibility," he said. "It is unlikely that the railroads will consent to a general public track crossing for park and recreation uses. There is an increased risk of serious accidents with park and recreational uses that generate significant automotive and pedestrian traffic adjacent to four active railroad lines."

But to the Lower Price Hill Community Council (LPHCC), reconstruction of the Waldvogel Viaduct and relocation of the existing railroad lines farther south will eat away at the existing 31-acre riverfront, making the site unsuitable for "an international barge port to China".

"The City of Cincinnati contradicts its own existing plan for Lower Price Hill's riverfront if it imposes a barge port here," said the LPHCC in a media release. "Plans are approved and ready to go for the replacement of the aging Waldvogel Viaduct in Lower Price Hill. The new viaduct will be constructed 50 feet to the south of the existing structure. To accommodate that move, existing railroad tracks will likewise be moved a further 50 feet south on Lower Price Hill's riverfront. The city's viaduct plan includes a public park and bike trails for the reduced south side of the riverfront."

Is it neighborhood-friendly?

Dohoney called the project "neighborhood-friendly", noting its 60-foot buffer, hike-bike trail, solar panels, wind turbines, and green roofs.

He also pointed out that the German-made electric cranes will keep noise and emissions low, and that containers will not be allowed to be stored on site.

In his opinion, that would make Queensgate Terminals, which would move containers of grain (specifically soybeans) from barge to Rail – then to a Bluegrass Farms mutli-modal facility in – a much better neighbor than the current one.

"For the last 20 years, the site has been a concrete recycling facility that busted up concrete in between two rollers, and sounded like dynamite going off," Dohoney said. "It also blew dust all over the neighborhood."

While not disagreeing with that assessment, the LPHCC said that the City still refuses to hear its concerns.

"Neither the city manager, nor the mayor of Cincinnati has shown the courtesy to respond to letters from the Lower Price Hill Community Council, or to our June 10, 2009, 22-page, well-documented request for a comprehensive risk assessment of the safety and health hazards posed by a barge port near homes and schools," the LPHCC said.

Dohoney touts benefits

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has called himself an "enthusiastic supporter" of the proposal, part the Ohio Valley Trade Corridor, a network of multi-modal centers to be located throughout the state.

In addition to its importance to the Ohio, Dohoney said that Queensgate Terminals and the Bluegrass Farms multi-modal project are an integral part of a massive network that would link to existing ports in New Orleans, Houston and Mobile and to two new container-to-barge terminals – the State of Lousiana's MegaPort and Lykes Brothers' Sea Point.

"Analysis indicates that the total economic impact, a combination of direct, indirect and induced effects, to the Greater Cincinnati area of the first five years of operation includes the creation of $105 million in total economic activity, nearly $25 million in total household earnings, an estimated total of 140 new jobs, and about a total $7 million in tariff revenues for the City," he said.

But of more pressing importance to the City, Dohoney maintained that there could be liability issues if it fails to negotiate the lease agreement with Queensgate Terminals, a requirement of the settlement of a 2007 court case over property takings for the Waldvogel Viaduct project.

"If the City does not settle the lawsuit with Queensgate, the City faces potential damages of approximately one million dollars plus any legal fees generated by the court case," he said.

The LPHCC has promised to continue fighting Queensgate Terminals, much as it has fought a scrap metals operation proposed for the north end of the neighborhood.

"The Lower Price Hill Community Council will vigorously protest the City of Cincinnati's lack of coherent management, senseless planning, and disregard for the residents and existing businesses and schools of Lower Price Hill," the LPHCC said.

Previous reading on BC:
Lower Price Hill: City solicitor must recuse himself, City must assess Queensgate Terminals' impacts (6/22/09)
Martin says Queensgate Terminals will be 'something that Cincinnati people are proud of' (5/4/09)
River West Working Group latest to oppose Queensgate Terminals (4/16/09)
Professor calls newest Queensgate Terminals report 'flawed' (3/18/09)
River West Working Group: Queensgate Terminals report 'unacceptable' (4/7/08)


Anonymous said...

Why is it that the only time I every see or hear anything from the Lower Price Hill Community Council is when they are opposing new business on the esat side. Clearly this is a group misguided by the allure of a gentrified, redeveloped neighborhood and under the direction of a few dillusional leaders. The reality is that LPH and the surrounding area needs jobs and investment. If LPHCC had any common sense they would lobby the city/county to establish a tax finance district wherby the tax revenue generated by the terminal would be forced to be reinvested in LPH and the surrounding area. The area is never going to be Hyde Park; deal with it. Utilize what you have, which is prime industrial land, and use that revenue to clean up your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

LPH is correct in fighting this matter. They have the highest rate of asthma in the city, and the new development that is occuring will be killed by this proposal. The City managers report was a bunch of talking points generated by Queensgate terminals LLC in 2007. No one in the city wants to live next to a rail yard if they do not have to. The riverfront need not be a waste land. To learn more, click to www.westsidesummit.com

tmongan said...

Interesting arguments...I hope Cincinnati continues to grow but in a healthy productive way.

Anonymous said...

All due to respect to the westside, it was, has been, and always should be an industrial area. Cincinnati is an industrial town whose economic vitality is largely tied to the ability of industrial users to use the Ohio River as a point of entry for shipping. Would we all like to see parks, condos, and retail along the river? Certainly. Does that make any fiscal sense? Certainly not. Make them build the terminal in a way that truly is a legacy development.

Anonymous said...

Good for Lower Price Hill. I hope they and the surrounding communities stay the course and fight this outside venture trying to destroy neighborhoods for their own profit. Also the outside venture Bluegrass Farms cares so much about our city they have a weak lawsuit against the city at this time. So you can see what a good partner they would be. As far as tax revenue that is a joke. The little if any revenue generated by tariffs will be a drop in the bucket to the lost revenue and jobs if this misguide project ever happened. It is an environmental hazard that will destroy the lives of the school children of Olyer School.

Finally council is listening to the many community groups who oppose the location of this terminal. It is good to see the opposition to the location of this project growing into the thousands and getting bigger every day.

Paul Wilham said...

Mill Creek Valley was farm land until the 1880's. This development "may' create 140 jobs? How many jobs would be created by the ongoing restoration of homes in Price Hill and the constuction of market rate infill homes in Price Hill over the next ten years, Hundreds, Thousands? Those are high paying jobs. How about the new business that will be created by a revitilized and restored west side?

People forget that Mt Adams wasn't always "trendy" nor was Colunbia Tusculum.

I am not surprised this issue isn't going before the full council. They are afraid to take a stand because they want to keep their cushy 70K a year PART TIME jobs as city councilmen. As soon as this election is over they will approve it.

Kevin, I would love to see you poll everyone running for council on this issue and see If ANY of the current council would respond.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say that this seems like a logical place for such type of development. Like the one poster stated, Cincinnati is an industrial town like it or not. We need to preserve our industrial areas, as that is the bread and butter of our city's economic well-being. The terminal can be a great development, and the city should settle for nothing less that cutting edge/state-of-the-art. Paul, I appreciate your optimism as I am a westsider but the restoration of homes in LPH and the vicinity will be slow at best over the next 10 years. That aside, good planning and design can provide that LPH, industrial projects, and specifically the terminal can co-exist. LPH would be wise to develop a neighborhood plan that council can adopt. They see, to sqwak about everything proposed in their area, but do nothing to facilitate new ideas.

Anonymous said...

We're talking about 20-30 jobs here, created by a $21 million dollar grant of your money from the state of Ohio. Bluegrass Terminals received a 7 million dollar grant for the northern terminal with a promise of 5 jobs.

The 100 million in current development is light industrial, office, and residential. There is no reason to jeapordize positve development with a rail yard. There has always been industry on the river, but there is also room for other uses as well. The right location for this terminal is simply not next to a neighboorhood and a school.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who say Lower Price Hill should be happy and take what they can get with this project think again. We are not the unorganized LPH you think we are. Quite the opposite we have a solid front to fight this awful project for our community. Oyler and the Public Schools are against this project. No longer are we going to allow wealthy outside interests pollute and kill our children.

We have a large Hispanic population who are organized in LPH. We are against this project on many levels. Because we are lower income many feel they can impose on our neighborhood. This will not stand. This is our neighborhood. Many civil rights groups have been notified and are waiting to file lawsuits if Blue Grass Farms pursue this location. This will be a long and costly experience for them. They think they can buy our integrity with our few tax dollars. We will not sell the health and well being of our children and our neighborhood for blood money.

Travis Estell said...

Not only would this site be terrible for residential, people seem to be forgetting that there is absolutely no demand for new residential right now and there probably won't be for a long time. Why say no to a developer who wants to take this undesirable land and invest his money there NOW, rather than hoping for residential to happen in a few decades?

Paul Wilham said...

Travis, Price Hill real estate is humming right along.

There is a large number of pending sales right now. Price Hill Will is doing good work, there are several new infill houses built on State. I know of a few people who were working in Mt Adams that are now working in Price Hill.

I know I've had a number of inquiries from people who recently bought and are restoring homes about writing restoration plans and bid specs.

This type of facility would represent a setback to the momentum already going in Price Hill. It is time for Cincinnati to stop 'settling' for second rate projects and shoot a little higher. Indianapolis and Louisville have both developed riverfront parks which have become tourist destinations for example. The type of thing that might spur more development up the Hill?

Anonymous said...

Here's the point everyone seems to overlook. I am on a community board on the east side. It is hard enough to get one board to agree on one issue. If a proposed development was good for our community we would support it in a heartbeat. What you have is 5 community councils and various other groups all coming out against this development. That is unheard of to get that many groups to agree.

We have learned in our community is someone is selling you a project and using terms like job creation, environmental friendly, a green project, stimulus dollars you should proceed with caution. Someone is trying to sell you a bill of goods for their own interest.

The more I read and analysis this project I have to agree wholehearted with the community councils. NOT IN MY BACKYARD! This is a bad project and will have a long term negative effect with no upside.

Anonymous said...

Let's stop this nonsense about that land there becoming a park or residental. CSX Transportaion and Central RR, the operators of those rail lines will NEVER let that happen. Let's just leave it the way it is right now.

Travis Estell said...

I appreciate the work Price Hill Will is doing and would love to see more positive residential development in that community, and on the west side in general. I just believe that it would be very difficult to convert this site to residential usage or a park due to the active rail lines separating it from the rest of the community. I also think that we can't forget our industrial past, and we should realize that all of our riverfront can't be residential.

Honest question: Is there another location on the Ohio River in Cincinnati that would be better suited for this type of development (a multimodal terinal)?

Anonymous said...


Gilday park is 2 miles west of this site, and has the same grade level access across the same tracks. This has been the case for 50 years. The city has a right of way easment over the tracks at State Ave. Access is not an issue.

As for other locations, Cincinnati Bulk terminals is negogtiating with Queensgate now. Put this in a location that is already set up as a terminal. The cranes are even in place.

Bob said...


"I just believe that it would be very difficult to convert this site to residential usage or a park due to the active rail lines separating it from the rest of the community."

Using that logic, I guess we should just pretty much write off the entire west side then, since it is separated from downtown by an extreme width of rail lines.

That's pretty much what downtowners and east-siders probably want anyway, right?

UCstudent said...

"Mill Creek Valley was farm land until the 1880's. "

Yea maybe up in Cumminsville, but the mill creek bottoms were a disease infested flood plain that had standing pools of water for much of the year. I'd much rather live in a condo overlooking a bustling port than a concrete recycling facility. I live in a blighted industrial area, there is nothing I'd like to see more than industry return to my neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Travis: story in the Enquirer:

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