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Here's what Cincinnatians told officials should be included in climate change plans

A woman in a green dress with short black hair addresses a table of city officials.
Becca Costello
A resident speaks to council's Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee at a special meeting in Bond Hill on May 17, 2022.

Cincinnati officials are eager to hear from residents about the effects of climate change. Dozens of people attended a special meeting of Council's first committee focused on climate and the environment in Bond Hill Tuesday night.

Residents told council members existing parks and other green spaces need to be preserved and activated; a teacher said climate education in public schools is critical and needs to be a bigger part of the city's response.

Bond Hill resident Melissa Reese says it's good to see developers build housing, but they don't always listen to community input.

"When developers come in and just build stuff for residents, but no real green space, that's a problem," Reese said. "So it's one thing to talk about it, but what is the city doing to make sure they make this a priority?"

Council Member Meeka Owens, Chair of the Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee, highlighted the city's program to incentivize climate-focused construction with tax abatements. But, she said, there's more the city could do.

Margeax Roberts is a Bond Hill resident and involved in several community organizing efforts. She asked Council about litter control and says the meeting started a great conversation, but what happens next is more important.

"Just maintaining that flow and groove of that, continuously happening, so not just one start and then it sounds like it's good, and we're moving forward to it," Roberts said. "But really, how are we going to nail the head and make sure that it's continuing to happen?"

Predominantly Black neighborhoods are likely to experience more severe effects of climate change, according to a recent report from the city and University of Cincinnati.

"Some of those contributing factors are predictable: poverty, exposure to air pollution, exposure to urban heat islands," said Ollie Kroner, City Sustainability Manager.

Bond Hill, for example, is in the bottom 10 neighborhoods for tree canopy coverage, causing higher temperatures.

See a more detailed look at Bond Hill's vulnerability to climate change in this section of a recent report from the city and University of Cincinnati (story continues after):

City officials are trying to reach more Black residents to give input on the next Green Cincinnati Plan. A community survey has gotten around 400 responses so far, and only 1% identify as Black.

"And we know that we need to hear from people in the community hear from their lived experience and respect that his expertise when it comes to addressing climate change on the ground in Cincinnati.

Kroner says most of the responses have come in online, but officials are planning a lot of in-person engagement. In two weeks the city will officially launch the Green Cincinnati Plan update at a public meeting; Kroner says at least thirty public meetings are part of the community engagement plan.

Green Cincinnati Plan Kick Off Meeting

Tuesday, May 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Registration is encouraged and available online at this link.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.