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Cranley Outlines What 'Public Needs To Know' Before County-Hilltop Deal Is Reached

banks music venue
Bill Rinehart
Site testing for the new music venue at The Banks.

Updated: Friday, 2:04 p.m.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has waded into the fray over the relocation of Hilltop Basic Resources so the county can construct a new music venue at The Banks. 

In a letter addressed to council, county officials and Hilltop, Cranley argued for a fair and transparent process. "I am glad to learn that Hilltop will be presenting to the public on September 3rd its desire to locate its operations in Queensgate," he wrote. "...I think we all agree that the public is entitled to know all aspects of any deal to move Hilltop prior to considering any legislation that would ask the planning commission, city council and the city manager to give title to city land to Hilltop and also to accept title to other Hilltop-owned land."

Relocating the Hilltop facility is essential to the updated plans released late last month for a music venue at The Banks. The music facility will take parking spaces now used by the Bengals on game days for tailgating. Hamilton County agreed to purchase the Hilltop land and turn that into parking for the Bengals. But that means the concrete plant must move and so far, negotiations between the company and the county continue

The mayor outlined at least 10 items he would like to see addressed, including Hilltop's designs for all proposed locations, an environmental report for the proposed site in Lower Price Hill and a "full, unredacted copy of the county-Hilltop purchase contract" including "all public expenses to be incurred in that transaction." 

"We are being told that this deal makes the county's stadium deal better," he wrote. "But the public won't know if that is true until it sees the amount of public money that will be spent to move Hilltop." 

On Friday, Commissioner Denise Driehaus responded in a statement of her own, stating that many of the issues raised by Cranley "have already been addressed."

"When the Hilltop relocation is complete, our community stands to gain more vibrancy on the riverfront with a new music venue, a renegotiated lease with the Bengals that will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, a new public space with bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and the city will control a parcel of land that is the last piece of the puzzle for the planned Price Landing Park," she wrote. "We also keep a company that employs 100 people in Cincinnati." 

Read Cranley's full letter below. 

8-22-19, Mayor Letter, Council Re Hilltop by WVXU News on Scribd

Jay Hanselman contributed to this report.

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.