Commissioners Approve Stimulus Plan That Includes Black Music Walk Of Fame & Moving CPD Gun Range
Hamilton County commissioners approved a stimulus spending plan Thursday that includes funding for a Black music walk of fame and for moving the Cincinnati Police Department gun range in Evendale.
The county will receive about $159 million total from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
"This is definitely a people's plan," said Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas. "[We're] trying to bring people where they can feel like they have a future, and there's some hope."
The spending plan is broadly split into two categories: one with immediate-need programs to be deployed this summer, and one with long-term projects that require more planning.
"People are still struggling," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "How do we provide mortgage assistance, rent assistance, small business assistance, non-profit assistance, to those who are still struggling out there, and also reserve enough of these dollars to make sure we can do some transformational things?"
See a full list of funding allocations at the end of this story.
Broadly, immediate programs will include:
- Revenue replacement for the county budget: $25 million
- Community outreach to vulnerable populations: $5 million
- Small business assistance (pending 3rd round results): $3 million
- Arts and cultural assistance: $2 million
- County staffing: $1.5 million
- Non-profit organization assistance: $6.5 million
- Mortgage and utility assistance: $5 million
- Premium pay for eligible county employees: $3 million
- Back office support for small businesses: $1.5 million
- EMA operations related to COVID-19: $1 million
Commission Vice President Alicia Reece noted rental assistance is not included in the ARPA spending plan because the county still has $20 million currently available for that purpose.
Commissioners also want to give $2 million to the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. County administration is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Treasury about whether that use is allowed.
Funding priorities that will be narrowed down over time include:
- Housing production and preservation: $30 million
- Broadband infrastructure development: $10 million
- Behavioral/mental health: $8 million
- Youth employment/workforce development: $15 million
- Sewer and stormwater: $9 million
- Community resiliency/health infrastructure: $6 million
- Housing protection/homeless prevention: $5 million
Black Music Walk of Fame
Reece suggested a walk of fame to honor African American musicians from Cincinnati and the project now has $9 million set aside in the ARPA spending plan.
"It's going to look like the Hollywood Walk of Fame; people are going to come from all over the world," Reece said. "For the first time we will have a music corridor on The Banks."
The walk of fame will be constructed across from Paul Brown Stadium, which hosts the annual Cincinnati Music Festival, and will sit next to the new Icon Music Center.
Construction is set to kick off at the end of the month with a ceremony honoring the first four inductees: Bootsy Collins, Dr. Charles Fold, the Isley Brothers and Otis Williams.
P&G is partnering with the county to help fund the project.
Moving The CPD Gun Range
The Cincinnati Police Department gun range in Evendale is one step closer to being relocated. The ARPA spending plan includes $5 million to move the gun range.
The county's plan is to share space with the county sheriff's facility in Colerain Township.
"We're certainly hopeful that the city of Cincinnati will also put some money toward this so we can get this done and our children don't have to hear these gunshots anymore," Reece said.
The county is also seeking federal funding for the project, with an appropriations request submitted to Sen. Sherrod Brown's office.
Residents of Evendale, Lincoln Heights and Woodlawn have long asked for the facility to be moved. Public hearings will be held once renderings for the new facility are complete.
Cincinnati Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney asked city administration for a report on how much it would cost to purchase land and build a new regional shooting range. That report is expected this fall.
In a report last September, then-interim City Manager Paula Boggs Muething expressed concern about using the Sheriff's Office facility.
"CPD learned that HCSO is also receiving complaints about the loud noise coming from their range," Boggs Muething wrote. "Adding CPD's use of the county range would only exacerbate the noise complaints from nearby residents."
Several 'Firsts' For Commissioners
Commissioners met in person Thursday for the first time since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the county administration building has been renamed the Todd B. Portune Center for County Government, after the late Commissoner Todd Portune, who died in 2020.
Commission President Summerow Dumas pointed out the occasion marks several other "firsts" for the board: the fist time Vice President Reece has met in person since being elected last year; the first time an African American President of the Board has conducted a meeting; the first time African Americans have held a majority of seats; and the first time an elected group of women has presided over an in-person meeting.
"The women are getting it done, along with a couple men," Summerow Dumas said, sparking laughter in the room. She praised County Administrator Jeff Aluotto for his work during the pandemic, especially in coordinating the detailed plans for the ARPA funds.
In-person meetings also have an American Sign Language interpreter for the first time.