Council Debating How To Fund Columbia Parkway Repairs

Apr 22, 2019

Cincinnati Council is expected to decide Wednesday how to fund the $17 million worth of repairs to prevent landslides along parts of Columbia Parkway.  What's not clear right now is where about $6 million of that plan will come from.  

City administrators want to delay building a new District 5 police headquarters and using that funding instead for Columbia Parkway.  

Council Member David Mann wants to preserve the police station money, and instead reduce the capital budget.

"And what that means is over the next six years, the projected capital budget would have to be reduced - according to what the administration has prepared - by $6.3 million," Mann said.

However, Council Member Greg Landsman said he doesn't favor tinkering with future capital budgets.

"I think taking more and more money out of our capital budget is a bad idea," said Landsman. "I think we're going to need those dollars for other emergency situations for critical services."

Both plans will be on Council's agenda Wednesday for consideration.  

City administrators want the Columbia Parkway funding decided soon so construction work can begin in June.

The administration plan would issue general obligation bonds to pay for about $11 million of the Columbia Parkway work, and that debt would be repaid using money from property taxes and lease payments from the Cincinnati Southern Railway.

Mann's proposal would issue $17 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid with property taxes and railway money.

The Columbia Parkway projects will take 18-24 months to complete and include a series of new retaining walls and "soil nailing" to secure the hillside.

Mann said taking money away from the District 5 project would mean those officers would remain in College Hill for the foreseeable future. They've been operating at that location since the Ludlow Avenue station was closed in 2017 because of health concerns.

The city conducted a public process that narrowed the sites for a new District 5 headquarters to Central Parkway in Clifton and Hamilton Avenue in College Hill.

Meanwhile, Council Members Mann and Amy Murray have asked city administrators to study the possibility of co-locating District 1 and District 5 on Central Parkway.

Murray and Mann said in a statement they believe the possibility of a co-location could save money in the long run.

FOP President Dan Hils is also supportive of studying the plan.  He said a combined District 1 and 5 could be a permanent fix that could save taxpayers money.

FC Cincinnati has the first option to purchase the land where District 1 is located because it's next door to where the team is building its new soccer stadium in the West End.