Council Declares Emergency Over Columbia Parkway Landslides

Mar 20, 2019

Cincinnati Council approved a motion Wednesday declaring the retaining wall failures and landslides along Columbia Parkway a city emergency.  

The goal was to put council on record that the issues must be addressed.  

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman introduced the proposal last week.

"We have an infrastructure and a main artery of the city failing, and all of us know that it's failing, that's been documented," Smitherman said. "I think we have to make sure that we empower the administration to do whatever it takes to make sure that someone doesn't lose their life."

In recent months and weeks, Columbia Parkway has been restricted or completely closed because of landslides.

City administrators are developing both short and long-term fixes for the problems. But those come with a price tag of more than $10 million. The city recently awarded one contract for repairs totaling $912,000 to stabilize a portion of hillside between Eastern Avenue and Linwood Avenue and below Richwood Circle.

There was some concern the motion for an emergency declaration could allow Mayor John Cranley to spend or re-direct money without council's approval.  

"What concerns me is that the city solicitor has advised that under the City Charter this motion might be interpreted to grant authority to the mayor, whoever the mayor happens to be, to take action outside of the normal processes and without the normal involvement of City Council," said Council Member David Mann.

The motion was amended to say the mayor cannot use emergency powers to go around City Council's legislative process.