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Roller rink skates closer to reality at Over-the-Rhine's new rec center

Skaters Will Osborne, David Moody and Lucia Duque enjoy a Friday afternoon open skate session at the Over-the-Rhine Rec Center
Nick Swartsell
Skaters Will Osborne, David Moody and Lucia Duque enjoy a Friday afternoon open skate session at the Over-the-Rhine Rec Center

The design for a new recreation center in Over-the-Rhine may include a roller skating rink after all, thanks to a flood of public comment.

A Cincinnati Council Committee voted Monday to approve $1.68 million to continue designing a new rec center on the site of Findlay Playground to replace the current center on Republic Street.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission is still in early stages of the project. The initial plans didn't include a roller rink, like the one in the current rec center.

3CDC is managing the design for the overall Findlay Community Center Project, which includes four separate sites and streetscaping on Vine.

"There's a number of things we're trying to pack into a building," said 3CDC Executive Vice President Adam Gelter. "Multipurpose rooms, event halls, community spaces, child watch and potentially even childcare, arts and crafts, games ... esports [and] coding classes, but then obviously the recreation piece of this with the gym, walking track, fitness areas."

RELATED: Residents rally around Over-the-Rhine's roller rink as it faces an uncertain future

Gelter says they heard the community loud and clear: a skating rink is top priority.

"One of the things we're going to do with the funding ... is to really take a really hard look at how can we incorporate that roller skating rink into this project," he told Council. "We've got all different ideas of how that could happen and we want to really investigate that and figure out how we can do that, and what the implications cost."

Gabrielle Larkin, founder of the Cincinnati Skate Collective, is one of hundreds of residents pushing for a rink in the new design. She told Council this is an opportunity to go even bigger: full regulation size with more room for spectators.

"If this were to happen, organizations like the Cincinnati Roller Girls, Cincinnati Junior roller derby, speed skating teams, local artistic skating teams and more would be able to regularly utilize that space, generating additional revenue," Larkin said.

Gelter says part of the $1.68 million will go toward studying different designs for roller rinks; he says they want to bring the community several options to consider.

RELATED: Proposed Over-the-Rhine rec center could signal new direction for Recreation Commission

The funds come from the Downtown/OTR East TIF District fund, which holds property tax revenue from within the district to be spent on projects that benefit the public in the same area.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved the funding Monday; it will be up for a final vote of full Council on Wednesday.

Learn more about the project below:

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.