Council spends $800,000 to study streetcars
UPDATED, 3 p.m.
Jane Prendergast reports from City Hall:
Cincinnati will spend $800,000 to study the feasibility of extending a proposed streetcar line from downtown to Uptown.
City Council agreed to the appropriation this afternoon, but not until members debated the issue again for about 30 minutes. The money comes from City Manager Milton Dohoney and city officials sorting through accounts from other capital improvement projects, some dating back years, and finding leftover money.
Three council members opposed the expenditure: Roxanne Qualls, Chris Monzel and John Cranley.
Qualls voted against it because she said it spent money without council first having given the admninistration clear direction to make sure the streetcar line goes to Uptown. The city's initial proposal put a line from downtown through Over-the-Rhine, but kept the more northern piece to the area around the University of Cincinnati as a second phase. Several council members have said they do not believe a streetcar line would support itself if it doesn't connect the city's two main job centers, downtown and Uptown.
Chris Bortz, a main proponent of the streetcar plan, encouraged his colleagues to think of the study as just the next step in the process, not as a huge deal.
"We're not breaking ground," he said. "We're not buying (street) cars, we're not buying track."
Council voted after Vice Mayor David Crowley requested permission to speak and said: "I t hink everything's been said. Let's vote."
Cincinnati could take the next step on streetcars today if City Council approves spending $800,000 on a study of taking the proposed streetcar lines from downtown to Uptown, around the Clifton area hospitals and the University of Cincinnati.
City Manager Milton Dohoney gathered up the money from various pots of cash left unspent from other projects, some of which dated back years.
Council members also are scheduled to vote on whether to ask the Ohio General Assembly to put a gambling referendum on the November ballot. It would allow counties – like Hamilton County - that border states that allow new casinos to allow those neighboring Ohio counties to open casinos as well.
That’s aimed at letting local counties compete for dollars with Northern Kentucky, where several casinos have been proposed,
Council meets at 2 p.m. in City Hall, 801 Plum St.
See the full agenda here.