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A site dedicated to Cincinnati's Over the Rhine neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mallory Blogs on Soapbox

I wanted to share this post from Soapbox Cincinnati by Mayor Mark Mallory. Again, I'm very pleased we have a Mayor who fully understands the importance of linking our city together with rail transit. He does a nice job summarizing why Cincinnati needs the streetcar system to happen. Way to go Mallory!

"SoapBlog 1 - Cincinnati Streetcar
Mayor Mark Mallory

I want to thank Soapbox for the opportunity to be the guest columnist this week after my State of the City Address last Wednesday. It will be a great opportunity to expand on some of the key priorities that I discussed, and hopefully, get some great feedback and spark further discussion.

Let's start with the topic that got some of the loudest applause at the State of the City and has also drawn some of the harshest criticism: The Cincinnati Streetcar.

In the address, I made it clear that the Streetcar is absolutely crucial to the future of Cincinnati. Over the last few years, we have moved forward on major projects all over the city.

* The Banks is rising out of ground.
* The construction of the new Riverfront Park is underway.
* We are building a new tallest skyscraper, the Great American Building at Queen City Square.
* Over-the-Rhine is undergoing a dramatic transformation with new businesses, hundreds of new condos, a beautiful new school, and expanded park.
* And in Uptown, we are seeing lots of new development around the University and hospitals.

The Streetcar is the project that links them all together and fuels the next round of development.

Now, some have suggested that we cannot do all of these projects at once. I reject that notion. Across the country, the cities that are seen as thriving, growing, and hot, are the cities that are doing big, bold, dynamic projects. We are no different in Cincinnati. In fact, we have a history of tackling big projects that have shaped our landscape and made Cincinnati such a vibrant city.

The other criticism that is leveled at the Streetcar plan is that it diverts millions of dollars from neighborhood projects. The truth is that much of the funding for the Streetcar will come from non-city sources, including state and federal funding and private investment. That funding is only available for a big transit project such as the Streetcar. It would not be available for other projects if we do not build the Streetcar. It would simply vanish.

However, rather than divert funds from other neighborhood projects, by generating as much as $1.4 billion in investment from the first phase alone, the Streetcar will generate increased tax revenue that will be available to spend on programs and projects that will benefit every neighborhood in the city. The increased revenue will help provide more police officers and fire fighters, more money for garbage collection, more money for street repair, more money for parks and recreation, and more money for everything that makes Cincinnati a special place to live.

As I said in the State of the City, the Streetcar will have a dramatic and lasting impact on the future of Cincinnati. It will grow our local economy by spurring economic development by creating new jobs. We have a history of big projects in Cincinnati, and we need to embrace that history and chart a course for a vibrant future for our city.

Now, let me know what you think. We are always looking for feedback. Hopefully, you are a Streetcar supporter, but if not, I am looking forward to making our case and winning your support.

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