EDITOR’S NOTE: In reaction to this editorial, City Council voted on Tuesday, April 24 to have a public hearing on this proposal during the City Council meeting of May 9.

It’s past time City Hall start a dialogue with those most affected

by David Miller, Publisher

Come take a walk with me while I tell you a story

It’s just my opinion, but I believe City Hall should start talking to people about this before it gets so far along people will need 1.6 million dollars worth of arguments against it. Once City Hall gets the funding for what they will describe as “Free Money” it will be extremely hard to turn council members to “No” votes. Residents should be given a fighting chance.

As the equivalent of a one-lane asphalt road that will cozy within feet of the front doors of homes and businesses in the West Loveland Historic District and along Loveland Madeira Road, and City Hall moves closer to securing funding, property, and homeowners have yet been asked their opinion. Almost all do not yet know the proposal has already been partially funded by Hamilton County and the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana Council of Governments has committed their resources to finding 80 percent of the $1,623,000 and growing price tag for construction.

This is a view of the North side of West Loveland Avenue where construction of a 12′ wide swath of asphalt would require the removal of the front porch of this business. The entry to the basement of this business is through the porch floor.

Some front porches would have to be removed to accommodate the 12’ wide asphalt bicycle road. The road will be reduced to 10’ wide only where construction proves difficult.

As the City Hall proposal gets yet more expensive and closer to fruition there is still no initiative from the Council table to ask the thoughts and suggestions of citizens, home-owners, affected businesses, property owners, or pertinent City Commissions and Committees.

As the City Hall proposal gets yet more expensive and closer to fruition there is still no initiative from the Council table to ask the thoughts and suggestions of citizens, home-owners, affected businesses, property owners, or pertinent City Commissions and Committees.

One property and business owner along the proposed route wrote to City Hall. Paul Elliott said, “I am under the impression that such a proposal ‘has legs’, and city officials are even seeking funding sources. First, as a taxpaying resident and longtime business/property owner on West Loveland Avenue, I am disappointed that no city official has approached either the public in general nor us property owners who may be affected by such a bike corridor.”  

The project, called the Loveland Connector Trail, will be approximately 1.4 miles long and will begin at the Deer Ridge II Apartments being built next to New Hope Baptist Church. It will continue along Loveland Madeira Road to Main Street, to the southern part of Wall Street, then to West Loveland Avenue, crossing over the Little Miami River at the Col. Paxton Bridge ending in Historic Downtown. 

“I am disappointed that no city official has approached either the public in general nor us property owners who may be affected by such a bike corridor.”  – Resident and affected business owner, Paul Elliott.

The goal and impetus for the project are to reduce congested parking in the Downtown Historic District by encouraging Loveland Bike Trail users to park somewhere along the new bike road and ride their bikes into Historic Downtown.

City Manager, Dave Kennedy announced in February that he was confident he will find 80% of the $1,623,000 cost from the Federal Government. He has since announced changes that will raise the price tag an undetermined amount.

A view of an automobile dealership that has softened their business frontage. Something will have to give way for the proposed 12′ asphalt bike road.

The study does not contain any data on the potential number of users, nor potential customers to Loveland Madeira Road businesses. The study also does not address any repercussions on the residential neighborhood of Main Street or the Business/Residential neighborhood on West Loveland Avenue. For instance, it does not address future maintenance or whether property owners will be responsible for snow and ice removal on a path that replaces their current sidewalks. It’s right to ask when residents are left without sidewalks, “When will the bike road be cleared of snow? Who will do it, with what type of equipment, and when will it happen?”

A close look at what is described as a “Detailed Cost Estimate” appears to be grossly underestimated in terms of things that are absent consideration such as acquiring private property, relocating business signs, and replacing private parking,

Light colored 4′ tree-shaded concrete sidewalks where children can walk without shoes, and people walk their dogs will be replaced with a 12’ barren swath of black, heat-absorbing asphalt the width of a one-lane road just feet from homes.

Light colored 4′ tree-shaded concrete sidewalks where children can walk without shoes, and people walk their dogs will be replaced with a 12’ barren swath of black, heat-absorbing asphalt the width of a one-lane road just feet from homes where owners will pay higher air-conditioning costs. 

There has been no recommendation to forward the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Tree and Environment Committee, Beautification Committee, or Safety Service & Street Improvement Committee for review. No public hearings are scheduled. None have been suggested. 

Phelps and City Manager Dave Kennedy have attended workshop/training on a Federal grant program along with a meeting with OKI officials to discuss the city’s project in more detail. While the updated cost estimate is being secured, the grant application is being reviewed and various needed documents are prepared. They plan to ask City Council in May to move forward seeking funding.

Phelps said that people who are using the bike trail are using too many of the downtown parking spots and using them for too long a period of time. “This is going to give them another place to get on the trail, better parking, easier on and off.” He believes the bike road will bring in new customers to Loveland Madeira Road businesses when they park nearby but head into Historic Downtown. The study does not contain any data on the potential number of users, nor potential customers to Loveland Madeira Road businesses. The study also does not address any potential negative repercussions on the residential neighborhood of Main Street or the Business/Residential neighborhood on West Loveland Avenue.

Some “Progressives” may love the idea, some may like it but believe it ill-considered given the impact on individuals who live or have invested in the impacted area. Some money conservatives may believe it an economic boon to both the Historic District and Loveland Madeira Road. Some money crunchers may ask, where is the cost-benefit analysis and just how many people will actually use it and spend money along Loveland Madeira Road. Some may ask if all costs factors have been included in the early estimate and if the price tag goes north after a grant is awarded – who will get stuck.

Elliott said his email to City Hall, that included the City Manager, Mayor and Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Recreation Commission, and the Streets and Public Safety Committee was his attempt to open a dialogue between the decision makers, and those “of us” who will be financially and personally affected.

Resident and business owner Paul Elliott bought this business building on West Loveland Avenue in 1997. He has asked City Hall how the proposed connector path will affect the front yard of his property.
This is a view of business and residential properties on the South side of West Loveland Avenue. Although the proposal isn’t clear, presumably this 4′ concrete sidewalk will be replaced by a 12′ wide swath of asphalt, equivalent to a one-lane road. These street trees will with be cut down or have their roots severely damaged by the excavation. It is not clear whether the grassy strip will remain.
 
Another view of the beauty salon on the North side of West Loveland Avenue where construction of a 12′ wide swath of asphalt would require the removal of the front porch of this business. The entry to the basement of this business is through the porch floor.
If the 12′ wide bike road wraps around this building this sign and landscaping will have to go. The sign may need to be replaced with two signs to satisfy the business owner, yet there is no apparent budget item for moving or replacing business signs in the proposal.
Depending whether the 12′ bike road goes down this side of Main Street, these street trees may be removed. These utility poles if moved to the left would might result in fatal topping of the trees. If the poles remain in place it puts the asphalt even closer to the house. If the road goes on top of the tree roots the trees will shortly die. The owners will pay higher air-conditioning cost without their shade trees. If the trees die because of the location of the bike road, the home owner will then be required to pay to have the tree removed. Will the homeowner’s brick wall survive the project?
This is another problem area on Main Street where homeowners will lose a good portion of their already small front yard.
The 12′ bike road could cut across the front yard of this Main Street home taking out a tree and landscaping.
Another front porch, this one on Main Street may stand in the way of the 12′ wide asphalt bike road or end up only inches away.
If the 12′ wide asphalt bike road goes down this side of Main Street it will leave the Artists Studios on Main without street trees and much needed parking.
The landscaping, street trees, utility polls, and sign at this business on Loveland Madeira Road appear to be in the path of the 12′ wide bike road.
This landscaping area that softens the appearance of this automobile dealership on Loveland Madeira Road will be replaced with a 12″ asphalt bike road.
This is more of the landscaping along Loveland Madeira Road that will be removed (or most of the parking lot) to make room for a 12′ asphalt bike road.
 
This is the only green space at the Chase Bank on Loveland Madeira Road. There will be a 12′ asphalt bike road running down the middle of it.
If a proposed 12′ wide asphalt bike road goes past Shoppers Haven shopping center these street trees may be removed, utility lines moved, parking spaces removed, or all three. Private property may have to be acquired through “willing seller – willing buyer” agreements or “taking” by eminent domain and associated legal costs. In the end, these parking spaces used by local businesses and the schools may be eliminated for the prospect of freeing up parking spaces a mile away in Historic Downtown.
There does not appear to be a budget item for moving this business sign out of the path of the proposed 12′ wide asphalt bike road, nor is there any discussion of whether the owner and the businesses would want their sign moved further away from the visibility of automobiles on Loveland Madeira Road.
If a proposed 12′ wide asphalt bike road goes past Shoppers Haven shopping center these street trees may be removed, utility lines moved, parking spaces removed, or all three. Private property may have to be acquired through “willing seller – willing buyer” agreements or “taking” by eminent domain and associated legal costs. In the end, these parking spaces used by local businesses and the schools may be eliminated for the prospect of freeing up parking spaces one mile away in Historic Downtown.
Will the landscaping and street buffer, the business sign and the parking at the 910 Building be sacrificed to free up an un-estimated number of parking spaces for the businesses one mile away in Historic Downtown?
Another Loveland Madeira Road business sign in the way of a proposed 12′ asphalt bike road. Is this sign still going to have the same visibility if it is relocated? Is there enough room to just push it closer to the building or will it need to be re-engineered, and reconstructed smaller?
This is the hillside in front of New Hope Baptist Church where City Hall wants to build a 12′ wide asphalt bike road. Its there money in the estimate of cost to build a retaining wall or will the hill just get steeper?
This is Loveland Madeira Road looking North from New Hope Baptist Church toward Kroger. The guard rail protects motorists from a steep immediate drop into a very deep ravine. The 350′ long stretch quickly drops 50′ below the grade of the road. It is not clear if the budget estimate has taken into consideration the expense of building a 12′ wide bike road at the edge of this ravine.

You can DOWNLOAD the full report HERE: Loveland Collector Trail Feasibility Study

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. Hope to see ALL of you tonight sign up and speak tonight at public hearing. Folks who use anonymity here. David your a prominent citizen also please speak. I am on the fence about this, so really want to hear point and counterpoint. We speak of transparency in council, I expect citizens to be the same. I will be there front and center. Show up speak up! And I put my real name on here!

    • EDITOR’S NOTE: We do not understand the admonition here that it is the public’s duty to keep themselves informed, and no admonition that City Hall (whether anonymous or otherwise) properly inform residents and property owners about this project.

      This project has the potential to do real harm to resident’s and business’ quality of life or return on investment – and in terms of protecting the most significant investment, they will ever make in their lifetime.

      This project was dumped with surprise on these neighborhoods and absent an acknowledgment that City Hall should have informed each and every homeowner, property owner, renter, and lessee, beforehand – either with a knock on their door, and in the case of absentee property owners via a certified letter, each of them would have to attend each and every meeting at City Hall for the rest of their lives to stay informed.

      And, attending meetings would not have been enough as there has yet to be one word spoken there that hinted that it was a 12′ asphalt bike road that would cozy up to the doorsteps of homes and businesses or take away parking from existing businesses, or destroy so may street trees and so much existing landscaping.

      Also, it is not up to residents, property owners, ect., to visit the City website each and every day to protect themselves.

      In this particular case, visiting would not have been enough… the project title is obscure and given that it has only appeared in a prominent spot on the homepage for a few hours since it’s inception, it would otherwise have required digging through pages after pages of documents, and months of meeting minutes, to find anything of a complete understanding of its potential impact.

      Citizens and businesses do enough when they are here minding their own business, and otherwise being good neighbors. City Hall could learn from the example they set.

  2. Tonight, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 7PM there will be a Public Hearing
    about the Bike Path Connector and also a Review of Councilmanic Worksheet-Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge Feasibility Study. Please come and voice your opinions and get involved. Resident involvement is essential and if we don’t attend these meetings and keep updated there won’t be any. The city website has been made user friendly but it’s up to the citizens to use it. REsidents may attend committee meetings and also speak directly to our individul council members and city manager, Dave Kennedy.

    • EDITOR’S NOTE: We do not understand the admonition here that it is the public’s duty to keep themselves informed, and no admonition that City Hall (whether anonymous or otherwise) properly inform residents and property owners about this project.

      This project has the potential to do real harm to resident’s and business’ quality of life or return on investment – and in terms of protecting the most significant investment, they will ever make in their lifetime.

      This project was dumped with surprise on these neighborhoods and absent an acknowledgment that City Hall should have informed each and every homeowner, property owner, renter, and lessee, beforehand – either with a knock on their door, and in the case of absentee property owners via a certified letter, each of them would have to attend each and every meeting at City Hall for the rest of their lives to stay informed.

      And, attending meetings would not have been enough as there has yet to be one word spoken there that hinted that it was a 12′ asphalt bike road that would cozy up to the doorsteps of homes and businesses or take away parking from existing businesses, or destroy so may street trees and so much existing landscaping.

      Also, it is not up to residents, property owners, ect., to visit the City website each and every day to protect themselves.

      In this particular case, visiting would not have been enough… the project title is obscure and given that it has only appeared in a prominent spot on the homepage for a few hours since it’s inception, it would otherwise have required digging through pages after pages of documents, and months of meeting minutes, to find anything of a complete understanding of its potential impact.

      Citizens and businesses do enough when they are here minding their own business, and otherwise being good neighbors. City Hall could learn from the example they set.

  3. I hate the idea! It seems quite presumptuousness to suggest that the bicyclists should park along the route in private commercial lots, causing wear and tear to the surface and taking space from paying customers. Maybe the businesses will require purchase for parking time or restroom use? Much more that I don’t like about it. Keeping it simple.

  4. The True cost of this plan:
    1. Crime goes up because NO ONE will be outside on those porches watching the neighborhood. Why? No porches to sit on in order to watch people.
    2. Mailpeople could be hit by bikes because there is no front yard to speak of, when walking up to deliver mail.
    3. Crime could go up because there is no yard and it is way too easy to just bust a window, grab and run. Why? No porch to provide protection.
    4. Pedestrians being injured because to get into their house, they have to contend with bikers because they have no front yard anymore.
    5. Property values will go WAY down because people buy homes FOR the porches! Taking those porches OUT destroys history and destroys property values.
    6. People do NOT want to live in a city with NO front yards! I hope that this stupid idea dies quickly. We love to visit Venice and then leave, not do the Bike-car version of Venice in Loveland.

    A better idea would be to simply improve public transportation while at the same time, converting a car lane over to a bike lane, so that no one has to lose their front yards or porches. When we make it faster and healthier to use public transportation rather then drive, we make it better for the environment and healthier for people. Less smog, less congestion (if the public transportation is done right). See what at least one town in Sweden did. They made the inner part of the city a walking zone where no cars are allowed, with very few exceptions. Sorry, I forget the name of the town.

    • kytryia – A few counterpoints:

      Crime goes up because NO ONE will be outside on those porches watching the neighborhood. Why? No porches to sit on in order to watch people.

      Counterpoint – No one in my large subdivision sits on their porch (some homes don’t even have them), and we have virtually zero crime. I think your assertion may not be based in reality.

      Mailpeople could be hit by bikes because there is no front yard to speak of, when walking up to deliver mail.

      Counterpoint – Mailpeople in any more danger of being struck by automobiles, yet they seem mostly to survive and go about their work.

      Crime could go up because there is no yard and it is way too easy to just bust a window, grab and run. Why? No porch to provide protection.

      Counterpoint – Porches are seen as worrisome defenses by criminals intent on breaking and entering. Barking dogs, maybe, but not porches.

      Pedestrians being injured because to get into their house, they have to contend with bikers because they have no front yard anymore.

      Counterpoint – Pedestrians seem to be able to walk through the many subdivisions in Loveland that lack sidewalks, typically unharmed by bikers or automobiles.

      Property values will go WAY down because people buy homes FOR the porches! Taking those porches OUT destroys history and destroys property values.

      Counterpoint – I didn’t buy my home for the porch, and I know no one else who has verbalized this sentiment.

      People do NOT want to live in a city with NO front yards! I hope that this stupid idea dies quickly. We love to visit Venice and then leave, not do the Bike-car version of Venice in Loveland.

      Counterpoint – People live in Brooklyn, New York and other places (e.g., Over-the-Rhine) with NO front yards. Demand seems pretty high, in fact.

      • I will give you credit for using “counterpoint”. That is about all. Just becuase you happen to live in a neighbourhood with low crime proves nothing. I happen to have a BS that included intense study of Criminal Justice, Crime and Tort Law. Just people you don’t see people being hit by vehicles does not mean it does not happen. Where I live, two bikers were murdered by cars. One driver had a medical condition. The other driver was drunk. We have had pedestrians hurt because drivers were turning into them and not paying attention. We’ve also had cars not move over for bikers or pedestrians, making us fear for our lives. You may not think it matters, but it does matter. Property values also matter. They hardly have a front yard as it is. They need to preserve what front yard they do have.

  5. How delicious it is to watch those who came 20 years ago, changed the Loveland of the 70’s and 80’s, now complain about new directions for the future as having a negative impact on the quality of life they have come to know.

  6. Personally, I like the plan, but I think the people and business on the proposed route need to be consulted and taken into consideration- as they should with any project.

    I have faith in this council and I hope that they see their mistake in not opening this up to public input sooner. Like many of you stated- that is what we hoped to see with this group.

    In the long run, I think this plans connects the Downtown Historic District and the West Loveland Historic District with easier mobility and helps parking and traffic concerns.

    • Re connection and mobility ….A trebuchet may work just as well, without the taking of private property, and the use of tax payers dollars.

  7. I’ve always thought a several-story pay parking garage would 1) provide city revenue, 2) add much-needed space for those visiting the city and 3) keep parked cars out of sight. Is there potential land where a parking garage could be built instead of a vast swath of encroaching ugliness?

  8. Non transparency – say it ain’t so – this is the “good”council. No community input, where is the “community advocate” when you need him? I’ll promise anything just to get elected, I’m shocked!

    You don’t like this project – how about the 16-19 rental townhomes coming down the street, behind the post office? It’s coming, better pay attention folks. How about pending tax increases coming our way, yep, lots of “behind closed door discussions.”

    What else is this “good” council and fully transparent Mayor Bailey up to?

  9. Thank you again for being our ears and eyes at council meetings. Yet another example of how the press is an invaluable resource in checking the powers of government. How can we find out when this will be up for discussion at council/committee meetings?

    Nobody who paid attention to all the recent development will be shocked that parking is an ongoing problem. We yelled our heads off about the need for attention to downtown parking and traffic and the lack of studies to demonstrate both would be adequately addressed with the addition of Loveland Station. We were ignored. The McCoy lot helps pull some of the bike trail parking away from Nisbet but apparently it’s not enough.

    Marilyn makes a very good point about critical mass – why is the city so keen on attracting even more users for the trail when it is already so crowded at peak times?

    It is hard to imagine why anyone who would not be directly affected would care enough to champion (or oppose) this plan. Most of Loveland isn’t progressive (or desirous of such a label!), and how is tearing out trees and sidewalks “progressive”, anyway? I bet that folks living on the Clermont Co. side of the bridge wouldn’t like to have to deal with a bike lane when driving across town to the schools etc. – especially on top of the additional downtown congestion created in recent years!

    Carol is right – many trail users (i.e. those with dogs, strollers, young kids) are not going to park remotely and use a bike lane along a busy roadway (adding 2+ miles round trip) just to GET to the trail.
    Some/many of the people who would use this new bike lane are already parking remotely and simply riding on the road to get to the trail. No changes are needed to accommodate them.

    Why can’t the city start with a lower-impact plan? For example,
    1) reserve some of the Old Loveland parking for people who are NOT using the trail (i.e. business patrons, city hall visitors)
    2) restrict some of the Old Loveland parking for trail users meeting various criteria (i.e. pushing strollers, walking dogs, pregnant, elderly, wranglers of young children)
    3) maintain and enforce (gently, please!) the downtown parking time restrictions
    4) add signage encouraging the more “hard core” cyclists who are biking long distances and are comfortable pedaling on roadways to utilize the more remote parking (and provide directions to it) – they’d probably be happy to avoid the traffic and crowds downtown.

  10. Why is it that Council past & present has to always back something that ruins the little town feel of Loveland, Ohio? Let bike riders find another place to ride! The trail is getting so crowded, it is dangerous for walkers! If council wants whatever, they will pass it without a vote from the citizens!

  11. How can this newly elected group of people feel this is doable under their promise of transparency? This seems the most unneeded idea I have ever heard of. the parking on Loveland-Madera is skimpy at best and to take down trees and porches for a bike trail seems unnecessary. Does anyone really think those coming for the bike trail will really use this? they certainly won’t unless the parking in town is full first. To say this has not been thought through is certainly and understatement.

  12. Why does this feel like deja vu all over again?

    Didn’t we vote out the Fitzgerald crew to stop this sort of non-transparent nonsense??

    Thank you, David, for bringing sunshine to this apparently poorly thought-out “plan”. It is appalling at best. I look forward to now hearing more from the city itself about this proposal, the numbers behind it, and why they feel the impact you have described (on CURRENT residents/ businesses/property owners) is worth the perceived benefit that would be gained.

    Even if funded 100% by “someone else’s money”, such a sweeping proposal should not be seriously considered without full engagement of a representative group of impacted residents/businesses/property owners.

    • EDITORS NOTE: The only discussion at the council table about this has basically been short and between the City Manager and Councilman Ted Phelps. Neither has expressed that there might be negative consequences for residents or businesses, nor speculated on the numbers of people who would actually use it vs. the cost per user. The council hasn’t even dared to speculate on the number of parking spaces they will free up in the Downtown Historic District vs. the $1.6 million-plus price tag. They have only expressed pride in the project and pride in their pursuit of money to accomplish it. I have not heard one word from the council table suggesting public input is needed or input from such as the Planning Commission, Street and Public Safety Committee, Tree and Environment Committee, or Beautification Committee – all of whom might offer valuable insight into the feasibility of the project and if the $1.6 million actually will be enough to do this project minimally, let alone 1st class.

      Many, in fact, a majority of the community will applaud the project – however, there is no reason to believe this may be so at this point in time. I have seen this before, if money is secured for this, and it will be described as “Free Money” – it may have unfair ramifications for those who live along the route who pay the hidden and uncalculated cost of a reduced quality of life.

      So, it is a fair question to ask, will this project pit those who are not directly affected and think it will be cool for Loveland to have the bragging rights of a forward-thinking and progressive community – against those directly affected.

      In addition, because the plan is so sketchy about the actual route it will take, this project also carries with it the very real possibility that neighbors will be pitted against one another as more influential people direct the route away from themselves and try to impose the negative effects onto their neighbors.

      City Council and the Administration should get all of this insight before they keep spending more tax dollars on something that in the end may prove more distasteful than it is worth.

  13. Well this can’t be true. That batch of councilmembers we elected a few months ago promised us they would solicit more input from the community????

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