Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More Streetcar Obstacles Ahead

This week's City Beat has an article by the always-excellent Kevin Osborne suggesting that Mayor Mallory will have to overcome some significant obstacles to see his streetcar proposal to fruition. Most notably, 3CDC seems to have some concerns about whether they'll continue to get their share of the funding pie once the City starting spending on the streetcar infrastructure:

"We are concerned (that streetcars are) funded with a dedicated revenue stream and a sustainable revenue stream," says Steven Leeper, 3CDC's president. Any financing plan shouldn't rely on funds "presently being used effectively in the neighborhood. We don't want to stop that momentum. We want something that will complement that."
Due to 3CDC's concerns, city officials are tweaking the plan to use less TIF money and likely will borrow more cash. Other ideas also being considered include imposing a special assessment fee on surface parking lots for their "wasted development potential," sources say. There are more than 100 such lots in downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

Many will remember that I wrote a post that was somewhat critical of the streetcar plans a few weeks ago; subsequently, I announced that I've come around--tentatively--to the pro-streetcar side of the issue (not that anyone cares what I think).

3CDC may have a valid concern: the streetcar ought to proceed alongside current development efforts, not in place of them. But assuming that concern can be mollified, there should be no reason for 3CDC to "derail" the streetcar efforts.

It'll be interesting to see what tone the hearing on the 25th takes. If Cranley wants to obstruct what seems like a positive step forward for downtown and OTR, he'll certainly have the opportunity to do so. Hopefully, he take the opportunity to see beyond what he sees as his fairly narrow base of support (which falls squarely outside of downtown) and do the right thing.

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