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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Metro receives $700k grant for Uptown Crossings transit hub

Representative Steve Driehaus (D-OH) has announced another large chunk of money for transportation projects in the Cincinnati region. Funding in the amount of $677,160 has been awarded to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for a new transit hub in Uptown Cincinnati.

SORTA operates the largest transit service in the region, Metro, and will be using the nearly $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for their planned Uptown Crossing Project that will construct a new transit hub with restrooms and facilities for bus drivers, shelters, and a pavilion located near the Cincinnati Zoo.

Representative Driehaus believes strongly in the transit investment saying that, "as we work to improve our transportation infrastructure, we need to modernize transit facilities and expand access for riders. This funding will help SORTA move forward on this critically important project."

Image provided by Metro

Don't Outlaw Choice

Often, those seeking to pass Issue 9 base their skepticism for rail transit on the idea that the success of such a system is unknowable. They claim that there is no way to tell the specific impacts an integrated transportation system will have on our city. Their argument is only true to a point. While pin-point specific data cannot be known until after a system begins operation, there is an ocean of data available from the scores of cities that have chosen to invest in this technology.

Look, if Cincinnati were the first city to come up with the idea of rail transportation, the opponents' skepticism would be legitimate and welcomed. But we have already seen the effects in literally DOZENS of cities. The results are in and these systems work. The vast majority of their skepticism is baseless, unproductive, and downright ignorant when considering the amount of data that exists supporting rail transportation in its various forms.

Why would they attempt to ban all funding for a public good? Transportation is a public good with public benefits. Because transportation has public benefits and is considered a basic public service, transportation in ALL its forms (including roads) is publicly funded. Just as I-75 wasn't funded by an individual or a company, neither should rail be. Local leaders need options of how to pay for this public service.

So where does the money come from? In many instances, the large public benefit of transit encourages federal and state funding. But if Issue 9 passes, the ability for Cincinnati leaders to obtain that funding becomes impossible. Federal dollars are highly competitive, and only the cities with the strongest and fastest applications will receive those dollars. Requiring a public vote will slow the process to the point where Cincinnati is taken out of the running. This leaves no choice for local leaders but to fund these projects with just local dollars.

Therefore, to pass Issue 9 is to eliminate choice. It eliminates the choice of city leaders to find funding. But more significantly, it eliminates the choice of how Cincinnatians live.

Passing Issue 9 will outlaw the choice to either drive or take a commuter train to work in the morning.

Passing Issue 9 will outlaw the choice of Cincinnatians to either drive or ride high-speed rail to that conference in Chicago, that protest in DC, that OSU game in Columbus, that concert in St. Louis, that holiday in New York City.

Passing Issue 9 would outlaw the choice to take a train to Bengals game, or pay for $3/gal gas and $15 for parking on top of $80 dollar tickets and $8 beers.

Passing Issue 9 eliminates the choice between having a worry-free night on the town, or having to call it an early night so as to not drive while intoxicated.

Don’t outlaw choice. Vote No on Issue 9.

For more information, visit Cincinnatians for Progress. There you can see who else wants to preserve choice, check out their blog, see other reasons why Issue 9 leads to ineffective governance, sign up to volunteer, request a yard sign, or even donate to the cause.

Image credit here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Popopolis bringing great local music to Fountain Square this weekend

If you weren't able to get your fix of live music at Midpoint Music Festival last weekend, or if you're itching for more, then this weekend on Fountain Square is for you. On Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3 Fountain Square will play host to the first Popopolis music event.

The new Fountain Square event will start off with a reunion of bands who played in the Southgate House Popopolis days from 1998 to 2002. The event will be hosted by WOXY's program director Matt Sledge and will have plenty of food and drink available to keep everyone happy.

Each night will feature seven different bands on two different stages so that the music keeps on going without delay for setup and breakdown procedures. The music will start at 7pm with the last band taking the Main Stage at 10pm and playing until around 11pm. The official after party each night will be just around the corner at the recently opened Righteous Room in the Backstage Entertainment District.

If you're into the local music scene, and must choose between Friday or Saturday night, then Saturday night is definitely for you with a full card of local bands including big names like The Seedy Seeds, Wussy, and Bad Veins (view the full list of bands for each night below).

The event is free and open to the public. There is plenty of easily accessible parking available in the Fountain Square Parking Garage located directly underneath Fountain Square, and Metro bus service is available from virtually every route to the Government Square bus station located across the street from Fountain Square's southeastern corner. To find out which route is most convenient for you, and to play your trip now, use Metro's Trip Planner.

Main Stage | Acoustic Stage
7:00pm, Saving Ray | 7:40pm, Bri Love
8:00pm, Clabbergirl | 8:40pm, Messerly & Ewing
9:00pm, Rockets to Mars | 9:40pm, Mike Landis
10:00pm, Throneberry

Main Stage | Acoustic Stage
7:00pm, State Song | 7:40pm, The Seedy Seeds
8:00pm, Wussy | 8:40pm, Jason Snell (The Chocolate Horses)
9:00pm, Pomegranates | 9:40pm, Dan Mecher (Turnbull AC's)
10:00pm, Bad Veins

Friday, September 25, 2009

New renderings of UC's Jefferson Ave. Sports Complex

New renderings of the University of Cincinnati's "Jefferson Avenue Sports Complex" have been released. This complex will feature a full-sized 100-yard field which the lacrosse team will use for home games, and a smaller 50-yard practice field. During the winter months, the large field will be covered by a "bubble", providing an indoor practice space for football, lacrosse, track and field, and soccer. The indoor facility will maintain a temperature of 50-60 degrees, even in the harshest of Cincinnati's winters.

In constructing the new complex, the University will be removing a maintenance facility and a parking lot, one of only two large lots remaining on campus. The new facility will be adjacent to the University's existing Varsity Village complex, which includes Nippert Stadium, Fifth Third Arena at the Shoemaker Center, Gettler Stadium, Marge Schott Stadium, and Sheakley Lawn.

Additional reading:

Farmer's Fair in Covington 9/26 - 9/27

As if we all didn't have enough going on this weekend, another fun and interesting place to check out in the urban core is Farmers Fair at the base of the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Covington this coming Saturday & Sunday.

This first annual event features a kickoff party on Saturday evening which will include food & drinks for sale and a party atmosphere up until 9pm that night. While there is a lot of fun to be had on Saturday, Sunday truly seems to be the main event with many local farmers showing up with their food for sale. There will also be other entertainment and many guest speakers throughout the day running from 11am - 5pm.

Stop over and support a unique local gathering which promotes local food and local farmers all in an urban environment in the heart of Covington. Headed to PBS to catch the Bengals game? You could easily stop by and get your fixin's at Farmers Fair and then enjoy a great tailgate prior to the big game.

Photo by Scott Beseler

The 3C Corridor and its impacts on Cincinnati

Representatives from the Ohio's Department of Transportation traveled to City Hall last week to host an open forum discussing and explaining the 3C passenger rail project to Cincinnatians. This proposal will connect Cincinnati to Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland via passenger rail, and a group of about 30 people gathered at City Hall to get more information on the upcoming project and voice their opinions on the project and how it will affect Cincinnati.

The 3C representatives went through a detailed presentation outlining the plan that will be submitted to the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act for funding. If funding is approved for this project, there will be a preliminary "Quick Start" phase to get the rail up and running as quickly as possible. In this first phase it will take approximately 6.5 hours to ride the train from Cincinnati to Cleveland, with the trains reaching speeds of up to 79 miles per hour.

The eventual goal is to develop high-speed rail in Ohio, with trains traveling up to 110 miles per hour, and eventually connecting into the larger Midwest regional rail plan often referred to as the Chicago Hub. At these speeds the travel time from Cincinnati to Cleveland will be reduced to approximately 3.5 hours. Future hubs will create more stops than the six that are currently proposed. The current recommended route that will be submitted with the proposal includes hubs in Cleveland proper, south Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, north Cincinnati, and Cincinnati proper.

So how does this affect Cincinnati? Having reliable passenger rail connecting the public throughout the state of Ohio is fantastic. Of course, high-speed rail is the preferable (and eventual) goal, but one has to wonder how effective taking "baby steps" towards rail will be as opposed to tackling high-speed rail in one fell swoop.

The biggest concern at the meeting was the location of the train station that would service the greater Cincinnati area. The research group initially picked three locations to focus on: the Queensgate area, an area near Riverside Drive/the Boathouse/Sawyer Point, or a station located farther east, near Lunken Airport. All three of these options naturally have their drawbacks. The Queensgate area already deals with large amounts of freight traffic, and the concern was that there would be too much congestion in the area to make that stop feasible.

The proposed "Option one" (Riverside Drive) area was the station that caused the most concern and alarm among residents who were in attendance at the meeting. Denise Driehaus, a state representative who hails from the West Side, voiced her concern that locating the station on the far southeast side of the City would set up obstacles for citizens traveling from the west side. It is also less advantageous from a retail and tourism perspective, as newcomers to the Cincinnati will be dropped off on the east side rather than more towards the city center.

There were several East End citizen groups who were concerned about the Option One site for different reasons. Over the course of several years, citizen groups and people from the area have worked hard to create a "Riverfront Renaissance" consisting of the network of parks and housing in that particular area. These citizens are concerned that a new diesel train station would disturb the views and tear down the aforementioned parks. All of these proposed stations are, as of now, only temporary locations. As the Riverfront Renaissance spokesman stated, "temporary' is measured in decades in Cincinnati."

As of the meeting, the ODOT representatives stated that they had not come to a conclusion on which Cincinnati site they would choose to include in the October 2nd proposal. However, Jason from Somewhere Over-the-Rhine cites an article from the Enquirer stating that the backlash from this open forum meeting prompted officials to choose the Lunken Airport site as opposed to the eastern riverfront area.

There are obvious drawbacks to this site as well, the most obvious being its distance from the Cincinnati's center city and its attractions and accommodations for business and leisure travelers alike. There is also the issue of being so far away from the existing Amtrak service that connects Cincinnati with Indianapolis and Chicago to the west, and Washington D.C. to the east - both of which run out of Cincinnati's Union Terminal in Queensgate.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Award-winning reporter Laure Quinlivan dives into Cincinnati's transit debate

Award-winning investigative reporter and Cincinnati City Council candidate, Laure Quinlivan put together this incredible report on transit systems. Quinlivan visits Portland to speak with residents, businesses and community leaders about their modern streetcars, light rail, and walkable urban neighborhoods to see what a city similar in size to Cincinnati has achieved by embracing transportation options.

Quinlivan then goes to Germany to see how the leader in modern transport systems is working today. Streetcars, bicycles, pedestrian-only spaces, and streetcars are what most German cities are embracing to make their cities more livable. To my knowledge there has been no other report that dives into this issue as in-depth as Quinlivan's report. Please take the time to view the video in its entirety and please share it with a friend or family member who may be looking to learn more.

Laure Quinlivan's Streetcar Report from Laure Quinlivan on Vimeo.

35 center city businesses extending business hours with "Lite the Nite"

Thirty-five businesses throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine will be extending their dining and shopping hours, and offering some special promotions as part of the first "Lite the Nite" retail event that is meant to highlight the diverse collection of shops, restaurants and services located throughout Cincinnati's center city.

The Cincinnati Historic Midtown Merchants Association teamed up with Mayor Mallory on this effort that will bring extended hours to the participating stores on Friday, September 25. The "Lite the Nite" event will going on during the same time as Midpoint Music Festival so there should be tons of live music and festivities sprinkled all over Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. MPMF runs through this Saturday, September 26.

All stores will be open until 9pm or later, with many staying open late into the night. View a full map of the participating stores below with their extended hours and locations.

View "Lite the Nite" in a larger map

MPMF Is Here

By this point, everyone is aware that the 9th annual MidPoint Music Festival hits downtown Cincy this Thursday, September 24 through Saturday, September 26. Instead of giving you something you could get elsewhere, we thought we'd provide you links to a few pages that may help narrow down the 270 bands there are to choose from.

When was the last time you had 270 choices as to how to spend three evenings? Well, since 270 is a lot to choose from, we give you the MPMF homepage at CityBeat as a jumping off point. Check out the CityBeat homepage and go through the bands alphabetically; stop and listen to a few bands there but make sure to explore some on MySpace. If you do nothing else, our recommendation is that you pay special attention to the DIG lines in the description as CityBeat does their best job to point you in the right direction.

Still too much work? There are some recommendations out there, including some from our friends at EachNoteSecure here, here, here, and my very own preview here. There will be a ton more MPMF news posted in the coming days, so make sure you keep an eye on their homepage.

As you can tell there is a ton to choose from and the $29 wristband is quite a deal for three nights of music. What does $29 get you? The wristband allows you to jump in any one of the sixteen Scion Streetcars to get around town all weekend. It also allows you to go from venue to venue as many times as you want without additional charge. Truly at a cost of less than $10 a night, the wristband provides flexibility and value that are well worth the price if you plan on going all weekend or even just two of the three nights. However, there are plenty of other options including paying at the door of each venue or even free shows on Fountain Square each night over the course of the weekend. (Fountain Square shows feature bands that are playing throughout the rest of the weekend and are a true steal!)

Texts to 4632 from Cincinnati Bell Wireless accounts, and tweets using the #MPMF hash tag on Twitter or messages posted on the site will be displayed on Web-enabled monitors in festival venues, on a projection of the site on the facade of Grammer's and on the Fountain Square video board. If you want to get a steady stream of updates be sure to follow @MidPointMusic, @MetromixCincy, and @CincyBlog on Twitter to get festival updates throughout the weekend.

Looking forward to seeing you around town this weekend. Enjoy the music! We are all lucky and better off to have it all right here in front of us for the taking!

Photo by Flickr user his blog here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sen. Brown announces $700k for Ohio Hub

United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has announced the passage of $2.75 million in federal funds for transportation and infrastructure projects in Ohio. $700,000 of that money will be going towards improving the capacity of passenger and freight trains - a critical component of the Midwest Regional Rail System that officials says will integrate the region’s air, highway, and local transit networks along 3,000-mile interstate rail network with more than 45 proposed passenger stations.

Senator Brown said that, “investing in Ohio’s transportation infrastructure is critical to ensuring the long-term economic competitiveness of our state. These funds will help communities make necessary improvements to buildings, roads, and public transportation.”

Also within the bill, the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, Inc. will receive $500,000 for renovation and improvement work at their 110,000 square-foot food distribution facility. Senator Brown's office states that these improvements will allow the center to increase capacity and food handling efficiency, while also creating a suitable space to the organization's Nonprofit Training Center.

Boss Finney: Sorry Kids

Cartoon by Nick Sweeney

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Katie Laur Tribute Concert - 9/24

On Thursday, September 24 Cincinnatians will be able to pay tribute to Cincy's Queen of Bluegrass, Katie Laur, at concert to be held at the Madison Theater in Covington. The concert will celebrate Laur's life and musical career.

Katie Laur spent the majority of her life doing what she loved - music. Over this time she performed with a slew of other musicians and at live gigs all across the larger region, and hosted a radio program on WNKU 89.7. She eventually released three albums with the Katie Laur Band and received the Ohio Arts Council's prestigious Ohio Heritage Music Fellowship in 2008.

The concert will begin at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm) and will feature some of the region's top Bluegrass artists (full list below), and will feature nationally-syndicated radio personality Gary Burbank as the event emcee. Tickets can be purchased online for $10 and will also be available at the door (map). For more information, contact concert organizers Ed Cunningham,, 513-225-6040; or Liz Wu of Play it Forward,, 513-254-5033.

7:30 - 8:10 | Magnolia Mountain
8:20 - 9:10 | The Turkeys
9:20 - 10:00 | Ma Crow and Friends
10:10 - 10:45 | Comet Bluegrass All-Stars
11:00 - 12:00 | Jazz and Bluegrass with Katie Laur

Madison Theater photograph by Flickr user stopthegears.

Cincinnati lands major 2011 convention

According to the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cincinnati has landed another major convention as the Prince Hall Shriners have selected Cincinnati for their 2011 Imperial Session. The African-American fraternal organization does a considerable amount of work raising money for their three primary programs: National Diabetes Initiative, Shriners as Mentors, and Student Aid.

The group will reportedly bring more than 25,000 attendees, utilize more than 17,000 hotel room nights, and pump more than $5 million into the local economy during their visit. Cincinnati reportedly had been working on landing this convention for more than five years and beat out Phoenix to seal the deal. The Prince Hall Shriners last held their annual event in Cincinnati in 1961

The announcement continues the positive trend major ethnic organizations selecting Cincinnati as the host city for their annual conventions. In 2008, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) selected Cincinnati and brought significant national attention to the city that included a visit from then presidential candidate Barack Obama and several other notable African-American leaders. Shortly after the NAACP convention closed, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) announced that it too would be bringing its annual convention to Cincinnati in 2011. Other events celebrating Cincinnati's rich cultural diversity lately have included the National Hispanic MBAs in 2006, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives in 2006, the Gospel Music Workshop of America in 2009, the recently announced 2013 National Fraternal Order of Police National Conference, and the 2010 annual meeting of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bearcats Rising!

I haven't commented on here about this yet, but the Bearcats are rolling early this year and have rightfully earned a lot of national attention for this early part of the season usually reserved for the established programs. But while Cincy may not be an established program yet, it seems like they may be well on their way to defending as Big East champs and going to their second straight BCS bowl game.

So far Senior QB Tony Pike has looked masterful running the high tempo offense that clearly confused and worn out all three opponents the Bearcats have faced. Aside from Pike's large size (6'6") and ability to scramble if need be, his accuracy on both the long and short balls has been incredible to watch (imagine a more athletic Ben Roethlisburger who can pass accurately and throw the deep ball).

Another welcome change has been the terrific play of the offensive line. Last year's line was riddled with holding penalties, false starts and allowed defenses to put a lot of pressure on Pike at times. This year Pike has barely been touched and penalties have been so few and far between that you might have forgotten what it's like to actually set yourself back on offense.

The great play by the offensive line is really symbolic of the overall team that looks extremely well-coached and ready to play. It's not often that you get a conference game with so much importance as UC's road game at Rutgers in week 1, but it's ever rarer that a team comes out and plays so flawlessly as the Bearcats did.

As for the offense appears to be better than advertised with a confident Tony Pike who is currently in the top five for Heisman candidates. In a nutshell, the offense is scary good. The defense was the big question mark as 10 of the 11 starters from a year ago graduated and Kelly's defensive recruits are now on the field, and like the offense, the defense has been better than advertised. They're putting pressure on the quarterback, forcing turnovers, and holding teams to low point totals.

Before week 1 the Bearcats weren't even in the Top 25 in either poll. Now after three straight impressive wins the Bearcats have moved up to #14 and #15 in the AP and USA Today polls respectively. Combine the impressive start with the remainder of a season in which the Bearcats should be favored, and early struggles by other top teams, and you have yourself an interesting scenario. Bearcats vs. Gators in the National Championship Game on January 7th in Pasadena, California.

The Bearcats play Fresno State at home this weekend at noon. Fresno State is coming off close and tough loses at Wisconsin and at Boise State, and should be another nice game for the Bearcats. The UC Athletic Department has announced that this game, and games against Louisville and West Virginia are all close to selling out. So get your tickets now and remember to wear white to this weekend's game against Fresno State. Go Bearcats!

'Oh The Irony'

Cartoon by Nick Sweeney

Strong Gay Communities Are an Important Part of a Healthy Urban Core

On Tuesday, September 15, the Democrat controlled Ohio House approved the Equal Housing and Employment Act (HB 176) that bans housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed with a 56-39 vote margin and now moves to the GOP controlled Senate, where passage is less likely.

As of today, twenty states and the District of Columbia have similar laws in effect and 12 states currently offer full housing and employment protection for the LGBT community. If this legislation passes, Ohio will become the 13th state to offer full protection for the LGBT community against such discrimination, putting Ohio on the forefront of fighting for gay rights. This will send a message to the LGBT community in Ohio and across the country that Ohio is a welcoming and an open-minded place that promotes strong gay communities.

I personally believe having a strong gay community is a key part of having a strong urban core and that this legislation is irrevocably tied to the health of Cincinnati’s core. When you look at cities in North America with vibrant cores, they tend to have successful, happy LGBT communities as well. This occurs because we gays are an urban bunch, often pioneering urban development, forming a niche in the city, and claiming a space of our own. These ‘gayborhoods’ become identifiable with the LGBT community and a sense of pride is taken to ensure they are maintained. Chicago has their Boystown, San Francisco has The Castro, and New York has…well…Manhattan. These places are thriving urban neighborhoods, act as ethnic enclaves for their respective cities, and are a key part of a diverse, vibrant urban core.

If Cincinnati and other Ohio cities want to have diverse, active, and interesting urban cores, Ohioans must embrace the LGBT community and allow them to maintain or establish a successful niche. If this legislation passes, Ohio will take steps towards achieving that goal and if it does not, my community will continue to feel like second class citizens and look elsewhere to live; our fabulous urban lifestyles in tow.

Cincinnati needs a strong gay community for a more vibrant, diverse, eclectic urban core. This is one of many reasons that I support the passage of HB 176 and urge the Ohio Senate to pass the bill as soon as possible.

Guest editorial written by Greg Meckstroth. Photography by Scott Beseler.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cincinnati PARKing Day: Lunchtime

We've been having a blast down on Vine Street for Cincinnati Park(ing) Day. So far the PARKing spot participants are as follows:

Segway Cincinnati


Urban Roots

Free Store Food Bank

The cool kids (John, Alicia, Jocelyn, Jenny and friends)

It is rumored that Tucker's will be having their parking spot (possibly with live music!) open later today. There have been people stopping by all morning and now into the afternoon. It's been great to meet new people and take a minute to enjoy the streetscape of Cincinnati. It's slowed down, and the spots have consolidated a little, but I'll be around until around 5pm. Come hang out in a re-purposed parking spot at PARK(ing) Day!

Cincinnati PARK(ing) Day

Today is National PARK(ing) Day. In 2005, San Francisco art collaborative REBAR decided to take over a metered parking space for a day and turn it into a public space. The ratio of public space to parking space in San Francisco is heavily skewed toward parking. In 2006 it went public, and now PARK(ing) Day is celebrated all over the world.

Various individuals and business in the Cincinnati area have come together to make spaces for the public to enjoy. You can check out the map of individual locations here. There are currently several spaces taken up on Vine Street near Central Parkway, outside the Segway store and Park+Vine. Check back later for updates of other PARK(ing) spots around the city!

3Es Summit to offer sustainability solutions for local organizations

One of the elements of the Green Cincinnati Plan (pdf) is an educational outreach effort that focuses on businesses, health and educational institutions, and community non-profit and faith-based organizations that have not fully developed a plan for reducing their energy demand. To address that component the Energy, Economics, Environment (3Es) Summit will “provide area business and community leaders industry-specific insight on sustainability efforts, particularly those with a positive impact on the bottom line.”

The summit will take place on Friday, October 2 from 7:30am to 1pm at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati where national and local leaders will discuss strategies that are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs. Event organizers say that the 3E’s Summit will allow attendees to learn about and discuss sustainability solutions relevant to their respective organizations.

The half-day event is structured to have three concurrent educational sessions, exhibitors and keynote speaker John Stowell who is vice president of environmental, health and safety policy for Duke Energy. Stowell has also recently returned from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Summit in Copenhagen and will speak on climate change in terms of both the domestic and international agenda. Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher will also be giving a keynote address during the summit.

Registration is $50 in advance and $60 at the door. You can register now online at the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce's website or by calling (513) 579-3111. The Duke Energy Convention Center is well-served by Queen City Metro routes 1, 21, 27, 50, 64, and 77X. To see which route is most convenient for you, and to plan your trip now, use Metro's Trip Planner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fox 19 broadcasting live on Fountain Square tomorrow morning

Fox 19 will be broadcasting their morning show live on Fountain Square tomorrow morning from 7am to 8am. The broadcast will be quite similar to the Today Show which is outdoors on Rockefeller Center in New York.

There will also be a band from next week's MidPoint Music Festival performing live on the Square. If you're already going to be Downtown you might want to swing by for this fun event. If you're not already Downtown, then you might want to make it a fun Friday morning by swinging by.

UC*Metro deal renewed for 2009-10 school year

University of Cincinnati students, faculty, and staff have enjoyed free or discounted rides on Cincinnati’s Metro bus service since 2007. The original deal allowed anyone with a valid UC ID card (“Bearcat card”) to ride for free by simply showing his or her ID.

In 2008, some changes were made to the program, requiring students, faculty, and staff to obtain a free quarterly UC*Metro card. This change was made in order to prevent abuse to the program from people with invalid UC ID cards. Eventually, the terms of the program changed, requiring a small fee for these cards.

The UC*Metro deal has been renewed for the 2009-10 school year, with some additional changes:

  • The passes will now cost $40 per quarter for students, and $120 per quarter for faculty and staff.
  • Riders must now present both their UC*Metro card and a valid UC ID.
  • The passes are now only valid for rides within Metro Zone 1. If traveling to an outer zone, the rider must pay the difference between the Zone 1 fare and the normally applicable fare.
  • UC will contribute an additional $100,000 to Metro for this year’s program.

Although this year’s program is more expensive for both riders and the University, UC*Metro passes are still a good deal for UC students, faculty, and staff. Students can visit Metro’s website and use their trip planner, order your UC*Metro card, and start taking advantage of our city’s mass transit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wine Over Water on the Purple People Bridge - 9/19

Looking for an opportunity to enjoy some fabulous wine while supporting a good cause and doing all on top of the Ohio River? Well then Wine Over Water is for you as the wine tasting event will be held on the Purple People Bridge on Saturday, September 19 from 7pm to 10pm and will raise money to repaint the pedestrian/event bridge hosting the event.

The Newport Citizens Advisory Council is hosting the event and says that in addition to raising money to repaint Cincinnati's second oldest existing river span, it will also raise money for the ECHO Soup Kitchen.

Event organizers say that participants will be sampling a selection of international wines and a variety of offerings from Cincinnati's best wineries. Many of the local wineries present will also have bottles of wine for sale at the event if you taste one you particularly enjoy. There will also be hors d'oeuvres, live music, and a commemorative tasting glass all for just $20 in advance ($25 at the door). Tickets can be purchased in person at Kentucky Haus (10th & Monroe in Newport) or online here. A valid ID (must be 21 years of age) is required to be admitted to the event.

Oktoberfest Kommt

Of course, you can't expect UrbanCincy to skip over one of the biggest parties of the year can you? Oktoberfest is upon us as six blocks of downtown Cincinnati will be transformed into the largest German party this side of Munich on Saturday & Sunday. Reminding our readers to find their way down would be very simple, but hopefully you've come to expect a little more than that from us here.

First off, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, as it officially called, has received large amounts of critical acclaim through the years. In the past both USA Today and have ranked our version of this German party as one of the best festivals in the country, and this year DigitalCity says we are number one! While DigitalCity may not be the most mainstream outlet out there, isn't awfully nice to know that yet again Cincinnati is garnering the respect and attention it deserves?

Think Oktoberfest is just a time to come down and wander through the streets while sipping a cold one? Think again! There are all kinds of activities planned for the weekend including a few lead up events on Fountain Square both Thursday and Friday over the lunch hour. Additionally this year there is the HYPE Haus Party, which does cost a bit of money for entry but looks to be a great time as it includes both a beer sampling, and a light buffet among other things.

So now you know the critical acclaim, as well as all the other activities that go along with Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, but what is probably most important is that this weekend 500,000 people will descend on what we know is an urban city center that is supremely different than it was even a year or two ago. For all of the positive press that Cincinnati has received, and all the work that has been done, this should really be a time to show off and have a great time with half a million of our closest friends! Those of us that are strong and vocal advocates for all that has been happening should make sure that we get the story out and help everyone else see all the great things going on around outside the mini-Munich on Fifth Street that will be there for two days.

What else do you need to know? Well, make sure you bring an appetite as tons of food will be served and more than a few beers will be poured so don't forget to come thirsty too. And oh yeah, keep an eye out for native son Jim Koch of Sam Adams fame, TV's biggest beer man, from Cheers it's George Wendt, and some guy named Homer will be around too. Prost!

Oktoberfest photo by Jayson Gomes of Cincy Images.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

GC Independent Week - Now thru Sept 20

This week marks the fall version of Greater Cincinnati Independents Restaurant Week. This semi-annual event held by GCI gives diners a chance to get out and try out locally owned restaurants for the very reasonable price of $26.09. What's $26.09 get you? Most places have set up a prix fixe menu that features three courses, though some of the more casual places offer up dinner for two for $26.09.

Borrowing the idea from other cities such as New York & San Francisco, thirty-three locally owned Greater Cincinnati restaurants are giving you the opportunity to get out and try something new this week. At such a reasonable price, this affords all of us the chance to go support a locally owned spot that we may not have had a chance to yet. Many of the places on the list give you at least a few choices for all three courses, so even though it is prix fixe there is some flexibility in what you order. Additionally, the full menu is available as well, but you will have to pay full price.

Aside from the news & menus for this week, the GCI site does a wonderful job letting you know why it is important to support your local establishment and also offers a discounted gift certificate program in case you can't find your way out this week (or more likely, can't get to all the spots you want to). So, to all foodies & non-foodies alike, get out between now and September 20 to eat some good food and support your neighbors that help to give the Greater Cincinnati area "smart culinary options."

Lavomatic Cafe photo by 5chw4r7z.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Making the most of Cincinnati's boulevards and parkways

City Parks points us to the efforts underway in New York City to make better use of the boulevards and parkways there. Cincinnati knows a thing or two about boulevards and parkways as it is cris-crossed with beautiful and relaxing drives through the city, but how wonderful are these boulevards and parkways for bicyclists and pedestrians?

In New York City, the transportation department there is working aggressively to add separated bike lanes along central medians. These dedicated lanes offer two separate lanes - one for each direction of bicycle traffic. At the same time public officials are looking to plant more trees and install additional benches and garden areas within those median spaces.

Locally a great example for this would be Central Parkway. Central Parkway is one of the beautiful routes through the city and is a delight to use as a motorist with the established trees, soft curves, and romantic lighting schemes. Many bicyclists see Central Parkway as a great route for bicyclists looking to avoid the hilly landscape between the Uptown neighborhoods and Downtown-area neighborhoods in the basin.

LEFT: Pike Street in NYC being equipped with bicycle lanes, plaza spaces, and has preserved its trees (Photo from StreetsBlog). RIGHT: Central Parkway in Cincinnati's downtown was recently redone with new trees, wider medians, planters, new lighting, and plenty of grass to go around (Photo from Queen City Survey).

There is a problem though. City transportation officials have cited the parkway design standards that are in place as a hurdle towards incorporating dedicated bike lanes than are physically separated from vehicular traffic. The current standards along Central Parkway call for a double row of trees along the parkway to maintain that beautiful tree cover. These standards did not apply to the recent improvements made along Central Parkway through Downtown - a project that could have easily included these dedicated lanes in addition to the trees, lighting, and other landscaping that was incorporated there.

While avoiding getting into the dirty engineering requirements for roadway design, more needs to be done to work with bicyclists and pedestrians in creating more hospitable public thoroughfares for more than just automobiles. In this case the trees probably could be preserved while also creating physically separated bike lanes. In one of the most densely populated and space-cramped cities in the world, New York City is not only providing physically separated bike lanes for each direction of bike traffic, but they're planting more trees, adding more benches and making better use of their space.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Watch the Bengals take on the Broncos live from Fountain Square

The Bengals will kick off the new season in a few hours when they take on the Denver Broncos downtown at Paul Brown Stadium. If you don't have tickets and are looking for a great way to watch the game Fountain Square LED Video Board will be showing the game live.

The Hudy Tailgate on the Square will take place every Sunday in September and October, except for Oktoberfest weekend, according to the Fountain Square Management Group. This Sunday's festivities will include live music from 11am to 1pm by Cover Model with the game at 1pm.

The Fountain Square Parking Garage offers convenient parking directly underneath the square. Fountain Square is also well-served by virtually all Queen City Metro bus routes at the Government Square bus hub located across the street from the eastern edge of Fountain Square. To see which route is most convenient for you, and to plan your trip now, use Metro's Trip Planner.

Photo from Genius of Water on Flickr.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Orleans Jazz & Food Festival at Washington Platform - 9/13

In addition to the Second on Sunday on Main festivities in Over-the-Rhine tomorrow, Washington Platform will be hosting a new monthly event featuring authentic Louisiana food and live Jazz music from the Mike Sharfe Trio.

The new Second Sunday New Orleans Jazz & Food Festival at Washington Platform will run from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday, September 13. There is plenty of free on-street parking nearby. Washington Platform is also well-served by more than a dozen Queen City Metro routes within one block of the restaurant. To see which route is most convenient for you, and to plan your trip now, use Metro's Trip Planner.

Photo from Rrrrrd's photostream on Flickr.

Tour new condos in OTR this weekend

From noon to 5pm on Sunday, September 13, the public is invited to tour some of Over-the-Rhine's newest condos and lofts. The free OTR Tour of Living will take guests through 11 buildings in historic Over-the-Rhine; seven of which have opened within the past year.

In all, there are 115 units priced from the low $100's to the mid $200's within the 11 buildings (full list below). More than 40 percent of these units have already been sold or are currently under contract, but all of the buildings on the tour still have some units available according to Gateway Quarter realtors.

The OTR Tour of Living will take place during the monthly Second Sunday on Main street festival which features local vendors, live music, beer, food, cooking demonstrations and more. September's Second Sunday on Main festival is the last one of the 2009 season, so be sure to get out there.

Those going on the tour can pick up a map and “OTR Gateway Quarter Tour of Living” information at tents located at 12th and Main and 12th and Vine streets. Event organizers will also be providing free Gateway Quarter water bottles to tour participants, and will also offer the opportunity to register for door prizes from the Gateway Quarter shopping district.

Parking is available a the corner of 12th and Vine as well as street parking along Vine, Walnut and 12th streets. The Gateway Quarter and Main Street through OTR is also well-served by a host of Queen City Metro routes. To see which route is most convenient for you, and to plan your trip now, use Metro's Trip Planner.

OTR Tour of Living Loft Condos:
  • 14th & Vine, 1331-35 Vine St.
  • Belmain Lofts, 1202 Main St.
  • Centennial Row, 12th and Race streets
  • City Home, 14th and Pleasant streets
  • Duveneck Flats, 1214-20 Vine St.
  • Falling Wall, 1417-21 Main St.
  • Gateway Condos, 1128 Vine St.
  • Good Fellows Hall, 1306 Main St.
  • Lackman Lofts, 1237 Vine St.
  • Mottainai, 1222-24 Republic St.
  • Trideca Lofts, 1232 Vine St.

Friday, September 11, 2009

UC Student Government unanimously votes to oppose Issue 9

On August 29 the University of Cincinnati Student Government Association (SGA), which represents more than 37,000 students, unanimously passed a resolution bill that opposes Issue 9, the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment being pushed by the local special interest group COAST.

In a release, SGA's Director of Governmental Affairs stated that, "It was important for us [students] to show our support for rail. We are constituents in the November election and our voices should be recognized."

Sutton worked with Student Body President Tim Lolli who said, "railway systems will allow students to have a better connection with the City of Cincinnati and beyond,” and that, “the railways could be heavily utilized by students for affordable, convenient and engaging travel.”

SGA’s Director of City Relations, Tim Oliver, also helped to create the bill. “We want to have potential City Council and mayoral candidates hold open-house debates educating students about the issue,” said Oliver who goes on to say that SGA will continue its support of passenger rail in the fall. President Tim Lolli also has plans to invite organizations on-campus to speak about Issue 9 and its potential impact.

For Stronger Neighborhoods, Vote No on Issue 9

City Cellars: A Downtown Oasis

City Cellars is easy to miss a you travel south down Race Street, and while it's not large in stature, it is quite well done and an important player in our community. Nestled at the NE corner of 9th and Race streets in the heart of downtown, a gigantic mural nearly overshadows the set-back storefront. Before walking into the store, you just might walk past Jim Tarbell or General Manager Brian Hymel enjoying a glass of beer or wine on the front porch of the establishment.

There's always something going on at City Cellars as evidenced by their busy weekend coming up. There is a Cellar Party this weekend with 20% off everything in the cellar and free pizza! It runs from 5pm to 7pm on Saturday and you must RSVP by 2pm on Friday by sending an email to On Sunday City Cellars will be hosting a tailgate party for the Bengals game. Bryan plans on staying open this week & every other week for the Bengals games which include a tailgate for home games & viewing party for all games just as long as the the Bengals are on TV. We recommend calling ahead to check the schedule at 513-621-9463.

City Cellars photography by David Ben

In addition to the events going on this weekend, City Cellars offers a wine tasting event each Tuesday called TGIT, or “Thank Grapes it’s Tuesday! ” A wine representative is on hand every Tuesday to provide detailed information about each wine, the region it comes from, and how to purchase a bottle. Tastings are between 5:30pm and 7:30pm each Tuesday, but guests are encouraged to come at any point over the two hours. At just $8 for four (generous) pours, it’s a fantastic way to unwind after work.

If hunger strikes while sipping a Syrah or Grenache, try one of their incredible brick-oven pizzas available for purchase. Or, of you’d like something just a bit lighter, sample the cheeses and crackers offered at no charge. And as if there aren’t enough reasons to love City Cellars, they are also huge fans of the Cincinnati Streetcar. See some of the reasons why they like it here.

Dave Rolfes also contributed to this article.

City Cellar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reggae on the River - 9/11

As a summer send off, Give Back Cincinnati is hosting "Reggae on the River" on the Purple People Bridge Friday, September 11 from 7pm to 11pm. In addition to Rastafarian music, Reggae on the River will also have Centerville BBQ, rum drinks and everyone's favorite Christian Moerlein drinks.

The Ark Band (listen here) will take the stage at 8:30pm and play until things wrap up at 11pm. Following that the festivities will move off the bridge and into Jefferson Hall at Newport on the Levee which will play host to the official Reggae on the River after party. Tickets are $10 a piece, but if bought in advance will get you two free drink tickets - so buy your tickets online now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For Stronger Neighborhoods, Vote No on Issue 9

Cincinnatians For Progress is reporting that the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment has been assigned #9 for its issue number for this November's election.

Rail transit is a critical part to the transportation network of any metropolitan region. In terms of both freight and passenger, rail can move more for less. And it is not just more efficient, rail transit is also more economically advantageous than similarly built road systems that require heavy taxpayer funding.

Passenger rail in Cincinnati will make not only our urban core even better, but it will make our whole region better as we move forward with creating more transportation options that help relieve congestion, reduce emissions, and promote connectivity and commerce.

For Stronger Neighborhoods, Vote No on Issue 9

Skywalkers II

Construction workers continue their work on what will become Cincinnati's tallest skyscraper - the Great American Tower at Queen City Square. These photos are from UrbanCincy friend Casey Coston and were taken from the 29th floor of the Atrium Building across the street. last week Casey also provided earlier photos of construction progress in the Skywalkers I edition.

Click any image to open larger version in new window.

Cincinnati Beer Festival on Fountain Square - 9/11

The Cincinnati Beer Festival takes place this Friday, September 11 at 5pm and will last though the night in the heart of Downtown on Fountain Square. The festival will bring a variety of local distributors and brewers for a beer tasting and sampling event perfect for any beer connoisseur.

Event organizers say that you will be able to drink all of your favorite national and local brews, while also being introduced to some you probably have never heard of (always a fun treat). For those lesser known beers there will be staff on hand to help guests learn about the beers they're tasting. Food will be provided by Abuelo's and Washington Platform; and live, "low-key," music will start at 5pm with the last band taking the stage at 9:40pm.

Guests can purchase tickets for 3-oz tastes in batches of 10 for $10. If you really enjoy one of the beers you taste then you can purchase a full 12-oz pour for 4 tickets.

Music Lineup
5:00pm | Wonky Tonk
6:20pm | The Atriums
7:50pm | Mike Fair & the Adventure Seekers
9:40pm | Straw Boss

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