Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Wednesday his proposed budget revisions will include $12 million to buy the former Wasson Way line from Norfolk Southern. That would allow the city to continue with plans for a bike/hike trail to connect several city neighborhoods.
The city reached an agreement with the railroad last year to purchase about 4.1 miles of Wasson Way for $11,757,000. That deal expires on July 31, 2016, unless the city pays to extend the purchase option. Cranley's plan means the transaction should be completed this summer.
Wasson Way is a planned 7.6 miles bike/hike path from Victory Parkway to the Little Miami Bike Trail in Newtown.
Susan Schaefer is one of many volunteers who have been working on the proposed project for several years.
"Our vision is that Wasson Way trail will be a world class urban trail that creates a vibrant hub of community activity connecting and enhancing our neighborhoods," Schaefer said.
Mayor Cranley also praised the proposal. He said it a good plan for an abandoned railroad that starts at the Xavier University campus with its own bridge across I-71.
"Is going to be, I think, a defining signature bike trail," Cranley said. "I don't know of any other city in America that has a bike trail that connects a neighborhood like Evanston and Hyde Park over a highway and a dedicated path."
The city is still seeking funding to complete the trail and it will be done in several phases as money is available. The $12 million proposed for the upcoming budget only covers purchasing the right of way. The city has received some grant funding for Phase I, which could be built next year.
Meanwhile, Mayor Cranley also announced Wednesday his budget will include $4 million for a mixed-use development in Madisonville. It will be located at the corner of Madison and Whetsel.
The Ackermann Group plans a two phase project on the seven acre site. Phase one would include 200 apartments, 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 15,000 sq. ft. of office space and 440 parking spaces. Phase II would include additional apartments and retail space.
Madisonville resident Sara Sheets is pleased the plan is finally moving forward.
"We're happy to share that our long awaited dream of a vibrant, active, pulsing neighborhood business district with hundreds of new housing units, new retail and office space is another step closer to reality," Sheets said.
The project is being financed with developer equity, private financing, a city grant for public improvements and federal New Market tax credits.
A mayor's office press release also said redevelopment would also include expanding the city's Cann health clinic into unoccupied space within the existing Madisonville Shopping Center.
Mayor Cranley has been announcing neighborhood development projects this week that he plans to include in his budget proposal that will be sent to city council.
City Manager Harry Black presented his spending plan last week, and Cranley has 14 days to make changes before sending it to council.
Residents can offer comment during three public hearing starting next week. The schedule:
- June 2 – Oakley Recreation Center – 6pm
- June 6 – Reds Urban Baseball Academy – 6pm
- June 7 – College Hill Recreation Center – 6pm