Monday, September 29, 1997
Give your riverfront views

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Somebody may be bulldozing the idea of putting Cincinnati's playpen on the riverfront.

''Just say no to a riverfront 3-D theater, cinema complex, crummy stores and bars. Just say yes to a park.'' - Ralph Williams, Oakley.

''Extend the Serpentine Wall and Sawyer Point Park along the riverfront. Forget about an entertainment district that can disintegrate into a bunch of cheap T-shirt shops.'' - Marge Georgin, Delhi.

''If they build all that stupid entertainment stuff on the river, they might as well put in some wild animals to go along with the rest of the circus.'' - Bill Justice, College Hill.

''City Hall's turning a deaf ear to the people - as usual.'' - Esther Marshwell, Walnut Hills.

She added she's ''so frustrated about putting all this junk on the riverfront I could scream.''

Esther's not the only one. Readers continue to vent their frustration over a planned riverfront entertainment district.

Plans for the fun factory on the river were proposed during a Sept. 15 town meeting at City Hall. The public was invited to listen to the presentation and then respond.

A recent column invited all concerned citizens to the meeting.

This was a chance to tell our employees - council members and other City Hall types whose salaries our taxes pay - what we want on the riverfront.

My advice was: Demand the best. Don't settle for a trendy entertainment district that can quickly turn tacky. Insist upon an impressive riverfront whose signature design will make us proud. We own the land. And the microphones at City Hall. So speak up.

The people jammed council chambers. But they didn't get to speak until the bureaucrats had had their say - which they said with their backs to the public. By then, the meeting was two hours and 30 minutes old.

It's not nice to make your bosses wait.

Missed manners

That shabby treatment triggered a column questioning city council's manners and its interest in hearing what the people had to say. More calls followed.

''This mess is why I'm glad I don't live in Cincinnati.'' - Jon Warfield, Florence.

''Never expect those jerks at City Hall to listen to the people. They haven't listened to anyone in 30 years.'' - Andrew Moss, East Walnut Hills.

''Someone who's party to spending half a billion bucks on a football stadium is not going to give the time of day to the little guy.'' - Albert Lewis, Bridgetown.

That attitude is why the same column called for the establishment of an ad hoc city-county citizens advisory committee. This would give the riverfront's planning process a much-needed dose of reality.

Bob Bigley of Mount Lookout applauded the idea of such a committee. But it needs, he wrote, a ''rotating membership - people who are truly committed to represent vigorously the broad spectrum of public input.''

Then there were these encouraging words from a Mount Healthy reader who wishes to remain nameless:

''When you have Larry, Curly and Moe at the Hamilton County Commissioners' office and Cinderella and the seven dwarfs at the Cincinnati City Hall, you can bet when you are an old man, they will still be discussing the riverfront.''

Town Meeting II

Good thing I'm not a betting man. That masked fax sender was right. We're all getting older. Meanwhile, they're still talking about the riverfront.

The discussion continues at 7 tonight at another public hearing on the riverfront. This time, it's in the Jewish Community Center, 1580 Summit Road.

Councilman Dwight Tillery initiated this second town meeting. He sees it as ''an apology to the people for the way we treated them at the last hearing.''

For this town meeting, he promises the bureaucrats ''will face the public, not turn their backs on them.''

He swears on a stack of Year 2000 plans that the bureaucrats' portion of the meeting will be ''brief.''

How brief?

''Half an hour.''

Let's hold him to that.

And if the bureaucratic birds start to go overtime, clip their wings. Or, at the very least, their microphone cords.

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.

RADEL ARCHIVE