Saturday, April 21, 2001

Meeting on river is first step

Area leaders trade ideas on water projects

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        About 90 community leaders set out from Coney Island aboard BB Riverboats' River Queen Friday to discuss ideas on riverfront projects.

        The meeting brought together legislators, project organizers, conservationists, business leaders and more than a few avid bicyclers. Collaborators spanned communities from Ripley, Ohio, to Rising Sun, Ind.

        For six hours, they were a captive audience as the boat crawled along the river at about two mph.

        “One of the things we felt was lacking was the knowledge of one another's work,” said Jan Rubens, program associate at the Metropolitan Growth Alliance.

        “This is sort of a first step of bringing people together (who are) active in Ohio River corridor projects.”

        Metropolitan Growth Alliance, an outgrowth of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, promotes regional thinking among the 13 counties in the Tristate.

        Michael J. Hammons, president of the Northern Kentucky regional development organization Forward Quest, said the meeting bolstered that group's River Path project in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.

        “The Ohio River is a valuable resource in Greater Cincinnati, but we don't maximize its potential,” Mr. Hammons said.

        “We have little public access to the river — very few parks and trails. ... If we can take advantage of these ideas, we can make the river an asset everyone can enjoy.”

        The passengers developed some collective goals during the marathon meeting, such as a shared list of their projects and funding sources.

        “We're not in competition with each other, but for the greater good we're going to help one another,” said Tracy Nemenz, director of tourism for the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau.

        Some participants walked away enthused about possible riverfront projects.

        “I can now go back and say there are a lot of different things happening on the Ohio River in 100 different communities,” said Chrystie Keenan, city tourism director for Maysville, Ky.

        “We have a nice riverfront that can be developed into an attraction. I think if you can get people behind you with a vision, anything is possible.”


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