By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
EAST END - Residents in this eastern pocket of Cincinnati minutes from downtown are making it a priority this year to clean up their community as it undergoes a flurry of pricey housing construction.
Two big, longtime problems are junk vehicles and construction dust or mud cluttering the street, soiling vehicles, they complain. But the longest-running sticking point is the honeysuckle growing along the Ohio River behind the Leblond Community Center and park.
AT A GLANCE
White: 87 percent
Black: 7 percent
Hispanic: 2 percent
Avg. household income: $45,631
Poverty rate: 20 percent
Occupied housing units: 1,138
Vacant housing units: 181
Home ownership rate: 49.6 percent
Source: 2000 U.S. Census/includes part of Linwood
The weed was planted to stabilize the riverbanks but has grown out of control, especially in warmer months.
"It makes the whole neighborhood look dingy and dirty," said Girts Kruze, treasurer of the East End Area Council, at a recent neighborhood meeting. "It's just nasty."
"It's high time these things leave," said Brian Breneman, president of the East End Area Council. "This wouldn't be allowed to continue up on Observatory Avenue in Hyde Park and it shouldn't be allowed in the East End."
Residents were urged by Cincinnati Police Officer Kathy Horn, the East End's neighborhood officer, to report junk cars and builders or anyone else who litters.
Meanwhile, work on the honeysuckle problem along about 1,500 feet of riverfront property behind the community center and park is coming soon, Cincinnati park officials pledge.
"The park is about the closest thing to a community area we have," Breneman said. "We don't have a square. We don't have a retail district. We would like the view of the river restored."
The Cincinnati Park Board plans to spend $40,000 removing the honeysuckle, other brush and sprucing up the area. The first phase will begin in February and will take four years.
That is too long, Breneman and other neighbors say, but park board officials counter that they must do the project in phases to keep the riverbank from collapsing.
The honeysuckle and other vegetation helps stabilize the riverbank by holding the soil in place and cannot be yanked out all at once, said Gerald Checco, superintendent of operations for the park board.
It must be done over a period of time, with low-level shrubbery gradually being planted to replace the honeysuckle, to ensure the riverbank's stability, he stressed.
Last week, his staff discovered about 10 feet of riverbank is about to collapse where residents have cleared the honeysuckle on their own, he said.
"That's why you clear a little bit and plant and wait before you go to the next area," he said. "As soon as you cut that out, you allow the water to dig into the hill and erode the bank."
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