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Thursday, March 4, 2004

How to restore Cincinnati's vitality


Your voice: Gary Clemens

My wife and I moved to Cincinnati five years ago and were attracted by all the city offered and the beauty of the surrounding area. We chose to live downtown and have easy access to it all. We've seen the downtown environment deteriorate significantly, but there's so much here and so much potential. Here's what I think Cincinnati needs:

• Hire more police. And make them visible downtown. Remember New York City in the 1990s? Rudy Giuliani? That's exactly where he started improving his city.

• The suburbs need to realize that they and the downtown area are one - not an expanding donut with a gigantic hole in the middle. They must be partners in a revival. Find a way to tax the suburbs and earmark the funds to improving the city. There's no advantage in allowing the "doughnut hole" to get bigger.

• City Council should prioritize nine major projects and assign one project to each council member. Each member would have to answer for his or her project, and progress updates should be required.

• Council members should be discouraged from grandstanding any issue unless they can communicate a plan for its implementation and a viable plan to fund it.

• Council meetings should be for business purposes only. Forget inviting magicians, singers and puppeteers. A public forum on Saturdays would allow anyone with an issue to present it. And stick to the script. Issuing "decrees" on global issues will not resolve problems the council members were elected to address.

• The voting public should favor council candidates who demonstrate some business acumen beyond obvious political ambition.

• The Reds and Bengals, despite their recent woes, are treasures. It would be great to see players take a more active role in promoting Cincinnati - heading a neighborhood project, holding a clinic for inner-city kids, chairing a benefit.

• Decree an annual "Clean Up Cincinnati Day" and include a huge downtown party. Solicit volunteer teams from the neighborhoods. Award prizes for the most trash picked up in each area. This would be a great way to restore neighborhood pride and get people involved.

• One whimsical thought: Erect the largest Ferris wheel in the world on the riverfront. Add the biggest or best merry-go-round to go with it. Make them year-round attractions. Find a way. Attract the kids.

Gary Clemens, a supply chain director for a Cincinnati-area manufacturer, is a former downtown resident now in Northern Kentucky.

Want your voice to be heard? Send your column or proposed topic to assistant editorial editor Ray Cooklis at rcooklis@enquirer.com; (513) 768-8525.



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