Sunday, May 9, 2004

Eats, arts, fun: suggestions for Fountain Square

In order to make Fountain Square lively and appealing, the square itself should be so welcoming and lovely that people long for somewhere to sit and "enjoy the view." Surrounding the square should be open-air cafes, wine bars and coffee shops where people can do just that.

There should be a seamless interchange between inside and out. Perhaps a "Tavern on the Green"-type restaurant could fit into the mix.

Restaurants should be family-friendly during the day, but should draw adults to the square at night with excellent, interesting food and entertainment.

Anne Pierce, Hyde Park


Art would add flavor

I would like to see outdoor art on the square. We love to celebrate our diverse heritage here. Whether museum pieces, wall hangings, sculpture or poetry, art would give the flavor of Cincinnati and make the square special.

I know we all like to celebrate our culture and ethnic identity, even if we have several. I don't want to lose that. I know art on the square would make me stop and spend some time.

Benita Tillman, Springfield Township


Light it all up

We need some excitement on the square. The world's largest Ferris wheel? Not enough space, I guess. How about a Drop Zone-style ride down the side of the Fifth Third Bank tower? Heck, I would settle for a massive video screen, like the one at Great American Ball Park, mounted over the north side of the square above where Rock Bottom Brewery is. Make it a huge one, or a series of smaller ones around the square. It could broadcast city scenes; advertise events; or run stock prices, weather, traffic conditions and whatever else you can think of. It could bring "action" to the square at all times of the day and night.

Whenever I am waiting for a light on Sixth Street headed east, I am always entertained by the moving lighted message board that wraps around the Aronoff Center.

I think bringing moving light to Fountain Square would go a long way to relieving the sterile feel down there. Think Times Square!

Rick Pouliot, Covington


Issues of access

Fountain Square could be improved by making access from the south and west sides easier, removing some of the walls that block off pedestrians. More plantings would also make it a more attractive place to visit. Once, for Oktoberfest, the fountain was surrounded by pots of mums and it was very beautiful.

One thing I think is a terrible idea is removing the skywalk. One of the nicest features of our downtown is the skywalk, which makes it easy for people on their lunch hour to run errands quickly, under cover, without having to wait at crosswalks. A lot of shops on the skywalk would be cut off and forced out of business if another piece were removed. If people can no longer do their shopping quickly and easily on their lunch hours, they will take their business to suburban malls on the evenings and weekends.

Because Fifth Third Bank owns all the buildings on the square, their cooperation in planning the ground level will be essential.

Jeanette Raptis, Wyoming


Open it up, add green

It is a shame that the city didn't buy the property that was once the Mabley & Carew building. It opened the square and allowed the sun on the square for longer times during the year. But now that we have a chance to change the square, please remove the elevations and the stage.

I did projects for the Big Pig Gig, Bats Incredible and Flower Power. I was disappointed that driving past the square you cannot "see" the square. Planters are high and hide the expanse of the area. It appears confining and devoid of grass/ground cover. It is not inviting and looks like the drab concrete on every other street.

Large rectangular reflecting ponds with seats around the ledges would give the square elegance.

My ultimate wish would send shivers down the planners' backs: Close off all Fifth Street traffic between the Westin Hotel and Fountain Square. This would open the area up and allow for grass and large reflecting ponds, and lower the level of the square to the sidewalks.

Other cities take bold steps and people learn to live with it. The square is "caged in," and to eliminate buses and traffic from that side would make a tremendous difference.

Old photos of the fountain show large grass boulevards and people coming to the fountain for water. I realize the fountain has been moved and is permanent, but it is the symbol of our city. Give it the place of elegance it deserves.

Cooki Their, Anderson Township


A sense of security

If we had a park-type ranger in a "Smokey the Bear" hat on the square night and day, it would reassure people that someone was always out there. Some people are scared to come downtown. Everybody has a downtown story, a wallet stolen or whatever. You never can get enough cops, and besides it would be better to make a clear distinction on the square between police and the "park ranger." In emergencies, the ranger could call the police.

I also think the skywalk gives us a clear competitive advantage for our convention industry.

Bob Fitzpatrick, Price Hill


Keep what's best

I would not target the redesign of Fountain Square as Cincinnati's "top redevelopment project."

I would urge that money be allocated to pay people for their ideas for programs and events on the existing square; for their ability to implement the plans, then assess them to determine their worth; for their creativity in advertising, coordinating and communicating news of events on the square beyond downtown, including Northern Kentucky; and for their enthusiasm in attracting the public to the square for fun and prizes, as well as education and sales.

Fountain Square offers endless possibilities. The area is surrounded by low walls providing seating for people to eat lunch, socialize, meditate, enjoy the outdoors or participate in events.

Redevelopment for the sake of change does not always achieve the desired results.

Marilyn Shaver, Fort Thomas

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