Community

Transforming Downtown Loveland: Rough Draft

Google Image

Google Image

On Monday April 1, 2019 Yard and Company, the firm hired to create a Master Plan for Downtown Loveland, unveiled the first draft of their ideas. The downtown today will look completely different if fully implemented. This plan will transform the City of Loveland.

Click here to listen to our latest podcast - Master Plan, Rough Draft. We discuss the proposed ideas on redevelopment, what is necessary to achieve the ideas and whether there was meaningful discussion with the community and their suggestions. We also ask the question - just because we can transform downtown, should we?

Teaser Alert - One of the suggestions is the redevelopment of City Hall into a three or four story building.

The next Loveland City Council meeting will be Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 7pm at City Hall. Loveland is changing, be sure to come and let your voice be heard.

Sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland.  We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com.

Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - Founder & CEO - Follow personally on Twitter @ lovelandpam

RD Kulik - Founder & COO - Hit him up on Twitter @ tattlerloveland

The Downtown Master Plan: Rough Draft

Google Image

Google Image

On March 18th, 2019, The Loveland City Council held an Emergency Meeting in order to see a presentation from Yard and Company on the city’s downtown master plan. (The plan can be found starting on page 12 of the 3-26 City Council packet - read it here) The presentation was based on Yard and Company’s outreach to “brand drivers”, and other groups associated with downtown Loveland. The plan presents objectives to be reached in 0-3 years, 3-5 years, and 10+ years.

Today we will focus on the 0-3 year objectives, since this is where we will see near immediate action once the plan is approved by the City Council. We will take ten topics, break them apart into three sections, Proposal - Can/Should City Pursue Idea - Will it get done. We do want to remind everyone that the presentation from Yard and Company is labeled “for discussion purposes only.” The final plan may change.

One more thing. On April 1st, at 6pm Yard and Company will have a public showing of their conceptual plan for Downtown Loveland. The meeting will take place at the building behind Magnolias in Downtown Loveland. It is our understanding that this will not be a traditional meeting where the public will get to ask questions to the larger group. There will be people from Yard and Company, and maybe a few Loveland City Council members, there to field questions or concerns.

Lets break it down. 

1) Changing W. Loveland from Loveland Madeira Road to Karl Brown Way.

Proposal:

W. Loveland goes from two lanes before Loveland Maderia, and changes to four lanes for a few blocks until it goes back to being two lanes at Karl Brown Way. Numerous plans are presented to make that stretch of W Loveland 2 or 3 lanes with a variety of ideas on adding bike lanes and parking areas.

 Can/Should it be done:

We believe this is a good idea. Traffic should be slowed a little bit in those few blocks. It will also help cut down on confusion, aka backed up traffic, between Loveland Maderia and Karl Brown Way.

 Will it get done:

Very high likelihood this will happen. It is a good idea and the cost could be minimal. No new pavement would need to be created and no front yards/sidewalks would need to come out. This will probably happen.

 2) Fixing problems at the train trestle on Karl Brown Way near the Linda Cox Parking Lot.

The Proposal:

The idea to add a laser powered warning system and then eventually lower the road by two additional feet have been proposed.

 Can/Should it be done:

According to a report commissioned by the city, separate from the Downtown Master Plan, Loveland is currently doing more than required about the low clearance under the train trestle. The new warning system may not fix the problem, and it will cost money. Lowering the road is very expensive, and somewhat pointless due to the road already being in the flood plain. Being two feet lower could make the area a major hazard.

Will it get done:

Very high likelihood that the laser system will happen, the lowering of the road seems to be low likelihood. The City Manager has already stated that he wants to pursue the laser system. The wheels were put in motion before the Downtown Plan has been completed. As for lowing the road? That idea costs a lot of money and may cause more problems than the one it is supposed to solve due to the increased risk of flooding.

 3) Fixing the parking issues in downtown through valet services, and better access to underutilized parking areas.

The Proposal:

Through the creation of an employee lot on E Loveland, the implementation of various valet options, and the creation of a parking management system, Downton Loveland can use the parking available to ease the stress on those who live, work, and play in Downtown Loveland.

 Can/Should it be done:

According to Yard and Company, downtown has plenty of parking, it is just not being utilized. People want to park where it is convenient, and that is not often the case downtown. Finding ways to make the parking seem more convenient, without throwing down more pavement for lots, is a win for everyone. Also, the cost would be minimal.

 Will it get done:  

Unknown if this will happen. Businesses should be the driving force behind valet services, they are the ones that will benefit. When it comes to parking management, the city commissioned a study a few years ago. Use that.

 4) Make the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance the group who handles the marketing and program planning for downtown.

The Proposal:

This will make one group responsible for selling downtown Loveland to those that may want to work, play, or live in the area.

Can/Should it be done:

Who else was considered? When it comes to taxpayer’s money, should we not have multiple groups present their expertise so Loveland gets the best people for the best price?

Will it get done:

This will happen because it is already happening. The Little Miami River Chamber Alliance has been handling all city events since the Mayor Bailey majority took over. Being in the Downtown plan just solidifies this relationship in the eyes of future councils.   

5) Riverfront cleanup and activation.

The Proposal:

Make the Little Miami river more accessible to views and activities in the downtown district by clearing away trees and brush.

 Can/Should it be done:

The riverfront could use a nice facelift. The riverfront is also owned by the State of Ohio, not the City of Loveland. Many businesses have been trying to achieve this goal for years, with very little success. Were they consulted by the people creating the Downtown Master Plan? 

 Will it get done:

Very unlikely this will happen in the short term. This is a process that will require more than pictures, it will require a robust lobbying effort at the statehouse in Columbus. Will the city lobby the state, or will the businesses need to make their own efforts? Either way it will require strategic planning and a professional organization to implement the plan. That means money.

 6) An increase in year-round family activities.

The Proposal:

The majority of activities in downtown Loveland, especially since the creation of an event driven DORA, seem to revolve around adult activities like drinking. We should do more to make Downtown more inviting for families.

 Can/Should it be done:

We absolutely need to find more opportunities to bring families downtown. If there was a family friendly venue right off the bike trail, something like an arcade or parlor games themed facility, families would visit the district for more than bike riding and kayaking. Even if bikes and boats was their main purpose, families may stay longer downtown and spend money if the whole family is being served.

 Will it get done:

This is a toss up. The only development we have seen recently are a multitude of bars. The city council has been focused on creating outdoor drinking days at minimum once a month. The proposed plan does call for a family restaurant/bar. What is that? Some kind of Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag type destination? Does that sound family friendly?

 7) Swim Hole.

The Proposal:

This seems to be some kind of half man half nature created swimming area on the Little Miami River.

 Can/Should it be done:

What is this? Is it necessary? Will it be used? Maybe, but we need a whole lot more explanation of the swim hole concept, and why it works, before we pass judgment. Know that this is one of our biggest questions for the April 1st meeting.

 Will it get done:

We have no idea if this is going to happen. Again, what is this thing?

 8) WiFi throughout Downtown Loveland.

The Proposal:

A city wide downtown WiFi network that is free for anyone who lives, works, and plays in Loveland.

 Can/Should it be done:

Having a free WiFi network in a city was a good idea, a few years ago. We are already seeing the telecom companies roll out 5G, the next generation of cellular/wireless communications. Every municipality should be focusing on 5G because it is the framework for the smart cities of tomorrow. Strong free WiFi coverage is a pleasant leftover from 5G.

 Will it get done:

This will happen because it is easy, and unnecessary. 5G requires new micro cell towers, and a whole bunch of them, to create the framework for a smart city. 5G is already being implemented across the world. Loveland needs to be proactive and be ready to assist with the roll out of 5G in our area. That should be the focus instead of creating a downtown WiFi district.

9) Development on private property.

The Proposal:

A big portion of the downtown master plan looks at development, or redevelopment, on parcels owned by private entities.

 Can/Should it be done:

The proposed Landing, Community Center, Java Hut, and probable mixed used facilities along Karl Brown Way and the Eads fencing facility are all pieces of property not owned by the city of Loveland. When you add in the current city hall and fire station, the areas targeted for development have many owners. Who will take control of these parcels, will potential developers be turned away because their private dollars do not match the public plan. This part of the plan has many unknown variables attached to it.

 Will it get done:

There is likely no way we will see the full completion of the Downtown Master Plan when it comes to all the proposed development. There are way too many private property owners to see this plan reach it’s conclusion. If the city goes in to buy these parcels, we are looking at in excess of tens of millions of dollars from the city taxpayers. If the plan is narrow on its interpretation of development on private property, many developers may look for a more accommodating community. This part of the plan looks more like “I want to do” than I will do.

 10) Create design guidelines for the downtown district.

The Proposal:

This looks familiar to the early historic district proposed by the Historic Design Review Committee in 2018. The committee elected to scrap that plan and start over.

 Can/Should it be done:

Not only does the proposal from Yard and Company suggest to “develop downtown conservation district design guidelines”, but in the 3-5 year plan they suggest to create Loveland Avenue Design Guidelines on the other side of the Little Miami River. With the large amount of private property, and people’s homes, design guidelines tend to not go over well.

Will it get done:

It is unlikely this will ever get done. The Historic Design Review Committee already tried this in 2018, and it was met with push back from the public. The committee ended up electing a new secretary and scraping all of their previous plans. When you add in the large number of private home owners on W Loveland, it will be very difficult to get buy in for a universal design code. Council members need to be elected, it is political poison to tell private property owners what they can and cannot do.

 Conclusion 

At first glance we can see that this plan will transform downtown Loveland. We are not talking about developing on city owned property, we are looking at a completely new Downtown Loveland.

We should remind everyone that this version of the Downtown Master Plan is a rough draft, and our analysis should be treated the same. We were somewhat engaged in the discovery process conducted by Yard and Company, but we were not fully engaged.

The early version of the Downtown Plan looks visionary, but seems unattainable due to the extremely high cost of creating new roads, obtaining privately held property, and creating amenities we may or may not need in the downtown area (i.e. the community center). The Mayor Bailey majority told us that this was going to be a community driven master plan, but when we look at this rough draft it does not seem to be community driven. There are throwaway lines about family friendly activities and community technology, but none of it is taken seriously. Meanwhile, the elevation of the chamber alliance and the catering to the farmers market seems to be in line with the Mayor Bailey majority helping their friends at the expense of the community at large.

When we see this rough draft, it is obvious that this is not a community driven plan, it looks more like a crony driven plan. Maybe the April 1st event will give us all more clarity.

Sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland.  We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com.

Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - Founder & CEO - Follow personally on Twitter @ lovelandpam

RD Kulik - Founder & COO - Hit him up on Twitter @ tattlerloveland

Loveland - What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Google Image

Google Image

Transparency, Accountability, Public Engagement - powerful words and we hear them a lot from politicians especially at election time. When Kent Blair was appointed to the vacant council seat he stated “I am a strong supporter of accountability of elected officials to the people they serve, an expectation of inclusion - Loveland should stand for all residents, not the few who lead it.” However, once they are in office do they govern as promised? Is the new council majority led by Mayor Kathy Bailey delivering on this committment of openness and inclusion?

Listen to our latest podcast - click here - where we discuss these questions and the actions of our elected ( and un-elected) representatives.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

What Is Bike Shedding?

Google Image

Google Image

Bikes, sheds, what the heck are you talking about?

According to Wikipedia, the term bike-shed effect or bike-shedding was coined as a metaphor to illuminate the law of triviality. Bike-shedding is when time and energy is spent disproportionately on trivial matters. Does the Loveland City Council majority engage in the practice of bike shedding?

Listen to our latest podcast - click here - where we discuss this issue and give examples of council members actions and questions related to decisions that impact our community.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

Downtown Master Plan - Process Begins

google image

google image

The Master Plan process is beginning. The first meeting of the downtown planning committee will be held tomorrow evening - November 5, 2018, 6pm at City Hall. Click here for agenda ( p1-14) . Click here ( p15-33)

Eye On Loveland has been following the decision of the current council to spend $128K of taxpayer money to fund another Master Plan. Listen to our podcast to hear our thoughts on the issue.

Stay tuned for future developments and information. We encourage everyone to attend this meeting and learn more about the decision making process that will affect all of us who live, work and play in Loveland, OH.

Loveland is Changing - Be A Part Of It. Let your Voice Be Heard.

We would love to hear what you have to say so send us an email at eyeonloveland@gmail.com. Please follow us on twitter @eyeonloveland and facebook at eyeonloveland. Be sure to sign up to receive regular updates and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes,apple.com - eyeonloveland.

 Eyeonloveland.com - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential.

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam

Original Post from August 7, 2018

Albert Einstein is credited with saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. It seems that Loveland City Council doesn’t think Mr. Einstein is correct since they recently voted to spend $128K of taxpayer’s money on yet another Comprehensive Plan. See Attached

As a business owner I know the importance of planning so it is not that the city should not have a plan for development and future growth; what I am questioning is whether hiring a firm at a cost of $128K to create another master plan is the most effective and financially responsible way to achieve the cities goals.

Many in the community may not know that the city commissioned a comprehensive plan in 1993 and since that time had at least nine plans and development updates prepared and paid for with taxpayer money, see attached, one as recently as 2011. See Attached. There was also a comprehensive plan workshop, paid for by taxpayers, held in September 2015. See Attached. Some of those results were included in the current proposal and identified areas that were in most need of attention. See attached.

Most of these reports can be found on some shelf in city hall. Which leads me to the question, why are we paying to have another report prepared that will most likely have the same recommendations as the others? Why is the primary focus of this "new" master plan, downtown Loveland? The above mentioned map shows this area as stable and in transition. Instead of spending additional taxpayer money, why are we not looking at the previous plans? Why don’t we review the reports, what was accomplished, what wasn’t and why and then update the ideas based on current needs. Why do a replication of what we’ve already paid for many times over?  Don’t you think it is time we try something new and different, something that will produce actual results? 

We should look at how Over-the-Rhine and other communities were redeveloped. It was through a private citizen and stakeholder group – 3CDC that invigorated downtown Cincinnati. These types of organizations developed a strategic plan, a vision that was created by business owners, residents and experts in development, not a committee created by the government, made up of members of a connected political group or officials beholden to elections.

In these days of tight budgets, it is more important than ever that planning dollars be spent as productively as possible. Sadly, Mayor Bailey, Vice-Mayor Weisgerber, Councilman Ted Phelps, Tim Butler, Kent Blair and Neil Oury voted to spend $128K of taxpayer’s money on another comprehensive plan that is likely to join the others on the city hall book shelf.

Listen to our podcast – New Dust for New Master Plan - to hear more about this discussion. 

eyeonloveland.org - Be Informed. Be Involved. Be Influential 

Follow us on Twitter @eyeonloveland, like us on Facebook @eyeonloveland and send us a message at eyeonloveland@gmail.com 

Pamela Gross - President - Follow me on Twitter @ lovelandpam