Spring has seemingly finally sprung in Loveland. This weekend should see a large influx of people enjoying the bike trail, Cappy's porch, Narrow Path's outdoor area, and any number of places around the Little Miami River that cater to the outdoors. Loveland Canoe and Kayak is getting ready for the season, along with hourly bike rentals from Montgomery Cyclery and the Loveland Bike Rental. Very soon we will see the grand re-opening of Tano Bistro along with a new exciting business in the building on the corner of West Loveland and Karl Brown Way. The outdoor splendor of Loveland is about to be on display, and the people who live, work, and play in our great city will be able to brag once again about how awesome the the best part of Ohio's heart of it all actually is.
The thing is that all those businesses mentioned were either founded, experienced great growth, or were reborn under the last council administration. The 2017 municipal elections featured a lot of talk about how recent develop was hurting Loveland, and the politicians who were supported by the anti-develop group(s) won seats on the council. It is true that Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber, formerly Mayor Weisgerber, was the lead in deciding on the location, developer, and look of Loveland Station. The election never made mention of former Mayor Weisgerber's instrumental role in Loveland Station, but hey hindsight is 20/20 and all that. The former Mayor should be proud though, Loveland Station is an economic gem to the city, at least once all the hidden problems were solved that is. But the issue today is that the fact is without Loveland Station, the new council has yet to approve any new positive economic development.
What has the new council done? For starters, Mayor Kathy Bailey made the city rejoin the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance. The council goals voted on, and approved in a 5-1 vote at the March 27th meeting, made sure to include the Loveland City School Board in any economic decisions relating to city owned property. The Chamber Alliance and the Loveland City School Board does not just represent the taxpayers of Loveland. The school district reaches into neighboring communities, and the Chamber deliberately became an alliance that represents businesses including, but not limited, to Loveland. This is who Mayor Bailey wants to align with, people who have interest in Loveland, but also have interests outside of the city? It should be noted that Mayor Bailey has at least six council members on her side to vote how ever she wishes them to vote. Loveland is not a city of collaborative governance, we are a city that can be ruled by decree. Who is in charge of our tax dollars?
If one were to look at the neighboring communities, things look good. Miami Township is booming, new businesses and homes are going up at a rapid rate. Symmes township is seeing new development, and reinvestment into legacy businesses, on par with the national recovery. What about Loveland?
Once again, all of those great businesses mentioned at the top, all part of the Mayor Mark Fitzgerald era. The improvements to Tano, and the neighboring Bishop building, all of that happened under the last council. I know because I was at the Planning and Zoning meetings that approved the plans for the buildings. The only new development project brought to the new council was a residential neighborhood. After tons of work by City Manager Dave Kennedy, the project was kicked back to committee. After years of growth and success, Loveland is most definately in an economic malaise.
Why does this council accept this malaise as our neighbors grow? It was celebrated that the city rejoined the chamber alliance, but what has this economic alliance done for the taxpayers of Loveland. The other municipalities in the alliance are thriving, why is Loveland the only entity experiencing a malaise? The Loveland City School Board depends on property taxes for their sustainability, why would they accept the malaise in Loveland? These questions, along with many others, need to be asked.
There is no debate that Loveland is falling behind it's neighbors when it comes to economic development. The new council majority said that they could do better than the Mark Fitzgerald group, yet they have proven to only stand still while everyone else grows. Again the question is why? The next and most important question is who will pay for the malaise of Loveland. We may find out sooner than we hoped for.
RD Kulik is a resident of the City of Loveland and the editor at The Loveland Tattler. Can you get us out of the malaise? Contact us on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.