Presentation and Q&A, Closing a Portion of Urwiler Ave

Representatives of the Westwood Coalition and the City of Cincinnati Department of Traffic & Engineering will be on hand Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the parlor at Westwood Town Hall to speak again exclusively to the proposed closing of the short section of Urwiler Ave between Harrison Ave and Epworth Ave. Note that this is an information sharing and listening session. It is not a hearing. We will start with the proposal and the process that led the Coalition to this recommendation. Then we will address a number of questions that were raised by neighbors. Then we will open it up to questions. We will end not later than 8:30 pm.

Concept E: Park & Triangle Plans

Thanks to the many Westwood residents who have offered comments on the conceptual drawings for Westwood Town Hall Park and Gaines Triangle. This has been very helpful to the Cincinnati Parks and the design team at MKSK. Westwood residents serving on the Coalition and its member organizations as well as the local residents on the Parks steering committee for the project have been reading all the input and welcome more. Let the Westwood Coalition know what you think of the latest plan, Concept E, pictured here.  There is great enthusiasm for the overall plan for the park grounds and the Gaines Triangle at Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler. Respondents appreciate the cohesion that is emerging for the business district, the improved pedestrian and vehicular safety, the event space, playscapes, and landscaping. People like the opportunities for public art, for attending to the historic nature of the property, and the linkages between spaces. Take a good look and tell us what works especially well and where you think adjustments might be needed. The planning process is nearing completion, with another meeting with Parks and the Coalition on Thursday, August 4 and a presentation to the Park Board soon thereafter.

Perspective, Westwood Town Hall Park, Concept E

Perspective, Westwood Town Hall Park, Concept E

Concept D for Town Hall Park and Gaines Triangle

Thanks to input received from area residents, MKSK, the landscape architect at work on plans for this project, has developed Concept D. The Westwood Coalition continues to invite your comments as refinements are made. Here are some questions in which we particularly are interested:

  • Which design elements are the most favorable to you?
  • Do you like the notion of imaginative, creative playscapes?
  • With this redesign, what can you imagine happening at the Town Hall Park in terms of programming?
  • Would you like to see a water feature? What type? For what purpose?
  • Do permanently placed urban games appeal to you and, if so, where do they make the most sense?
  • What factors would help to distinguish the link between Gaines Triangle and Town Hall Park?
  • Is the dog park desirable and well-situated?
  • Are the specially marked pedestrian crosswalks at Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler a good idea? Do you have comments on paving material?
  • When you imagine public art as part of the design, what do you imagine or hope for?
  • And, of course, we’re eager to hear your other general and specific comments.

We welcome your comments about Concept D through any representative to the Coalition or to MKSK or to the Coalition’s general email address over the next few weeks.

Community Input on Town Hall Park Design Ideas

The Westwood Coalition for the Revitalization of the Historic Business District cordially invites you to a community meeting on Monday, May 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the parlor of Westwood Town Hall so we can learn more from Cincinnati Parks about initial design ideas for the Westwood Town Hall park grounds and offer input. We will also briefly address plans for the intersection of Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler, infrastructure, generally, and the evolving work of branding and positioning the historic neighborhood business district. If you cannot attend, you will find a summary and images on this website next week.

Priorities for the NBD and for the Coalition’s Member Organizations

Westwood Coalition members and the boards of the organizations that make up the Coalition met on July 7, 2015 with four purposes:

  1. Very briefly share each organization’s purpose or scope and a high level look at its current focus, goals, and objectives
  2. Briefly highlight each organization’s assets
  3. Identify tasks that should happen in the near future to move forward with the revitalization of the historic neighborhood business district
  4. Identify possible cross-organizational, task-oriented groups to work on the tasks and bring their recommendations to the Coalition

Here is a brief summary of each organization’s purpose and areas of focus as well as their identified assets, as described by heads of the various groups. These notes are not comprehensive. Any questions should be directed to the organization’s leadership.

Westwood Historical Society

Westwood Historical Society is focused on education and research regarding Westwood’s history. It seeks to uncover local history. Its membership includes many people who don’t live in Westwood. While it researches buildings, it is not renovation-oriented. It has a newsletter and presents programming regularly. Westwood Historical offers a home tour every two years and has been engaged in projects related to the Bell Building and the Gamble House. Its assets include the deep, collective knowledge of WHS members; its ties to Westwood people, buildings, and history, along with its connections to the broader community of people and organizations interested in Cincinnati and other local history; and its wealth of historical information and archives about the past of the historic business district and Westwood, generally.

WestCURC

Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is business- and development-focused. It is engaged in the nuts and bolts of the neighborhood business district redevelopment, including the recent City approval a community entertainment district. Another project is related to property acquisition and redevelopment on Bracken Woods Lane.  WestCURC has a depth of knowledge and experience in technical matters, provides consultation for area businesses, and works to align resources and people.  Its assets include strong, effective communication with city offices and local organizations, skill in networking and process, a deep understanding of the city’s processes and mechanisms, grant writing, and community engagement.

Westwood Civic Association

WCA is Westwood’s community council, representing the concerns of Westwood to the city and providing a forum for discussion of neighborhood issues. It reviews zoning and building code issues and offers input on variances and liquor applications. It takes a lead on public safety issues and communicates about local happenings. It is currently focusing its attention on outreach and membership growth, reformatting its newsletter and developing policy around communications, providing input on the land development code, zoning and building code violations, chronic nuisance and public safety, and reviewing its bylaws. Assets include a long-standing focus on civic responsibility, public safety, zoning, beautification, and serving as a voice for the neighborhood.  It has strengths in grant writing, relationships and networking with the city, marketing & design, data analysis and project management, and the community gardens and other beautification.

Westwood Works

Westwood Works is a connector, seeking to connect passion, resources, and people. Works is  an asset–based community development organization that celebrates the Westwood community. It advocates for a positive, collaborative, and meaningful approach to community building. Works is known for its leadership in events and celebrations like the beer gardens, Westwood Art Show, and Deck the Hall. It is also strong in information sharing and promotion of other Westwood organizations and events.  Westwood Works recently hired an executive director to leads its fundraising efforts.  Works’ current areas of focus include activating the grounds of Westwood Town Hall with programming and bringing people together by building, organizing, and connecting. It’s sometimes referred to as the “gateway drug” to community engagement in Westwood.

Identified Tasks

Groups of participants identified a number of tasks related to historic neighborhood business revitalization: tasks appropriate to local people and their talents and tasks that are reasonable to accomplish, at least in part, in the coming year. The identified areas of focus are listed here. Next, the Coalition will refine the task list and review the names of people suggested for engagement in this work and will contact them in the coming month. We also welcome suggestions and self-nominations. Just email us. We will also ask if anyone is working on any of the tasks already, if anyone has information relevant to the task, and how to facilitate information amongst the groups.

  1. Develop a shared master calendar and a plan for the promotion of Westwood events (already in progress)
  2. Develop a plan for the strategic placement of events and develop plans for several new events in the historic business district, including Westwood Town Hall.
  3. Conduct a market study and steps related to phase 1 activation. Expand the catalog of sites in the historic business district, noting current zoning for each and any opportunities.
  4. Develop the narrative, a brand, and a marketing/media strategy for the historic neighborhood business district. Share existing Welcome to Westwood information for new residents.  Once branded, create a banner to promote the business district.
  5. Develop an outreach plan for the business district, for connections with business owners, investors, churches and other organizations, and realtors.
  6. Develop an infrastructure plan for the historic business district to address lighting, sidewalks, and streetscape, public safety, town hall grounds, play space, clean up and beautification, and free wifi.

We will post more information about these focused task groups as they are refined and established. Thank you for your interest at the Westwood Coalition, its represented organizations and businesses, and engaged residents take the neighborhoods priorities and vision and give them life to revitalize Westwood’s historic neighborhood business district.

Westwood Revitalization on WVXU Today

WVXU 91.7’s Cincinnati Edition will feature a conversation today about Westwood’s revitalization and, specifically, Polk Laffoon IV’s Cincinnati Magazine March 2015 article, “Cracking the Code.” The 1:30 pm interview and call-in show will feature Mr. Laffoon and WestCURC board president John Lewandowski discussing the article and the recent efforts in Westwood to redevelop the historic business district based on residents’ input.

Listen to the recorded program at http://wvxu.org/post/revitalization-westwood-under-way-our-guests-share-how-happening

From WVXU’s website:

The revitalization of Westwood is under way & our guests show how that is happening.

Cracking the Code: Cincinnati Magazine, March 2015

Cracking the Code: Cincinnati Magazine, March 2015

Westwood Square in Mayor’s State of City Address

In his State of the City address on September 18, 2014, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley remarked on the advantages of public-private enterprise at Smale Riverfront Park downtown, and its success, and offered a vision for a beer pavilion on the grounds of Westwood Town Hall facing the Westwood Square that is currently being considered.

Residents of Westwood who’ve engaged in deliberation about the revitalization of the historic business district know well that (1) places to socialize with neighbors are high on the list of desirables, (2) the Westwood Square will mark our center and encourage people to see what Westwood’s neighborhood business district has to offer, and (3) Town Hall and the businesses and organizations it faces are landmarks and treasures. As residents have been discussing in Westwood, we want a plan for the Square that has Harrison-Epworth-Urwiler as its focal point, our Main+Main, and that anchors this area surrounded by neighborhood assets like Town Hall, Madcap Puppets, Henke Winery, and area churches. We want something that is reflective of Westwood’s history and style. The Mayor’s proposal, pictured here, will certainly be explored. Comments? Post here!

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