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HILLTOP PRESS

Your Community Press newspaper serving College Hill, Finneytown, Forest Park, Greenhills, Mount Airy, Mount Healthy, North College Hill, Seven Hills, Springfield Township

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2015

75¢ BECAUSE COMMUNITY MATTERS

Forest Park council asks for 5.75 mills in May Levy won’t add firefighters By Jennie Key jkey@communitypress.com

Forest Park City Council wants voters to approve a 5.75mill fire levy on the May 5 primary ballot. Council took its first step toward the ballot at a special meeting Jan. 12, voting 6-0 to put

the additional 5.75-mill levy on the ballot in May. A 5.75-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated additional $201.25 per year and would generate about $1.725 million more each year for the fire service. City officials cautioned that these are estimates. Forest Park Deputy Finance Director Andrew Levandusky says the city estimates that additional income will drop over time, assuming property values

continue to drop. The projections assume about a 5 drop percent each year. “We have to make those kinds Hodges of assumptions in our planning budget,” he said. The Hamilton County Auditor’s Office will certify the millage amounts before the final resolution to put the levy on the ballot is passed and sent on to

the Hamilton County Board of Elections. City Manager Ray Hodges said the proposed new levy does not provide funds for adding firefighters to the department. “This will allow us to continue current levels of service,” he said. Hodges says the city has a 9.7-mill fire levy in place, passed in 2008. He says without additional funds, the current level of operations cannot be sustained through 2016. The cur-

rent fire levy generates about $2.9 million annually. Hodges says other revenue for the fire fund is about $600,000. The deadline to put this additional fire levy on the May 5 ballot is Wednesday, Feb. 4, which is 90 days prior to the election. Forest Park Mayor Chuck Johnson said the city plans to have public hearings to help inform the public but no dates have been set. Council planned to vote on a second resolution Jan. 20.

Director: ICRC remains ‘relevant’ in changing world By Sheila Vilvens svilvens@communitypress.com

JENNIE KEY/THE COMMUNITY PRESS

Workers were undeterred by cold weather in December and continued working on a new performance stage in Mount Healthy’s City Park.

Mt. Healthy park project underway By Jennie Key jkey@communitypress.com

Mount Healthy’s City Park improvement is on target and this summer, residents will be able to enjoy entertainment in the park on a new entertainment stage. The city had to revamp its plans for the park when bids for planned improvements came in for more than the $100,000 Community Development Block grant received for the project. The grant money comes from the federal community development block grant program and is distributed through Hamilton County to local governments. Local governments submitted their list of project requests to the Hamilton County Community Block Grant program, then the Hamilton County Board of County Commis-

MOCK TURTLE SOUP Rita shares soup recipes A5

sioners conducted a hearing and will decide allocations to community projects. Hamilton County’s entitlement through the program were expected to be about $2.5 million per year. City Manager Bill Kocher said plans initial called for an 18hole mini golf course, skate park elements, a Kocher bandstand and stage, new walkways, a sound system, security system, new landscaping and lighting at City Park. The city applied for a CDB grant for the improvements in the last round of funding and was awarded $100,000. The grant wouldn’t stretch to cover all everything officials would like in the plan, so now, the city’s approaching its park improvement in phases.

Right now, Kocher says city is building the stage for the bandstand, which he says will lay the foundation for future improvements. The next improvements would include lighting, speakers, a public address system and a covering or shell for the concert/performance area, concrete paths for easier mobility, landscaping, and general park improvements. “This will give us a chance to live with the stage this summer, and see how things work before doing the next phase,” he said. “I think it will help us decide what will work best. Do we want a permanent covering for the stage area? Do the pine trees need to be moved? We’ll know better after we’ve seen the stage in use this summer.” The city’s waiting to hear whether it receives additional funding in the next round of Development Community

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Block Grants. Council approved adding $110,000 for the fifth phase of the Mount Healthy Park improvement to its request for the next three-year funding round.

ABOUT CITY PARK The main entrance to the park is on McMakin Street between Perry Street and Joseph Street. The top level of the park is the home of the Mount Healthy Historical Society and the Veterans Memorial. The second level features the pool and bathhouse, concession stand, children’s playground and the Gazebo, where summer concerts take place. The third level of the park has playing fields that many adult and youth groups use for baseball, softball, soccer and football programs. The playing fields are surrounded by a .3mile walking track.

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As the revenue stream for many communities in Greater Cincinnati continue to shrink, ways to cut costs remain under the microscope. Services such as community access television are being scrutinized like never before with some communities eliminating or reducing the service. One of the oldest and largest providers of community access television in the Cincinnati area is the Intercommunity Cable Commission Regulatory (ICRC). With these looming financial challenges and significant changes in the way people communicate via social media, we asked ICRC Executive Director Brad Stapleton a few questions about the history and future of community access television, specifically ICRC. He provided these responses via email. Background on ICRC – when and how did you begin? “The ICRC was started in the early 1980s by a forward thinking Sharonville council member named Aaron Mackey. This was when cable television was first coming to the area and the idea was that by negotiating as a large group, rather than small individual suburban communities, they could attract a larger, more state-of-the-art cable system. The result of that was the 60-channel, state-of-the-art, two wire, interactive Qube cable system from Warner Amex. After the system was built, some of the communities decided to pool their resources to fund and program the community access channels. The ICRC first began producing programs in 1986. “The ICRC is a prime examSee ICRC, Page A2 Vol. 77 No. 49 © 2015 The Community Press ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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