Green Umbrella in the News

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  • March 23, 2016 5:08 PM | Anonymous

    Source: NKY Thrives  

    As the weather gets nicer and Daylight Savings time returns, thoughts naturally turn to the great outdoors and opportunities to run, bike, play sports or simply go for a walk.
     
    And what better place is there to enjoy those outdoor activities in Northern Kentucky than a spot along the Ohio River? It’s hard to beat those views of downtown Cincinnati and surrounding hills and your access to restaurants, shops and other amenities in the riverfront towns.
     
    Those towns continue working to better connect their population centers and business districts with the Ohio River (and the Licking River), while a long-term effort to connect the towns with each other via the Riverfront Commons walking/biking trail continues as well. City and regional leaders tout the investments in connectivity a win-win for all of NKY.
     
    “We believe that enhanced public spaces and interaction with the rivers will create a sense of pride for each riverfront community and stimulate the local economy,” says Wade Johnston, Regional Trails Coordinator of Tri-State Trails for Green Umbrella, which is overseeing creation of a connected network of multi-use trails throughout the tristate region.
     
    Johnston says a key to successful development along NKY’s riverfront is creating public spaces that can accommodate community events and connect pedestrians and bike riders to surrounding residential areas.
     
    “From an economic perspective, pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to stop in a storefront and spend money, compared to a person driving by at 35 or 45 mph,” he says. “Ultimately, it benefits NKY to make the urban areas walkable and attractive to residents so more people choose to live, work and play here.”
     
    Local leaders clearly see the benefits of a connected riverfront.
     
    “Bellevue would wither and die if we weren’t connected with our neighboring communities,” Bellevue City Councilman Ryan Salzman says. “We need to keep these arteries open and the blood flowing for economic development. And connections like Riverfront Commons send a clear message to developers that we’re open to working together to get things done.”
     
    Covington City Manager Larry Klein agrees with Riverfront Commons’ connectivity goals.
     
    “We don’t want to compete with what’s across, down or up the river, we want to add to it,” Klein says. “By working collaboratively we can leverage resources between cities and states, increasing the scale of individual projects and creating a unique regional asset that’s on par with any in the country.”
     
     
    Riverfront Commons starts filling in gaps
     
    Southbank Partners has taken the lead in fulfilling a vision for one paved walking/biking trail connecting Ludlow on the western riverfront all the way to Dayton and Ft. Thomas in the east. Small sections already exist on the Newport and Dayton floodwalls, but the next few months will see lots of activity to start filling in the gaps.
     
    Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland says one of the first things people will notice is new signage touting “River Commons: Where It All Flows Together.” Signs have been fabricated and are being given to each city to use as they see fit, he says; Bellevue is the first with specific plans to deploy them this summer.
     
    “It’s an attempt to roll out the Riverfront Commons brand before we really have a finished trail,” Moreland says, noting the full 11-mile vision remains years away from completion. “The signs have a unified Riverfront Commons theme and logo but allow each city to personalize them to highlight what they want to promote.”
     
    Here’s a rundown of activity expected in the near future around building out and filling in the Riverfront Commons vision (moving west to east):
     
    • Ludlow: Moreland says that phases 1 and 2 of the trail extension into Ludlow from its Covington border are fully funded and ready to be bid for design and construction. The trail will interact with Memorial Park and Ludlow High School and connect with designated feeder streets to take walkers and bikers up the hill into Devou Park.
     
    • Covington: The city received federal and state grants last Fall to help fund a $10 million riverfront transformation, which includes connections to Riverfront Commons. See more details below under “Covington banking on ripple effect.”
     
    • Newport: The most visible construction activity on the NKY riverfront might be where Aqua on the Levee and Hampton Inn & Suites are making progress at either side of Newport on the Levee. In the same area, work begins this summer on small bridges to connect the Taylor Southgate Bridge to existing floodwall trails on both sides, allowing walkers and bikers direct access to cross the river into Cincinnati.
     
    Work also begins this summer to continue Riverfront Commons east into Bellevue by creating a paved trail along the floodwall side of Dave Cowens Drive (Route 8) under I-471. It would end in front of Joe’s Crab Shack, where Newport is finalizing plans to construct the new Taylor Creek Overlook Park.
     
    Moreland says NKY’s most important project, however, might be along the Licking River in Newport’s west end, where construction continues to extend Route 9 to the downtown riverfront. The massive project is opening 22 acres along the Licking for development, including the old Newport Steel facility and the proposed Ovation mixed use development where the Licking meets the Ohio.
     
    Completion of the full Route 9 extension is expected by Fall 2017.
     
    • Bellevue: Much of the city’s summer activity — including concerts and festivals — will happen at its riverfront park, recently renamed Thomas J. Wiethorn Memorial Beach Park. Bellevue will use the new Riverfront Commons signage to designate an interim walking/biking path along Fairfield Avenue (Route 8) and down Ward Avenue to the park. A Cincy Red Bike station is being installed at Fairfield and Ward to help encourage activity.
     
    “It’s not the ideal long-term plan to put cyclists on Fairfield Avenue with cars, but we just want to get going with the Riverfront Commons concept,” Salzman says, noting that Bellevue’s riverfront — which unlike its neighboring cities doesn’t have a floodwall — would need to be built up in the future to support a free-standing trail.
     
    • Dayton: Construction is underway on the first homes in the massive Manhattan Harbour project on Dayton’s riverfront, where the existing floodwall trail would have multiple connections. State funding has been secured to upgrade and fill in a new one-mile trail section.
     
    • Ft. Thomas and further east: Moreland says Riverfront Commons officially ends at the eastern edge of Dayton, but he sees an opportunity to extend the trail connections another few miles.
     
    The national Rails-to-Trails movement has created thousands of miles of walking/biking paths along abandoned railroad lines, but now a Rails-With-Trails push is carving public paths along active railroad lines with appropriate safety fencing and separation. Moreland says CSX Railroad now uses just one track along the Ohio River, having dropped the second one, which could allow Riverfront Commons to be extended east along Ft. Thomas’ riverfront and under I-275 all the way to Pendery Sports Park in Silver Grove.
     
     
    Covington banking on 'ripple effect'
     
    City officials are considering a variety of riverfront options while awaiting U.S. Army Corp of Engineers approval for their initial stabilization and infrastructure improvement plans. Work on the first phase — from Madison Avenue to Crescent Avenue (Route 8) — starts this summer to build a large plaza with walking/biking paths as part of Riverfront Commons as well as water access for kayaking.
     
    Other amenities could offer interactive human-scale components such as water features, public art, food truck plazas and hands-on recreation. The city will need other funding, including grants and private donors, to build the more creative and ambitious options being discussed.
     
    “Excellent outdoor public spaces have a ripple effect, leading to an increased property values in the city and making it more attractive for additional investment,” Klein says. “The link between recreational and cultural amenities and economic development is consistently demonstrated in the great cities worldwide. It’s important that Covington recognizes and acts on that fact by investing in public spaces.”
     
    Covington has also announced two other high-profile outdoor projects. The first is replacement of the golf course clubhouse in Devou Park, a $5.25 million project funded by Devou Park Trust and Drees Pavilion. The new 12,000-square-foot clubhouse will serve more than just golfers, housing a cafe with outdoor seating, bike rentals and a park ranger station; completion is expected by Spring 2017.
     
    The other project is Electric Alley, which will be converted to a walking and biking path between Fifth and Sixth Streets parallel to Madison and Scott. The alley runs through Gateway Community and Technical College’s downtown campus in a growing area with retail shops, businesses, restaurants and the Kenton County Public Library.
     
    The alley conversion is being funded by a $1 million “transportation alternatives” grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. A construction timeline will be developed once the project is sent out for bids.

  • March 13, 2016 5:11 PM | Anonymous

    Source: The News Record  

    After many attempts over the last several years to enrich the University of Cincinnati’s sustainability, the university’s effort has now manifested through awards and favorable student opinion.

    UC was named a 2015-2016 diamond-level Transit Friendly Destination by the Green Umbrella, a regional sustainability organization in Cincinnati working toward environmentally-friendly metro areas. 

    The award is for groups promoting transit ridership for individuals, as well as encouraging social responsibility through integration of culture, according to the Green Umbrella’s website.

    Internally, Student Government voted against fossil fuel divestment in February, but UC is still continuing work for a sustainable future through following a Climate Action Plan (CAP), providing a guideline for the university to be more eco-friendly. 

    CAP is a document written by the President's Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainability. It establishes topics ranging from buildings and transportation to education and opportunities.

    “The university is committed to sustainability through the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment,” said Erin LeFever, a third-year environmental studies student and assistant sustainability coordinator.

    LeFever continued to describe the entailments of the plan, citing UC’s carbon footprint and overall green presence.

    “This was first signed in September 15, 2009. The comprehensive document includes an in-depth study of the university's carbon inventory and existing practices in categories such as transportation, buildings, energy, education, outreach, etc,” LeFever said. 

    Encouraging students and faculty alike, the document provides ideas for maximizing UC’s green potential. 

    “One of the most powerful ways for students to create sustainable initiatives is by teaming up with faculty and administration. By pooling talents, knowledge, ideas and resources, students at UC can make a much larger impact and complete more complex projects and reach more people,” the document reads.

    The university’s UC Sustainability (UCS) initiative, founded in 2010, reports directly to the President's Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainability.

    UCS has implemented practices such as All Recycling, created in 2010, which combines community efforts with campus living. 

    Their focus is placing containers in general funded buildings on the Uptown, UC Reading, UC Victory and Academic Health Center campus, as well as in TUC, the recreation center and inside all residence halls.

    All maintenance and emptying of the containers goes to Facilities Management staff, who also places the containers, according to Peter Moorhouse, sustainability coordinator. 

    Another green initiative tied to UC is Bike Kitchen, a bicycle repair and lessons shop located at 2936 Woodside Dr., attached to Myers Alumni Center.

    According to UCS’ website, the business is run by trained bicycle mechanics and has four ‘Fixit Bike Repair Stations’ around campus, where resources are available on campus for bike repair. The locations are inside Crawley near the Fitness Center entrance, at the 100 level of TUC, the north patio at Calhoun Hall and outside the Bike Kitchen.

    However, some students are not impressed with the changes UC has made. 

    “I haven’t seen anything happen immediately. We’ve had talks but we’re not doing anything,” said Katelyn Mullett, a second-year physical therapy student. 

    Sustainable resources are accessible but can vary depending on the building, such as Langsam Library, where students may have to go out of their way to recycling stations.

    “I wish there were more recycling bins. There were times when I’ve wanted to but couldn’t,” said Umar Duranni, a first-year medical sciences student. “In Langsam, there could be more recycling bins other than just paper. UC could be doing a better job.” 

    In contrast, UC also created the UC Shuttle that runs every weekday, which reduces vehicle emissions by promoting the idea of transporting students on and near campus on the same shuttle.

    Overall, UC’s work toward sustainability appears to be positive, especially for students who have seen the progress firsthand. 

    “I definitely have noticed a lot more green efforts this year than in past years,” said Louie Torres, a fifth-year engineering student.

  • March 10, 2016 5:13 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Dayton Daily News  

    Plans for a multi-use trail linking the Great Miami and Little Miami trails in Warren and Butler counties are taking shape again.

    The Miami-2-Miami Connector, most recently proposed in 2001, is now part of a multi-state initiative aimed at completing and extending the network of trails leading from Piqua to Fairfield, Springfield to Cincinnati, and beyond.

    In addition to biking and hiking enthusiasts, the Miami-2-Miami Connector appeals to health advocates and economic development officials attracted to studies showing some people are willing to pay $9,000 more to live a mile from a trail.

    A connected trail system could also draw tourists to an area already crisscrossed by more than 330 miles of continuous trail or designated routes shared with motorists.

    “The big thing we are going to focus on is the Miami-2-Miami Connector,” said Wade Johnston, regional trails coordinator for Tri-State Trails, which is behind the project. “We’re trying to find the best route.”

    An east-west connector between the trails following the Great Miami and Little Miami rivers and bookending the Miami Valley already exists. The Creekside Trail runs from Xenia to Dayton, and two others are proposed.


    The Great-Little Trail already runs from Crains Run Park in Miami Twp. to Austin Landing and down Austin Boulevard and Social Row in Washington Twp., where it ends for now. Eventually it is mapped out to reach the Little Miami trail at Corwin or Spring Valley.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation will be posting signs for the Piqua to Urbana Trail, but the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission envisions a dedicated trail in the future.

    “To our knowledge there are no concrete plans in the works for the trails that would make this a reality,” Matt Lindsay of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission said in an email.

    There are currently no connectors to the south in Warren or Butler counties to the trail system, and plans to do so had been shelved until recently.

    In 2001, two routes were envisioned for the connector between Mason-Deerfield Twp. in Warren County and Hamilton or Fairfield in Butler County.

    Johnston has revived talk of the connector since taking the helm of the regional trails group a year ago.

    Trail advocates and city planners have gathered at a series of forums to consider options, including signing a temporary route educating users of the value of the route in lieu of securing the money and right of way needed to set aside a dedicated route.

    Funded by Interact for Health, formerly the Greater Cincinnati Health Foundation, Tri-State Trails is also promoting the completion of the Great Miami Trail from Franklin south to Middletown and Hamilton.

    “Then we could see a large loop evolve,” Johnston said.

    Tri-State Trails is also promoting trails in Northern Kentucky and a program to calculate trail use, a key to winning grants and other funding.

    It is too early in the process to make cost estimates, according to Johnston.

    The prospect of the Miami-2-Miami Connector has excited Ken McCall, co-chairman of Bike Centerville, even though the community he advocates for would not be connected to the trail network.

    “It would be very attractive to me,” said McCall, who uses existing roads to reach the trail network.

    Bike Centerville and Bike Miami Valley are focused on providing trail connections for less confident cyclists, he said.

    “It wouldn’t help us. It would be great for those folks down there,” McCall said.

    One option McCall and others are advocating for is a continuation of the Iron Horse Trail, a north-south route ending on the north side of Interstate 675. Advocates are working with government officials to extend the trail across the interstate, where it could follow a railroad easement near County Line Road into Warren County.

    In February, McCall was in the audience for the Tri-State Trail’s Warren County Forum and huddled with Johnston after the meeting.

    “We’ve been trying to look at this at a regional and local level,” Johnston said.

  • February 24, 2016 5:15 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Bellevue Dayton Sun   

    At a public meeting on Tuesday evening, Bob Yoder, SouthbankTrail Consultant, launched an initiative to acquire the Trail Town designation for the Northern Kentucky river cities. Yoder has applied for all 6 river cities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, BellevueDayton and Ft. Thomas to get this designation which would elevate each city’s status in the adventure tourism industry. This would also open up grant money so each town could build upon their already extensive trail base. The Riverfront Commons Trail that runs through Bellevue and Dayton is a huge part of this program, especially since the trail in Dayton is going to get a big boost with the recent alternative transportation grant awarded this last fall. Bob said that once the cities get this Trail Town designation, it will be like having a Tree City or Historic City designation and there are many people that seek out those places to visit.

    The American Discovery Trail is a 3600-mile trail that runs from Delaware to California. It is the longest trail in the nation and runs through our community. Bob Yoder said, “the state of Kentucky has the smallest part of the American Discovery Trail but we could market our part of the trail as ‘the state you can do in a day’.”

    Green Umbrella supports Tri-State Trails and their goal is to get the Cincinnati area ranked as one of the top 10 most sustainable areas in the nation by 2020. Wade Johnston, the Regional Trails Coordinator for Tri-State Trails said that Dayton, Ohio has the largest network of connected trails in the region with over 330 miles of trails. “We think there are a lot of benefits to having trails in our community and ultimately it equates to improved quality of life,” Johnston said. He also cited examples of the benefits to having these trails nearby. Trails improve property values, overall health of community members, decrease the carbon footprint and increase tourism.

    Bob Yoder wants to host a big trail event this summer to kick off the Trail Town initiative. He is hopeful that the Trail Town designation will be granted to the cities by the fall. Bob Yoder needs a lot of community support and help to get this going. He is looking for community leaders and volunteers for event planning and marketing. If anyone is interested, Bob can be contacted at rjyoder@gmail.com.

    Trail systems can include waterways, unpaved trails, paved trails, bike paths, streets and bridges creating a diverse way of exploring the trail systems. Tri-State trails launched a program called, “Opening Day on the Trails Challenge” taking place from April 16th through June 4th. The event is part of a national kickoff to the spring outdoors season organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The 7-week challenge encourages people to explore the region’s trails by offering prizes to participants that complete the challenge.

    The forum was crowded with Mayors, Main Street Representatives and Garden Club members from Edgewood, Ft. Thomas, Ft. Mitchell, Newport, Bellevue, Covington, Silver Grove and Ludlow. These events and initiatives have the largest impact on Kenton and Campbell counties currently.


  • February 15, 2016 5:17 PM | Anonymous

    Source: Soapbox 

    Food security has been a hot topic in the news with food-borne illness outbreaks at national chains and studies on the impact of urban food deserts.
     
    Locally, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (GCRFPC), an initiative of Green Umbrella, is working to create a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system across the tristate. The council recently announced that it will award multiple grants of up to $10,000 each for innovative projects that promote more “Good Food” in the region.
     
    The Cincy Good Food Fund Award is supported by a grant from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.
     
    “Addressing the need for a healthy, equitable and sustainable regional food system is right up there with the goal of world peace,” GCRFPC Director Angie Carl says. “The link between food and health, sustainability and the local economy is undeniable. Ideally it would be easy for all to make healthy eating choices. Yet we know many people in our region go hungry, many don’t have access to healthy food and many do not make healthy eating choices.
     
    “Further, there are many practices, regulations and obstacles in our food system that present challenges for local food production and distribution. Some say our food system is broken. Whether or not that’s true, it is definitely true that our region's farms are decreasing and we desperately need to support and encourage more agriculture in both urban and rural areas.”
     
    GCRFPC itself is a relatively new organization, coming together in October 2014 with a grant from Interact for Health to reactivate the Cincinnati Food Policy Council, which had disbanded in 2011. Today, 40 representatives from organizations operating in the 10-county region are addressing issues facing the regional food system through four working groups: Healthy Food Access and Consumption; Distribution and Procurement; Food Production and Land Use; and Community Assessment, Planning and Zoning.
     
    Each work group identified priorities for its focus area, established a work plan and are conducting research on best practices that will provide information for case studies, position papers and policy recommendations.
     
    The Good Food Fund Award seeks to engage the wider community in achieving GCRFPC goals. The award is modeled on similar programs in cities like Cleveland, Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn.
     
    “There is no ‘Department of Food,’ so we are determined to help our region put a higher priority on a healthy food system,” Carl says. “GCRFPC will provide some financial assistance for innovative, impactful and viable food-related projects to help promote our mission.”
     
    The program will award up to $40,000 in grants in 2016. Applications are welcome from nonprofits as well as commercial businesses and are due March 3.

    Successful entries will address at least one of the following GCRFPC priorities:
    • Healthy food access for Greater Cincinnati residents,
    • Production of local foods and value-added food products,
    • Community development to support local foods and coalitions,
    • Food security for Greater Cincinnati residents,
    • Educational programs that promote healthy eating habits and
    • Beneficial reuse or minimization of food waste.
     
    “We hope the Cincy Good Food Fund will help raise awareness in our region of some of the good work that is going on to improve our food system,” Carl says.

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