Loveland’s parking garage: from ‘done deal’ to ‘dead’

Rally in Loveland to oppose new parking garage

Citing the lack of funding, Loveland’s City Council voted unanimously on May 9th to shelve the controversial two-story, 275-car parking garage slated to be built in the city’s historic district. Loveland residents and environmentalists from across the region opposed the project due to lack of public input, lack of environmental studies, lack of parking data to support its construction, and lack of information about the garage’s financial burden on Loveland taxpayers. Sierra Club members and Loveland residents actively fought the garage’s construction.

Due to the controversy over the garage, articles and interviews appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Loveland Magazine, and the Loveland Herald. The “Eye on Loveland” podcast also covered the controversy surrounding the garage’s construction. Opponents held a large public rally in front of city hall which was covered by WCPO. Opponents wrote letters to the Economic Development Administration against federal funding for the project. Opponents gave multiple speeches at city council meetings outlining major issues with the garage proposal and offering multiple parking options that would be cheaper, less intrusive and less damaging to the environment. Opponents collected well over 200 signatures against the garage online and in person.

Among the issues was Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey’s refusal to allow a referendum providing residents the opportunity to vote on the garage. Another major issue was the garage’s environmental impact that was ignored by Loveland city planners and city council. Loveland supplied inaccurate and untrue information to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources regarding environmental impacts. As a result, the ODNR conducted their own environmental survey and then provided Loveland with a list of recommendations for protecting the environment if construction were to go ahead.

The cost of the garage was another major factor. The city never supplied information on what it would cost Loveland’s taxpayers to build and to maintain the garage. Nor were the downtown businesses asked to help with the cost. The burden and the debt would be on taxpayers alone – and they weren’t given the chance to provide their opinions or to vote on the garage.

The Sierra Club’s Miami Group provided necessary guidance and support throughout the 18-month fight against the garage. Working together, Loveland residents, Sierra Club Miami Group, and the Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed brought wide-spread awareness to an ill-planned, expensive, environmentally damaging construction project. As a result, a project that many thought was a “done deal” is now “dead”. This successful outcome could serve as a blueprint for other communities facing similar challenges from a city council that refuses to listen to public opinion or common sense and turns a blind eye to environmental impacts.

Instead of building a multi-million-dollar garage, Loveland will now build a surface parking lot on the same footprint as the garage – a space the size of a football field. While this “solution” still poses multiple problems and issues, a surface parking lot will be easier to remove in the future.

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