Enhancing community connections in Cincinnati, by reclaiming alleys, sidewalks, and steps for the pedestrian.
By Christian Huelsman, 12/16/14
This article was also printed in the CUF Neighborhood Association Newsletter for December 2014.
While many hillside stairways lack the necessary maintenance, funding, and attention to keep them in good standing, one stairway in Clifton Heights-University Heights-Fairview (CUF) recently was given new life. The Emming Street Steps, which connect Emming at Flora Walk to City View Place, is now reopened after its bottom section was removed and replaced. The project had greater urgency than many crumbling stairways because its one of the few in the city that connect to residence along its path.
While a few stairways throughout the city have been partially or fully replaced during the past couple years, funding for such such project is at an all-time low, according to Rich Pohana, Geotechnical Engineer for DOTE. The original allotment of $250,000 for stairway assessment and improvement was eliminated in the 2012 Capital Budget. Projects like the Emming Street Steps and Liberty Street Steps used capital money left over from previous years. That money has now been fully exhausted and no money was budgeted in 2014 for the 2015 year. DOTE is currently working on submitting its capital budget for 2016, which would be allocated in July 2015. requesting $50,000. Until then, minor maintenance to stairways can still be handled by the Department of Public Services’ Road Operations Division, but funding is sparse.
Loss of public stairways in CUF has persisted since the 1980s, when the steps leading from Fairview Park to the top of Warner at Fairview were closed and removed. Other stairway removals include Klotter Avenue (1996), Devotie Avenue (2003), Coon Street (unknown year), and Hopple Street  (2014). The CUF community once had 24 public stairways paths within its boundaries. From that total, 9 stairways have been either closed, removed, or abandoned. Several other stairways may resemble conditions of abandonment but remain open. Causes for closure or abandonment have ranged from community petition from residents to unsafe structural conditions.
Closed/abandoned/removed stairways in CUF:
Closed: Polk, Warner
Abandoned: Alta Crest, Cliff
Removed: Coon, Devotie, Hopple , Klotter
Do you value our public stairways in CUF and abroad? Write to your Cincinnati City Council (http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/council/council-members) and City Manager Harry Black (firstname.lastname@example.org) to express the need to re-fund the Hillside Stairway Rehabilitation Program.