Request for streetcar design is shelved
Coleman says residents need more information; $2 million left available
Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:26 AM
By Robert Vitale
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
In a public-works budget approved last night by Columbus City Council, streetcars are now known only as “miscellaneous economic development.”
Bowing to criticism from council members who’ve complained about being left out of the debate and responding to concerns of residents and businesses, Mayor Michael B. Coleman removed a request to begin design of a High Street route and acknowledged he has more selling to do.
In a memo to Council President Michael C. Mentel pitching his $103 million idea as a catalyst for economic development, Coleman said, “While these issues are clear to me, our public needs more information.”
Council kept $2 million in the 2008 capital-spending plan that Coleman had requested for design and engineering of a 2.8-mile streetcar line from Downtown to Ohio State University. But it took the streetcar label off the money at the mayor’s request.
“Frankly, we are not ready to spend these resources,” Coleman said in a memo that acknowledged “an obligation to further educate the public.”
Spokesman Mike Brown said legislation to move forward on streetcar engineering will wait until a financing package is finalized. Coleman unveiled a plan in late March that would include new taxes on off-street parking and tickets to sporting events and concerts, but he has said repeatedly that it’s subject to change.
“Over time, we think we can win a lot of hearts over,” Brown said. “We’re going to do more outreach now.”
Councilman Kevin L. Boyce said last night’s decision to remove streetcar references from the $1.1 billion capital budget shouldn’t be interpreted as a rejection of the mayor’s plan. Leaving in $2 million without an earmark shouldn’t be interpreted as an endorsement, either, he said.
Streetcar Engineering Study Delayed
May 6, 2008 by John