Riverfront development project on table again

Council is discussing the area around Hobart Arena and the Treasure Island.

The project, proposed for discussion last November during city council’s annual budget review, was delayed at the request of council President Marty Baker until studies/designs were complete and better cost estimates available.

Baker said she now thinks council has the information needed for a discussion.

“We now have input from a study that was conducted along with recommendations from an architect and some dollar amounts that will help in the decision-making process,” she said.

The riverfront development proposal focuses on the city owned Hobart Arena and the Treasure Island area including a marina building.

Mayor Mike Beamish has emphasized that the riverfront development is important to the city’s economic development efforts, not just aesthetics.

The initial written proposal distributed in November estimated the project cost at $5 million. Administrators proposed bonding the project cost.

The new total project estimate, if all work proposed were completed, would exceed that with the arena portion “significantly” higher than the Treasure Island part, Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, said. Reports distributed to council showed the Hobart Arena renovations/enhancements estimate at $14.978 million and Treasure Island at between $2.475 million and $3.345 million.

The findings of consultants who studied the more than 60-year-old Hobart Arena and designed renovations for the Treasure Island marina and nearby green space will be presented during a riverfront development workshop scheduled for Tuesday.

Members of city council, the city park board and the city recreation board are invited to the 3 to 7:30 p.m. public program that will include arena and Treasure Island tours and architect presentations followed by discussion.

Council will meet again at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall to discuss its recommendation.

The city, just like homeowners, must maintain its properties, Baker said. She said she believed council would be given a breakdown of costs and may have the choice of looking at requests and weighing them on “needs vs. desires” for each property.

“There is an increased interest in recreational opportunities provided by the Great Miami River, the bike path, Hobart Arena and Treasure Island,” Baker said. “There is a definite potential at this time for council to look at what we can do or should do for this generation and those in the future and act accordingly.”

Beamish has for years advocated more use of Treasure Island, which includes a restaurant and marina built in the 1940s next to the river and just east of County Road 25A as it heads north out of the city.

That facility and the arena can play a big role in future economic development, he said Wednesday.

“Business and industry are in dire need of skilled workforce to grow within the city. Riverfront development represents quality of life amenities for families and young workers who have been shown to desire outdoor recreational and wellness activities when looking to locate to a community,” Beamish said. “In fact, we have discovered that young professionals first look to a community with active quality of life amenities and then to a job to fit their quality of life needs.”

He and Titterington, like Baker, pointed out the two properties need to be maintained by the city.

Titterington emphasized that any project would be paid through bond financing, not any tax or fee increases. “There is some urgency about bonding only because the interest rates are so low and won’t go anywhere but up,” Titterington said.

Most of the work on any projects approved by council likely wouldn’t begin until 2015, he said.

Contact this reporter at nancykburr@aol.com.

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