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Streetcar Supporters Fill Library for Town Hall
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- An enthusiastic group of Streetcar supporters crowded into the Mercantile Library to discuss what they believe the project will bring to the city and how they plan to save it.
So many people attended the meeting that some had to be turned away and watched the meeting on the big screen TV at Fountain Square.
"The Streetcar is part of a much broader economic development initiative that supports all of Cincinnati and the region," said Ryan Messer, an Over-the-Rhine resident who's become the face of the campaign to save the Streetcar.
Proponents say the Streetcar will encourage businesses to set up shop along the line. They say it could also be expanded and lead to light rail if it's successful.
"There's no reason it couldn't go to neighborhoods like the East End and Price Hill once the example is set and these systems are successful. You have to start somewhere," said Don Mooney, a former member of the city planning commission.
Some residents and business owners said they bought property and opened businesses believing the Streetcar would be in place.
"It was really absolutely important to me. I really looked forward to walking down the street and getting on the Streetcar and riding it down to The Banks to go to a game," said Margy Waller who bought a home that she will start renovating.
Supporters said they expected a flurry of lawsuits to be filed against the city if the project is halted. Some hinted that residents and business owners should be compensated if they lose money.
City council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach and Wendell Young attended the meeting. Young said he believes in the Streetcar because it's been successful in other cities such as Portland, Oregon.
"The other thing it brought however, were a lot of small businesses, all along the streetcar line, all kinds of small businesses," Young said.
Thursday afternoon, Mayor Mark Mallory released a letter from the Federal Transit Administration. It said the FTA would take back the $44 million it put into project if it's halted. The FTA said the money could not be used for other projects.
In response to the letter, Mayor-elect John Cranley said, We are not giving up on reprogramming these grants. We are going to work with the local congressional delegation, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and the White House to reposition this money to benefit projects like the I-71/MLK interchange and the Western Hills Viaduct.
The Streetcar supporters say they plan to talk with incoming council members David Mann and Kevin Flynn and council member P.G. Sittenfeld about supporting the project.
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