Yesterday evening, the Board of the Oakley Community Council (OCC) hosted a town hall with FC Cincinnati regarding the plans for a stadium in our neighborhood. It was our first public meeting with the team since Jeff Berding presented the initial vision for the stadium at our meeting on November 7, 2017. Both proponents and opponents of the stadium felt this meeting was overdue. We thank Jeff Berding and his team, as well as the members of the City Department of Transportation and Engineering, for joining us and hearing out all of the questions and concerns that were presented by our engaged community members. We also thank the attendees who took the time to join us and share their feelings about the stadium. We are proud of the passion held by our fellow community members.
Following that meeting, we ask FC Cincinnati to continue the engagement with our community. Please do not force us to wait another 4 months. We recognize that alternative paths are being pursued. We appreciate the diligence that FC Cincinnati is conducting, and we are grateful that our neighborhood is being considered for such a transformative development. We need to continue to evaluate whether such transformation is the right direction for Oakley. And if our neighborhood is chosen as the ultimate destination for this stadium, we will make every effort to ensure that it enhances the neighborhood for the benefit of those who live, work, play and worship in Oakley.
Following last night’s meeting, we also would like to use this opportunity to share where we, the OCC, stand by providing clarity on our previous actions:
On November 7, 2017, Jeff Berding and Michael Moore, Director of the City Department of Transportation and Engineering, presented a vision for a future FC Cincinnati stadium in Oakley. Some renderings were displayed, but Mr. Berding made clear that those renderings were merely ideas. At that time, Mr. Berding confirmed that the team was negotiating an option for the site of the former Cast-Fab manufacturing facility between Oakley Station and I-71. In response to the presentation from Jeff Berding and Michael Moore, the OCC Board voted 8-1 in favor a providing a letter of support to the City for the vision presented at that meeting, subject to the OCC’s continuing review of the development for the FC Cincinnati stadium.
Within a few weeks of our vote on the stadium vision, Mayor Cranley proposed a financing plan for infrastructure improvements in the area of the proposed stadium site. In response to the initial proposal, the OCC Board took action by unanimous written consent to specifically oppose the spending of the entire amount of the Oakley TIF funds for stadium infrastructure improvements, because those funds are explicitly designated for developments in different parts of our neighborhood. The plan that City Council ultimately passed did not include the Oakley Business District TIF funds, because Mayor Cranley heard our concerns and amended the financing plan before it was voted upon. To be clear, we have not taken a position on any specific infrastructure improvements. Generally speaking, infrastructure improvements are welcomed, but we need to understand the results of FC Cincinnati’s traffic study, what improvements are being proposed, and the impact those improvements will have on our neighborhood.
Since taking those actions, the OCC’s position has not changed. FC Cincinnati has not requested any action from the OCC. Last night’s meeting provided few new details regarding the proposed development. Additional details and discussion are required before any additional official action is appropriate. We ask FC Cincinnati to share details as soon as they become available and to continue engagement with the OCC to ensure that open communication and transparency are part of this process moving forward. Last night’s meeting was a step in the right direction. The community engagement must continue. We expect FC Cincinnati and their staff will meet with us on a regular basis, and we expect our community members to continue to ask questions, raise concerns, and most importantly, have our voices heard by all parties.
Oakley Community Council Board of Trustees