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Streetcar Project Supporters Plan Charter Amendment
CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- Supporters of the Cincinnati Streetcar say they can get the signatures by this weekend to put the controversial project back on the ballot.
Supporters announced their plans Monday morning and they will kick off their petition drive with a rally Tuesday night.
City Council has successfully stopped the work on the project. Who knows how this proposed charter amendment will resonate with voters or if and when it could get on the ballot.
About 50 ardent streetcar supporters braved the cold and a light snow Monday morning to say their effort to keep the project alive is still alive.
Robert Richardson, a streetcar supporter, said, So we are asking the administration for common sense. And to not just try to fulfill some unwise campaign promise.
The streetcar bucks stopped at City Council last Wednesday when the new city council halted work on the $148 million construction job. Elm Street near Findlay Market is now a steel-filled trench. The hope of the supporter crowd is, its not a grave.
Streetcar supporters have authored a charter amendment to put on the ballot. If voters approve it would not only restart the project but also create a public-private entity to cover operation costs. First, they have to get it on the ballot.
Another supporter, Ryan Messer, said, We need about 5700 signatures. Our goal is that by Saturday we will deliver 12,000 signatures.
They say they can get the signatures. They hope to get the votes. But there may be a problem with money.
The Federal Transit Authority has set a December 19th go/no go deadline for a city decision on the streetcar. Theyre holding $44 million in construction money.
Cincinnati city council member, Amy Murray, said, By the time they get the signatures and it gets processed and gets on the ballot were going to be talking months down the road. So by then if we as a council have not decided to go through with the project we wouldve lost that FTA money. And if it passes with voters I dont know how we would pay for it.
Organizers say they hope to have the signatures by this weekend. If they are validated by the board of elections, city council, by law, has to vote to put it on the ballot. The next regularly scheduled election in Hamilton County is in May.
Streetcar supporters hope to put the issue on the ballot in the first 3 months of 2014 in a special election. That would cost taxpayers $400,000 and cost streetcar supporters some political capital.
Organizers will hold a rally Tuesday night at 6p.m. at the First Lutheran Church in Over-The-Rhine. They will train people to gather signatures and announce locations where supporters can sign petitions.