West End history revisited at City Hall over FC Cincinnati stadium

West End history revisited at City Hall over FC Cincinnati stadium (WKRC)

WEST END, Ohio (WKRC) – There is new pushback against FC Cincinnati's plan to build a $200 million soccer stadium in the West End.

The Cincinnati School Board rejected the team's property tax proposal and wants a community benefits agreement with neighborhood groups.

Some are worried about history repeating itself.

In a room defined by politics, a history lesson was on the agenda of the “Equity, Inclusion and the Arts Committee” on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard, whose forebears were displaced by a West End development, brought in a historian to school her peers.

“I think it's important that people have a historical context on what has taken place in the West End so they know better why there is some resistance to this development, potential development,” said Cincinnati City Councilmember Tamaya Dennard.

A proposed FC Cincinnati stadium would sit in the heart of the West End. The city approved $37 million to support the project last year at an Oakley location but could use most of that money in the West End.

Dennard, who was not on council then says she would have voted against it.

“It was rushed through. There was no thought as to what the community needed. There's a lot of talk about community benefit agreements. That shouldn't be decided after you've given the money. That needs to be decided up front,” said Dennard.

On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati sent Local 12 a draft of a community benefits agreement. It commits to hiring neighborhood workers, establishing an advisory council and to develop affordable West End housing.

Dennard says her top priority is no resident gets displaced. It's a West End issue with a long history.

Changes made in the West End in the late '50's and '60's are blamed for displacing 25,000 people, most of them African-American, and demolishing 2600 buildings and 30 streets.

That's the story behind "Finding Kenyon Barr" the art project featured in this morning's committee meeting.

It's also on display at the Seven Hills neighborhood houses. It's a catalog of homes and businesses lost to I-75 and the industrialization of the area renamed Queensgate.

“If we're going to come into that community with another large infrastructure project we need to be able to really listen to the voices of the community and respect the past that has brought us to this place,” said Anne Delano Steinert, curator of the “Finding Kenyon Barr” exhibit.

Remember that there's a history in the West End no one wants to repeat.

FC Cincinnati leaders say they need to have a stadium deal in place by the end of the month.

Tamaya Dennard says she doesn't think that gives the city and the West End enough time to work out the details.

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