Archive for Mariemont

Pictures of the New Well in Mariemont’s South 80

Pictures of the New Well in Mariemont’s South 80. The new well on the South 80 is a great addition that serves the avid gardeners of Mariemont . Great for watering new plantings. It should be noted that the well is not certified as potable for drinking.

The New Well

The New Wellwater  (3)


water  (2)

A Vision Statement for Mariemont: Part 1

A Vision Statement for Mariemont

 Vision 2021 Redux

“Dr. Emmett Brown: You’ve got to come back with me!
Marty McFly: Where?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Back to the future!”

 By Mike Lemon and Richard Wendel

                In November 2008, the Mariemont Preservation Foundation (MPF) undertook crafting a bold plan called Vision 2021 to act as a guide for steering Mariemont into the next decade. MPF methodically collected input from hundreds of interested parties representing the entire spectrum of opinion. This included businesses, social organizations, boards and commissions, school officials, elected officials, Village employees and students

            The MPF Vision 2021 Committee was composed of respected leaders including Richard Adams, Don Keyes, Frank Raeon, Millard Rogers, Jr. and David Zack. Working as a team, they compiled a 50 page document containing their findings. In January 2011, the Vision Plan 2021 was referred by the Mayor to the Economic Development and Planning Committee for a report and recommendation. After no report was made by the committee for months, in September 2011 MPF’s leadership attended a council meeting and recommended that the Village’s elected officials appoint a broad based Vision Commission. Specifically, the Mayor was encouraged to spearhead the effort to assemble a Vision Committee comprised of 15 respected volunteers.

            Council debated elements of the plan. However, neither the Mayor nor Council moved forward on the Vision 2021 Plan proposal, nor did they modify it or develop an alternative plan. After many additional months with no report or action taken by the Economic Development and Planning Committee or the Mayor, the topic was unceremoniously dropped from the Council Agenda after April 2012.

          In this first installment of a four-part series, let’s examine the potential financial benefits to the Village had the Mariemont Vision 2021 Plan been adopted in 2012 and used as a blueprint for future developments in Mariemont:

Let’s assume that the Mariemont council adopted the MPF Vision 2021 Plan to use as a guideline for the future and that an ad hoc Vision 2021 Commission with 15 members was selected and entrusted with the task of implementation.

            As a first step, several full-day retreats with councilmembers, the mayor and commission members were held to condense, prioritize and financially analyze the recommendations in Vision 2021. A mission statement and strategic plan emerged on the final day of the meetings. Basically, the mission statement stated a goal “to sustain and improve upon the quality of life enjoyed by Mariemont residents and engage the community in every phase of the planning and implementation process.”

One recommendation to jump start and sustain the process was the hiring of a full time Village Administrator. Council contracted with a major consulting firm to thoroughly vet qualified candidates for this position and aid in the process of refining and implementing a strategic plan for economic development, improved services and cultural enhancements.A.   

Fiscal Sustainability

With the continued loss of revenues from the State of Ohio and inheritance taxes, the long term threat to a balanced budget was quickly recognized and, unfortunately, this downward pressure on revenues was compounded by the shrinkage of the employment base in the Westover industrial park with the closing of a major business.

It was obvious to the Council and Vision 2012 Committee that alternate pathways to fulfill budgetary needs were imperative.

  1. The opportunity to partner in JEDZs (Joint Economic Development Zones) with surrounding communities was seized upon as one available means to fill some of the funding gaps. These partnerships with local townships generated hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly in unfettered revenue. This permitted the Village to move forward on infrastructure improvements and cover the increasing cost of services without increasing taxes to residents and businesses.
  2. After being schooled in available public financing options, the Economic Development and Planning Committee of Council identified types of businesses needed for the community and pursued recruitment strategies. To stimulate economic development, incentives and tools such as the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA), Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) , and Community Investment Corporation (CIC) were considered as pathways to clean up contaminated sites, revitalize the Westover industrial park and attract new businesses. These incentive programs enabled public-private partnerships to attract new businesses and retain and grow existing ones. They had the effect of revitalizing the business community that enabled commercial property owners to improve their rents and maintenance while increasing the number of employees and customers.
  3. Council also realized that additional savings could be achieved by shared services with surrounding communities. This eliminated duplication of expensive equipment and services without compromising safety while reducing costs. A cultural shift in governance from structured independence to an atmosphere of cooperation, sharing and coordination resulted in improved relationships that leveraged mutual interests and directions.

The new financial position from these three initiatives was consistent with no new taxes even as the Village could proceed with needed improvements in infrastructure.

As part of this series, the authors invite you to consider the following questions: 

  • Should Council adopt the Vision 2021 Plan or develop and communicate its own Vision Plan?
  • Should Council investigate and make a recommendation on whether to hire a qualified professional Village Administrator and rely on outside Consultants?
  • Should the Economic Development and Planning Committee proactively develop a strategic plan for business development, business retention and recruitment?
  • Would collaboration and shared services with other communities benefit the Village and lower operating costs?
  • Should Village officials reach out to other communities and begin a conversation on topics of mutual interest?

To view the entire Vision 2021 Plan click here

The Mayor’s Bulletin… Misinformation?

Chicken Little? “The sky is falling!”

Chicken Little is an endearing and amusing folk tale all of us have heard or told. It has a moral to it, warning us against hysterical beliefs that disaster is imminent or against being unreasonably afraid. The story of Chicken Little came to mind when I read the latest Mayor’s Bulletin (April 2014).

Despite the innocuous title, the Bulletin article “MARIEMONT.ORG IS THE ONLY OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE VILLAGE”  had little to do with websites. This was another  use of an “official” Mariemont publication, paid for by Mariemont taxpayers, that digresses from the topic of the Village of Mariemont website into a personal attack, an atttempt to intimidate and bully, and projection of unreasonable conclusions  on other issues. Let’s dissect this article from the Bulletin,hopefully making more rational comments and sense than it contained:


“At Town Meeting, a few citizens were still confused about the Village’s website, so once again, I want to point out to everyone that the Village’s official website is www.mariemont.ORG.  The website with the domain name of www.mariemont.COM is NOT a Village-authorized site.”

  • The Village of Mariemont does not have statutory authority to authorize sites or domain names.
  • has voluntarily and repeatedly expressed publicly and on its website that it is not connected to the Village government and is an independent site, presenting independent viewpoints and information on Mariemont and surrounding communities. These recurring attempts in the Mayor’s Bulletins to discredit it and diminish it border on libel.
  • existed long before!

“The publisher of this unofficial website wrote a letter to ODOT in support of running the Eastern Corridor through our South 80 Park – something we have vehemently opposed!”

  • Why continue to claim this is an “unofficial” site when it clearly is not Village sponsored nor paid for by the Village?
  • What relevance does this comment have to either web site?
  • What is the point of these repeated attempts to deride a differing viewpoint?  While some may not agree on the direction or objectives of the Eastern Corridor, it does not prevent one’s freedom of expression. Differences of opinion and the ability to express them are basic rights and recognized as a sign of a healthy democracy! Where is the respect for others’ opinions?

“Our experience with ODOT leads us to believe that they will use this letter against us, saying that it indicates support from Village residents to build the Eastern Corridor which would destroy our historic parkland and possibly cause us to lose our status as a National Historic Landmark by paving over an important historic Native America village site.”

  • What experiences with ODOT are being referenced here and why would these lead you to believe ODOT would use the letter against the Village? If you’re going to make these claims, provide FACTS, not opinions, assumptions or innuendos.
  • Does anyone seriously believe ONE letter will carry more weight or sway ODOT to act against Village wishes compared to the many opposing letters and opposition groups involved in this project? This is hyperbole at its finest.
  • What evidence exists Mariemont could lose its National Historic Landmark designation if the Eastern Corridor is built? Is there a letter from the Interior Department or cite from a federal act verifying this? My review of the National Historic Preservation Act and 36CFP Part 800 – Protection of Historic Properties did not indicate any reasons for losing an historic landmark designation. What’s the basis for this fear-mongering comment?

“What’s more, we have heard rumors that ODOT is using the four-lane Eastern Corridor like a ‘Trojan Horse’ to lay the groundwork for extending I-74 through our community and into Clermont County.”

  • Who told you these “rumors?” What evidence or facts were presented to give any substantiation to them? Was any investigation or fact finding conducted to verify or dismiss them?
  • Promoting unsubstantiated rumors in a Village sponsored publication would be unsavory and unctuous.

“Can you imagine an expressway running through the South 80 Park?  It would fill our quiet neighborhood with a constant roar of traffic and fill our air with pollution from the large volume of cars passing through.”

  • It already exists. What about the traffic, noise and pollution created every day from the 30,000 cars passing through the heart of Mariemont, and next to schools and parks? This is nothing more than pandering to the emotions of opponents to the Eastern Corridor.

“No longer would the South 80 Park and/or the Concourse be places for relaxing and enjoying nature as they were intended.  Because it is prone to flooding, the area could never be used for playfields or a shelter house. “

  • Because it’s prone to flooding, does that mean we can’t have the South 80 trails or camp site we’re using today? Schmidt baseball fields, Riverbend music center, and other facilities are located in the flood plain of the Ohio River and are used year after year, flood after flood. Why would the South 80 be any different?

“Obviously the publisher of this letter did not have all the facts or understand the significant ramifications of ODOT’s plans before sending that letter to ODOT.  Now that everyone is aware of how harmful this would be to the Village of Mariemont, we respectfully ask that this letter be rescinded and let ODOT know that, in the best interest of this community, the publisher no longer supports the construction of the Eastern Corridor.  Certainly anyone who cherishes the peace and tranquility that is the Village of Mariemont would not want it replaced with a major expressway! Please let it be known that you do not agree with the statement in the letter to ODOT! “

  • What is this obsession with a letter that was written two years ago expressing a differing viewpoint?
  • This is nothing more than a BULLYING tactic and attempt to discredit someone who has a difference of opinion.  Surely the Village has not become a community where people cannot disagree or have a difference of opinion?
  • Why isn’t the” publisher” mentioned several times in this article ever identified? Fear of libel?

While I initially applauded the purpose of the Mayor’s Bulletin to communicate regularly with residents of the community about issues, events and activities in the community, I cannot condone it for what it has become. It’s time for Mariemont Council and its Solicitor to stop allowing the use of taxpayer money to promote unfounded rumors, unsubstantiated claims, personal vendettas and personal agendas in a Village sponsored and paid publication.

The sky is not falling Chicken Little. it’s just a little thunder!

Mike Lemon

A Real Estate Trend in Mariemont?

After 20 straight months of increased home sales in Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reports a 14.8 percent increase in February sales and active listings or houses available for sale down 15.5 percent from March 2012.

Mariemont residents and realtors, George Peck and Jerry Garrison complain that there is insufficient inventory of homes for sale to meet the demand in Mariemont. Even though in the Greater Cincinnati region demand has increased relative to supply, prices have inched up only 3 % in Southwest Ohio during 2012.

During the past five months (November, December, January, February and March) in Mariemont, 97 homes have sold from a cumulative inventory month-over-month of 283. The average selling price has gone from $322,000 to $350,604 over this five month period. The average days on market have varied and show no consistent pattern.

It is difficult to identify a distinct trend, but the market does seem to be improving from a homeowner’s standpoint in Mariemont.

Real Estate data for February-March

Information from Sotheby’s Realty

Neighborhood # sold Active Listings Average List Average Sale Price Days on Market
Mariemont 5 32 428,647 350,04 131
Terrace Park 1 18 674,278 1,125,000 85
Indian Hill 5 78 1,669,365 1,036,900 89
Maderia 7 49 378,965 218,857 115
Madison Place 2 13 107,662 88,500 168
Hyde Park 12 90 390,703 324,238 95
Newtown 1 19 210,661 600,000 54

What makes Mariemont so special?

In the main, the ‘blue ribbon’ Mariemont School System and the retention of real-estate values are major selling points. But there is much more and to me three words sum up the Mariemont experience: community, convenience and charm.  Whether walking, jogging or riding a bike down Mariemont’s flat tree-lined boulevards, its 3500 residents meet and greet to exchange the niceties of family life, schools, neighbors and local events. As a destination, the town is a center of commercial enterprise, entertainment, historical importance and attractive Tudor architecture. This remarkable cosmopolitan town is just a short drive to all other cultural, sporting, civic and shopping venues that Cincinnati boasts. There is no other community that can match the amenities of Mariemont living in Cincinnati.

Mariemont Theater

Pictures on this post by Joe Stoner

Development of 'South 80'

Mariemonters who have had gardens in the South 80 acres during recent years must wonder whether routing the Eastern Corridors through this acreage would eliminate their garden plots. Eighty acres is a lot of ground with 3,484,800 square feet. Although the Eastern Corridor right-of-ways for a connector to State Route 32, passenger rail and bike paths might necessitate relocation of the garden area, my calculations suggest that an ample amount of acreage would remain in which to relocate the gardens.

The Village Administrator’s office indicated that the assigned garden plots were 25 feet by 25 feet square. The first plot cost $6.00 per year and a maximum of ten could be purchased with the last nine costing $1.00 per lot or plot. A total of ten lots would be the equivalent of .143 or just under 1/6th of an acre.

The ground in a flood plain is extremely fertile and produces high yields. Moreover, the ground is quite granular and porous without high clay content and this makes tilling and cultivating less labor intensive. Likewise, in low lying areas the air humidity is high and even though the sandy nature of the soil facilitates the rapid runoff of rain water, dry conditions tend to have less of an effect on crops.

In farm land with surrounding wooded areas, many insects and critters feast on your produce. Deer are indiscriminate feeders whereas raccoons tend to wait until your corn is ripe before making a meal of it. Squirrels just make holes in your tomatoes, and rabbits and groundhogs nibble on your lettuce and spinach. The birds destroy any berries and the insects (the Colorado Potato and Japanese beetles have been the most troublesome in my garden) attack most anything.

Many strategies and a steady chorus of advisors exist to ward off the more troublesome pests. One tactic is to just out produce them. I have tried electric fences for deer without success. I have spread around the urine of multiple species without success. And, at times, I have resorted to just raising vegetables that are either root crops or unappetizing to the interlopers such as peppers, egg plant, ochre,  potatoes, zucchini and other species of squash.

For us city dwellers, the experience of gardening is more about the exhilaration of

being in the great outdoors and the enjoyment of getting your hands in the soil. The last year or two, bean and corn farmers have been richly rewarded with high commodity prices, but it is unlikely that small scale gardening will generate much reward other than providing vegetables for your home table and a few for the farmer’s market.

However, in the South 80 the ‘gardening experience’ would be enhanced if there were a reliable water supply, electricity and storage facilities for tillers and supplies. Lugging water containers, garden supplies and tillers from home each time you tend your plot is a nuisance and entails heavy lifting. And, I am told, that if you leave equipment or supplies at the site, they are often stolen or vandalized.

I think the problems with storage, access to water and security are solvable and a solution would greatly improve the experience of gardening and increase the number of Mariemonters desirous of having a garden.  To insure that none of these recommendations violates zoning regulations, I consulted Dennis Malone, the Building Commissioner. He indicated that constructing these moveable structures was permitted and that building permits would not be required.

  1. Quality water tanks that come in many shapes and contain between 1500 and 2000 gallon capacity cost less than $1000 dollars installed. A vertical round tank could easily be placed on a study, but simple, 2-3 foot high wooden platform to increase the water pressure from gravity and protect it from flood waters. Trucked in water or water periodically pumped from Whiskey Creek could replenish the supply at nominal cost.
  2. Home Depot, Tractor Supply and other builders supply houses offer a broad range of sheds (see the pictures below of one or two offered at the Home Depot) that could accommodate most any need for storage of equipment and supplies. The costs range between $300 dollars for the self-constructed but ample variety to $2500 for Cadillac models.(10’x12’) For security, sheds can be anchored to a cement slab, footers or 4x4s secured with concrete. This type of construction, would not preclude moving the shed or sheds should massive flood waters develop.
  3. In all probabilities, a low amp power line could be run to the acreage, but this would require coordination with the village and power company. The question of billing would be an issue. As an alternative, a generator could be used to pump water or repair equipment. One big advantage to having an electric line is a security light to deter vandalism and theft and assist the police is their oversight at night.

Mariemont is a great destination and place to live. The gardens are an impressive amenity that builds community. Please, share your views and let’s see if we can make the gardens in Mariemont one of our featured attractions.

Recently, the Mariemont Preservation Society developed a grant program and when one board member was asked if they might consider a grant to subsidize the garden improvements, the answer was yes.




Traffic Calming Options Considered for 6-Way Intersection

The entrance to the Village of Mariemont to the north is a six-way intersection where Plainville, Murray and Madisonville Road converge. At a presentation in early February, Jonathan Wiley, a transportation engineer with KZF Design, presented several options that aim to improve the flow of traffic at that intersection. In the fall, KZF engineers studied traffic patterns through the intersection and then modeled six different revisions. The two options that were the most feasible came down to a roundabout or traffic lights. Mr. Wiley stated that the current intersection does not meet today’s standards for keeping traffic moving. He acknowledged that there have been very few accidents at the intersection, and attributes it to the fact that drivers go very slowly because it is confusing and difficult to determine who should proceed next. Given all the factors, KZF determined that a roundabout is the best option for keeping traffic moving, with speeds of 18-20 miles per hour through the intersection.

Attending the presentation were representatives from businesses, the Mariemont School Board, Columbia Township, Mariemont Council, and other interested parties. Mike Lemon, Administrator of Columbia Township, spoke in favor of the roundabout as a way to improve the traffic flow and the look of the area. He reminded the group that roundabouts are common in England, and Mariemont is modeled after an English garden city.  Most of the affected land lies in Columbia

Township, but there is a 10-foot easement in the Village

of Mariemont that is affected by the roundabout and a proposed bike path, and so they are seeking cooperation from the Village.

Future traffic through the area was considered, to take into account increased traffic from Emery Park and Nolen Park condominiums, as well as a proposed apartment complex. Traffic engineers estimate an eventual 15% increase in traffic and their models show that both the traffic signal plan and the roundabout plan can handle future growth. KZF estimates construction of a roundabout would take 2-3 months, with traffic maintained. Installing traffic signals would be a much easier process. Installing traffic lights was not considered the best option, however, because speed through the intersection would be fairly high (30 mph) on Plainville when the lights are green. The engineers see the roundabout plan, with “splitter islands” as also being safer for pedestrians, since they would be able to cross one lane, pause at the island and then cross another lane, reducing their exposure.

KZF has presented their findings to the five member Planning Commission that will vote sometime in March and then present the final determination to Council.