Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amberley is not an Island

One thing I like to keep in mind when I think about Amberley and my responsiblitity to the village as a council member, is how Amberley can remain a vibrant community, given the challenges that all local municipalities are facing, including elimination of estate tax, local government funds, and tangible personal property tax,  since most of our state revenue has been cut or eliminated. Where does Amberley Village fit within the structure of Hamilton County and who is looking out for us, besides our Amberley officials? Fortunately, we are not alone, but as a small community, it is important for us to shout a little louder and be a little more visible, so as not to be neglected.

One of the organizations that Amberley participates in is the First Suburbs Consortium of Southwest Ohio. First Suburbs are those suburbs that are generally located near core cities and were established prior to 1960. First suburbs share many common concerns -- older housing stock, shrinking tax base, and competition from the newer, outer exurbs for economic development. As the name suggests, the First Suburbs Consortium can generate the power of collaborative interests to influence policy -- as it is doing right now regarding HB5 and changes to how Ohio collects municipal tax.

Representatives to the First Suburbs Consortium are appointed by council. I was appointed in 2011 as an "alternate" representative. In February of this year, I learned that our appointed representative was not attending meetings, thereby leaving Amberley unrepresented and without a voice. In March, I attended my first First Suburbs general membership meeting where the Mill Creek Watershed was discussed, as well as updates regarding HB5 and other state legislative news. I have subsequently been appointed to serve on the executive committee of the Consortium.

Amberley is facing many challenges ahead, as we are forced to contend with a shrinking budget yet residents expect the same level of service they are used to. It is important for us to realize that we, as a community, share many of the same issues with our neighboring communities and that we are stronger when we harness our collective resources and ideas. The First Suburbs Consortium is just one way Amberley can have a louder voice at the state level.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

French Park

Have you been to French Park recently? This 275 acre Cincinnati park in the heart of Amberley Village is one of our most beautiful amenities, if not the most beautiful feature of Amberley. The park is the second largest park run by the Cincinnati Park Board, and we are very fortunate to live within such close proximity to its ever-changing scenery.

The trails in French Park can't be beat. With the addition of the new Amberley Trail built by the Israel Scouts and Mayor Mallory's Teen Summer Greanleaf Program, it's possible to run or walk five miles without every seeing the same scenery. It's impossible to get lost, because all trails lead down to the creek, which leads to the parking lot.

The Amberley Creek, a tributary of the Mill Creek, is a great place for fossil hunters or hikers who just want to escape the summer heat. There are plenty of surprises in the park too. Have you seen Mr. French's pet cemetary? I ran the trails this morning, and I was surprised by a new park improvement -- new stalls in the bathroom!

If it's been a while since you've visited the park, I suggest a visit this week. The wildflowers are in full bloom and are simply stunning!