I follow many local blogposts, discussion boards and the like and one thing is readily apparent. Westwood residents feel "dumped on" by the city and that, in my opinion, is a valid point.
When you drive through Westwood you see what was once a clean well kept community with a strong sense of neighborhood, rich architectural heritage. In just about any OTHER city, Westwood would be the "premiere neighborhood", the neighborhood everyone aspires to live in. Large comfortable late Victorian and early 20 homes would be selling for 5 times what they currently are. It's downtown business district would be filled with antique shops , art galleries and trendy stores. Its streets would be in great condition, well lighted and people would feel safe and secure.
But that is not the case. Harrison Ave is littered with cheap apartments. Once grand single family homes are cobbled into 7-10 apartments. The streets are crowded with cars due to lack of proper off street parking because many of these "apartments' are illegal conversions, done without permits. People loiter about and it is obvious that criminal activity is happening. Queen City is much the same way. Westwoods business district has vacant shops.
There are bright spots, however, you see "enclaves' of well kept homes with manicured lawns that show great pride and interest in their community, But for every group of well kept homes there is that "eyesore" property that drags the entire neighborhood down.
The residents of Westwood are mad. They are mad at a city that they feel is not listening. They are tired of watching their property values go down, of people with no interest in being a part of their community get a "free ride" and not be responsible residents.
Residents took matters into their own hands and boarded a property on Harrison. A property owned by out of state investors with no interest in being part of a community, and the city tries to make them out to be the "bad guys" for CARING about the way their community looks. http://www.building-cincinnati.com/2009/05/police-response-to-westwood-boarders.html
I get a lot of email from people in Westwood who read my blog and see what we are trying to do in our own little neighborhood of Knox Hill, how we are trying to breakaway from the "negative" image of Fairmount, to basically turnaround the neighborhood and "Just do it" . People also know I am not afraid to "call it as I see it" and challenge city officials to do better.
So to the residents of Westwood. It is obvious to me the city isn't listening, It is obvious the Council doesn't care, or the mayor for that matter. In my opinion the time has come for
"PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENT" of City Government, the Mayor, the council and everyone responsible. It IS an election year so the members of the council want to keep their 62,000 a year jobs.
My suggestion: The residents of Westwood need to petition the city for "DeAnnexation"! I know, sounds outlandish, doesn't it? But imagine the national publicity if a town, FED up with a city Government that isn't listening, that doesn't care, has to deal with Press from all accross the country asking them about a town wanting to Deannex itself from a major American City! Westwood a town that has been a part of Cincinnati for over a hundred years wants to leave because the city of Cincinnati is not holding up its part of the bargain and providing proper enforcement and city services. Imagine our Mayor on "Good Morning America" or the Today show trying to explain why residents want to cut ties from HIS government? How would he react to a yard sign campaign of residents with "Mayor Mallory, are you listening" OR 'Mayor Mallory, fix it or let us go!" Imagine the National Evening news: "The residents of Westwood, in an unheard of move, are formally petitioning the city of Cincinnati to "DeAnnex" itself from the city because of that city's failure to provide services."
The PR for Westwood is PRICELESS and the city is "put on the spot', ina very big way. The issues that are out there, that the city has chosen to ignor for far too long are now in the "Public light of day". Would the organizers of such a bold move be labeled "crackpots", probably, until the signatures started flowing, the protest yard signs popped up and it gets picked up as national story. I bet THEN the mayor and the council might like to have a conversation?
Now 'could' Westwood deannex its self and form its own city government? Probably not, BUT the amount of attention it would draw to city officials and the national level "hot seat' it puts them in , would probably result in them DOING THEIR JOB!