Comments made at Groundbreaking

for Kennedy Heights Cultural Center

Thursday, June 14, 2012

by Ernie Barbeau, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Kennedy Heights Development Corporation


Ten years ago, who among us would have imagined that our neighborhood of 5,600 residents would have the capacity, if not the guts, to develop a cultural center in KH, a $3 million project? For Kennedy Heights this is a delicious and marvelous day. We have, without question, come a long way—a journey that began more than six years ago and a journey that highlights the value of having a vision, a plan, patience, transparency, involvement of neighbors as Trustees at the right time with the right skills, and of course, having a sense of humor.

Without question, our groundbreaking captures the essence and spirit of the City’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program. Before we begin the groundbreaking ceremony, I would like to publicly recognize and express thanks to the City of Cincinnati and City Council for their critical support that has enabled us to fulfill the Cultural Center redevelopment plan for the focal point in our neighborhood.

I also want to say thanks to the fifteen volunteers who serve as Trustees for the Redevelopment Corporation. The Corporation was reestablished in 2007, after being inactive for 25 years. I am very proud of our Trustees. Over the past five years they have given thousands of hours of volunteer time to our neighborhood and have generously given their creativity, skills, and financial support. I would like the ten Trustees who are present to please wave their hand.

Today’s groundbreaking event will not be the traditional groundbreaking but instead be an unveiling of our Coming Soon billboard. Immediately after the unveiling I will make a few comments.

The building before you will house three non-profit partners, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, and Kennedy Heights Arts Center. Would the following persons please join me for unveiling of the billboard: Teresa Davis Mulligan, Secretary of the Board for the Development Corporation; David Linnenberg, Deputy Director of Institutional Advancement for the Art Museum; Marybeth Schneider, Executive Director of the Montessori Center; and, Ellen Muse Lindeman, Executive Director of the Arts Center; and members of City Council (Quinlivan, Seelbach, Simpson, Thomas, and Young), City Manager (Milton Dohoney), Chief of Police (James Craig), and a manager with the City’s Department of Economic Development (Bill Fischer).

Mr. Dohoney, would you be kind enough to join us and do the unveiling’s count down?

The three non-profit organizations previously introduced have agreed to be partners to provide the following services and programs at this location:

The Cincinnati Art Museum needs more storage space for their paintings and artifacts. Many of the paintings will be open for viewing by you and me. In turn, the Museum will be establishing its first off-campus outreach center.

The Kennedy Heights Arts Center will have a satellite space that will offer two services—10 artist studios and a multipurpose event room.

The Kennedy Heights Montessori Center will move from its temporary quarters to this facility which will provide them with more square footage and more functional space. This will enable them to serve more pre-school children.

Without these partners we would not have a cultural center in Kennedy Heights. Construction will begin in September. We expect the grandopening to be held by April 1, 2013—and that will not be a joke on you or me.

Redevelopment of this property has been a long journey. An important element of that journey has been the collaborative and partnership relationships we have established with previously mentioned organizations, and District A—a unique arts district established collaboratively by residents of Kennedy Heights and Pleasant Ridge.

As I look at the preschoolers with us today, I am reminded of a question that has guided the Corporation’s Board whenever one of the 20 redevelopment proposals was brought to us about this property. Can this redevelopment proposal significantly enhance our business district for a long period of time? I therefore hope that some of the preschoolers with us today from our Montessori Center will participate in celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Cultural Center in the year 2038. Of course, by the 25th anniversary I will, as my father would say, be pushing daisies!

The Cultural Center has the potential to transform our business district and transform what you and I think about our precious neighborhood. The word transform captures the fact that our neighborhood is at a crossroad. The Cultural Center provides us the opportunity to be a unique and viable arts-oriented business district and a model for other urban neighborhoods. Regrettably, transformation will not occur because we wish it to happen. Transformation will occur only if you and future generations are willing to take the risks involved in leading change—not just reacting to change. Transformation will occur if you and I are willing to invest time, creativity, energy, and financial support for the Cultural Center and other transformative avenues. As you leave this groundbreaking event, I sincerely hope you will ask yourself what should be your role in transforming Kennedy Heights.

EJB

Revised 6-18-12

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