With streetcar issue voted on, what's next?

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Key players on both sides of the streetcar issue spoke out Wednesday following the vote that will allow work to continue on the hotly debated city project.

"This is not once but twice the citizens of the city of Cincinnati have said 'Yes, we want progress; build the streetcar'," Councilwoman Quinlivan said. "So now we finally get to do it."

Opponents, however, say the battle is not won.

"No it's not over, it's not over at all," argued C.O.A.S.T co-founder Tom Brinkman. "Until the city returns to fiscal responsibility, takes care of the pension problems, makes sure the pools stay open, we really can't afford this streetcar."

Quinlivan believes the city cannot afford not to build it. After initially being skeptical about the project, a trip to see a streetcar in action in Portland in 2009 changed her mind. She thinks as time goes on opponents will get on board too. Quinlivan argues the project will provide an economic boost for the city by creating jobs and luring in new residents.

"I'm sure, nobody likes to lose," Quinlivan said."The thing is, this happens in every city that does it. Maybe not to this extent, but those folks eventually, once it's built, see that 'Oh, OK now I get it'."

"Absolutely not," Brinkman said in disagreement. "She has been living in a dream world; she has been one of the problems. She doesn't address the pension problems or the fiscal problems of the city."

Quinlivan argues the streetcar is not the source of the cities woes and has faith the new council will be able to build the streetcar in addition to balancing the budget.

"It is the democrats on council that are willing to make the tough cuts that have been avoided for two years because we had this conservative majority that refused to cut any public safety spending," she said.

If the money problems mount, however, Brinkman says another petition could be on the horizon.

"Certainly they've got to figure out a way to get it done and if they don't we will go back to the ballot box," he said. "They can't be building a streetcar when they haven't addressed the pension issues and the fiscal long term stability of the city."

A spokesperson for the city says they are in the process of choosing the streetcars they'll use. City officials will be reviewing the options at the end of the month and making the final decision in February. In the meantime, the city continues to work to finalize utility agreements and design the track.

According to the chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, there is still a possibility for a recount. A recount would be mandatory if the percentage difference between 'yes' and 'no' votes is less than point five percent. The chairman says there are still up to 7,000 provisional ballots left to count.

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