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Lick Run Greenway, a $103M solution to a years-long problem, is South Fairmont 'starting again'

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Posted at 6:10 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 17:20:18-04

CINCINNATI — The Lick Run Greenway, a new park between Queen City and Westwood avenues in South Fairmount, began its life as a court-ordered solution to the 400 million gallons of raw sewage overflowing into Mill Creek from Cincinnati sewers each year.

It’ll solve the problem, Metropolitan Sewer District Diana Christy said Tuesday at the project’s official opening. The $103 million bio-engineered greenway collects stormwater, keeping it out of the sewers, and funnels it directly into Mill Creek.

Officials with MSD said they've already seen nine new species of fish in the creek, signaling that the water is getting cleaner.

"Before this project, there was no drop of water, no drop of rain that could make its way to the creek without first getting mixed with sewage," said MSD chief operating officer Marylynn Lodor. "If you stop and think about that… every gallon that we see running through the Lick Run Greenway, that is avoided combined sewer overflows.”

But South Fairmount community advocates also hope it will help to revitalize the neighborhood through which it runs.

“It's that community asset that finds a way to bring people together,” said South Fairmount Community Council president Jim Casey on Tuesday. “Once you have that attraction, people say, ‘Maybe there are some opportunities to build something new. Maybe there is an opportunity rehab something existing.’”

Dorothy Bush, who has lived in South Fairmount for nearly three decades, remembers a vibrant neighborhood that transformed — not always for the better — over the course of her residency. Vacant homes, shuttered businesses and crime have plagued the area.

The greenway, which has walking paths, a playground and a stream, represents more of what she’d like to see in her home.

“It’s just the crown,” she said. “It’s the crown. It’s a jewel.”

Casey agreed.

“I guess I would describe it as reborn or rebirth,” he said. “We're starting again, and we have something here that we can build upon."