West End Community Council members hire a lawyer as they prepare to negotiate with FC Cincinnati

CINCINNATI -- The long-running saga of false starts, false finishes, news conferences and bargains leading up to -- Jeff Berding hopes -- the eventual construction of a $250 million soccer-specific stadium in the West End continued Tuesday night in another meeting of the neighborhood's community council.

The West End is a majority-black and traditionally low-income sector of the city where many residents agree new investment is necessary, but other residents and some black city leaders have repeatedly voiced suspicions that welcoming such a large, expensive project into their neighborhood could have a devastating effect on the people who already live there. 

RELATED: Can FC Cincinnati convince West End a stadium deal will work?

There's another fear nipping at their heels, however, lawyer Kristen Myers said: That arriving at an intracommunity consensus about what would constitute an equitable Community Benefits Agreement will take longer than FC Cincinnati is willing to give.

 "We're afraid that if we go in and negotiate something tomorrow and wait to bring it back to this body, that train is going," she said.

West End Community Council president Keith Blake already signed off on a Community Benefits Agreement with the team, but other members of the council claimed he hadn't consulted with them before doing so and called for his impeachment soon after.

"I would like to see the whole plan myself, personally," longtime West End resident George Lee said. "(I care about) parking, traffic issues, issues for seniors. Things like that would probably be helpful."

FC Cincinnati will meet with an ad-hoc committee of other community representatives Tuesday to address some of the things they believe Blake overlooked. At that point, the terms of the agreement might be adjusted before it goes to a City Council committee.

If they ask for more time after that, however, Myers worries the team will simply walk away. She'll represent the ad-hoc committee as they attempt to do what critics believe Blake didn't.

This might be West End residents' last chance.

"I know this body ratifies anything that is done," she said. "The problem is, we don't have time for that."

The details of the Community Benefits Agreement will not become public until after City Council votes on it.

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