New Trustees Elected

Fifty-three members of Clifton Town Meeting cast ballots on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, to elect seven trustees to seven open seats on the 15-member board. Twenty-five members voted electronically and 28 members voted in-person at the Clifton Recreation Center, 320 McAlpin Ave.

With terms beginning in January 2023, Gerald Checco, Barry Gee, Tim Noonan, Justin Ogilby, and John Whedon were each elected to 3-year terms. Rachel Wells was elected to a 2-year term, and Mansee Chauhun was elected to a 1-year term. Learn more about each candidate in this post.

Current trustees who were not up for election and will continue in their seats for another year include Genet Singh, Naghma Malik, Brendon Cull, and Mary Pat Lienhart. Continuing in their seats for another two years are Nestor Melnyk, Jan Brown Checco, Jayme Ritter and Michael Roller.

Leaving the board of trustees when their terms end in January 2023 are Robert Hamberg, Tim Maxey, and Zeeshan Tayeb.

Only current CTM members may vote in the annual trustee elections. You can renew or begin your membership by clicking here.

CTM Trustee Elections are Nov. 7

Vote in-person or request an electronic ballot

Mark your calendar for this year’s Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) elections on Nov. 7, 2022, with options to vote in-person or, by request, with an electronic ballot. Seven candidates are vying for seven open seats. Candidates with the most votes will fill five 3-year terms while candidates receiving fewer votes will fill one 2-year term and one 1-year term.

Only current members can vote. You can make your membership active online by clicking here. You must be an active member on Friday Nov 4 to vote electronically. You can also make your membership active at the in person elections.

If you wish to vote electronically, request a ballot no later than 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 by emailing contactctm@cliftoncommunity.org. The vote is anonymous, so those who request an electronic ballot will not be able to vote in person.

If you plan to vote in person, you can do so between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 at the Clifton Recreation Center, 320 McAlpin Ave.

Read on to learn more about this year’s candidates.

Mansee Chauhan

As I am becoming an urban planner, I wanted to be involved with the community where I live, engaging to know their concerns while working with them. I hope that with my skills, training and background as an urban planner, I will be an asset to the board. I wish to give back to community that has welcomed me. My coop experience and the classes that I have taken in past year and current year will help me to broaden my knowledge within real dynamic settings.

Gerald Checco

After 30 years spent as a public servant leading 4 agencies, I was elected to the CTM board in 2020. I was Treasurer for two years, then President in 2022. Among my accomplishments: I created a Memo of Understanding between the three Clifton civic groups (Clifton Business Association, Clifton Community Fund and CTM) that enables them to work more efficiently together maximizing effectiveness. I co-created CliftonCares during the pandemic to help our restaurants survive, and received a “Leadership in Crisis” award (2020). I organized 7 community volunteer cleaning events, earning a Keep Cincinnati Beautiful award (2021) and was recognized as “Friend of Clifton” (2021). I’ve helped to make the Chronicle financially selfsupporting and updated that mailing list. I obtained many grants on behalf of both CTM and CBA, managing the completion and reporting of these grants. I’ve volunteered for our cleanups, two Golf Outings, the Memorial Day Picnic and as a writer and distributor for the Chronicle. If elected, I intend to serve by fostering collaboration among our civic groups, developing win-win outcomes in every case, and by helping a new generation into a future of leadership.

Barry Gee

I have been serving on the CTM board for a few months in 2022 as a replacement for a Trustee who could not fulfill their term. I had the pleasure to lead the resurrection of the CTM Memorial Day Parade/Picnic and currently serve on the Events committee. We often hear discussion of the importance of community engagement, and I am pleased that through the work of CTM, here in Clifton community engagement is in the action phase. There are committees for many of the issues we are facing and we as a community are having a say and some control over what happens in our neighborhood. As a community we must always remain vigilant and be a proactive voice. I have seen directly that Clifton Town Meeting is an organized and effective organization, determining needs and building consensus for our community. I humbly ask for your vote as a Trustee and look forward to continuing to serve this great organization.

Tim Noonan

I’ve been serving on CTM by appointment since July 2022. I would like to continue the work I’ve begun on CTM’s accounting software, assuring that the treasurer’s duties are more easily transferable in the future. Our family moved to Clifton in 2017 after Karen and I retired from our jobs in Butler and Warren counties. We love this neighborhood and our neighbors and can’t imagine a better neighborhood for us. Besides the amazing people we have met in Clifton, we love Clifton’s “useful walkability.” It is so calming that so many necessary services are a short walk away. Supporting the safety and health of our business district should continue to be a CTM priority. Crime in Clifton is a major concern for many residents. We should continue our work with District 5 Police but should also look for actions CTM can lead to aid in crime reduction. The future will bring changes to how people move in our neighborhood. I have noticed a great increase in the use of electric bikes and I’ve seen incredibly fast electric scooters. CTM should continue its work to make Clifton’s transportation safe while staying aware of coming changes. I hope you will consider voting for me as a CTM board member.

Justin Ogilby

I first moved to Clifton to attend the University of Cincinnati and liked it so much that my wife and I bought our first house here in 2013. Elizabeth and I now live on Clifton Avenue with our 4 kids Jonah, Wesley, Ian and Isabell. Jonah and Wesley attend school at Fairview and Ian is in preschool at Immanuel. We are parishioners at Annunciation Church. Recently I’ve been involved with the CTM Transportation and Safety Committee, working on addressing safety issues along Clifton Avenue. Professionally, I’m an executive, board member and co-founder at STACK Construction Technologies, a software company in Blue Ash. On the CTM board I’ll work to continue to improve safety and quality of life for kids, families and all residents of Clifton.

Rachel Wells

As a car-free apartment dweller, I rely heavily on Clifton’s accessibility to greenspace and multimodal transportation. To me, the ability to walk through a dense canopy of trees and to entertainment, dining, retail and educational establishments is the rare mix that makes Clifton unique. I want all Clifton residents and visitors to feel welcome, included and valued. My career has included stints as a newspaper reporter, in communications and stakeholder engagement, and as a grant writer. I am currently a project manager for an education nonprofit. Throughout, I’ve worked to make systems more responsive to the communities they serve by building understanding and promoting civic participation. I’m eager to continue this effort as CTM trustee, and I believe my experience as a resident in multi-family housing and as a public transit user adds a valuable perspective to the board. I was appointed to fill a trustee vacancy in 2022 and now serve as co-chair of the communications committee and on the membership committee. I continue to volunteer as a writer and proofreader with the Clifton Chronicle. Going forward, I would like to encourage more and more diverse residents to participate in CTM and to expand content on CTM’s website.

John Whedon

I have been happy to be a Clifton resident now for 18 years and, like many of you, love our neighborhood’s beautiful parks, incredible architecture, mature trees and walkability. My family has enjoyed much that is here – from elementary education at Fairview, summers at Clifton Meadows, Clifton soccer on Spring Grove, great neighbors and block parties, and much more. No neighborhood is perfect, of course, and there areas of needed focus critical to Clifton’s viability. If elected to the board I would like to do what is possible to make the business district a more inviting place to be for shoppers, walkers, both residents and visitors to Clifton alike. This includes attracting the best possible retailers as well. Store theft, vagrancy, panhandling, litter, smoke shops are some areas of concern I have. I would also support the already growing effort to slow down traffic on Clifton Avenue. Clifton is great and can be so much better. Together we can make it happen.

Adolph Strauch: Great Garden Design in Clifton & Beyond

By Steve Schuckman

This article was first published in the Summer 2022 Clifton Chronicle.

Adloph Strauch and his family are buried at Spring Grove on an island in the lake near the entrance to the cemetery.

A chance meeting in London in 1851 began a relationship that shaped the way we experience parks and gardens in Cincinnati. Robert Bonner Bowler (owner of a Clifton estate that became Mt. Storm Park) was visiting the World Exposition at London’s Crystal Palace when he met Adolph Strauch, a Prussian gardener. During their garden tour conversation, Bowler invited Strauch to visit him in Cincinnatiif he was ever in America. Not long after, Strauch indeed did visit America. While waiting to change trains in Cincinnati for a cross-country trip, he recalled Bowler’s offer. He visited Bowler, who in turn invited him to stay to design the landscape of his estate. The master gardener decided that Cincinnati would be his new home, and the restas they sayis history.

Strauch (1822-1883) had studied in Vienna and worked at the Schonbrunn Palace gardens. The form and beauty he introduced at Bowler’s estate was noticed, and many wealthy Cincinnati residents contracted Strauch to redesign their own properties. It seemed everyone wanted a Strauch design, which eliminated fences and created flowing landscapes of lawns with stands of trees that framed views. He designed the grounds of Henry Probasco’s estate at Oakwood and George Schoenberger’s estate at Scarlet Oaks, among others. Though these landscapes are long gone, Probasco’s house remains on West Cliff Drive, and Schoenberger’s remains at Scarlet Oaks. 

Just three years after settling in Cincinnati in 1851, Strauch was hired to redesign and redefine the landscape in Spring Grove Cemetery, where he later became superintendent in 1859. His hand can be seen in the winding roads, lakes, the groupings of plantings, and his open lawn design, which became a model for other “garden” cemeteries that followed. He eliminated fencing and railings between plots to create a free-flowing design of space that he called a “landscape lawn plan,” introducing plants from around the world. He also designed other important cemeteries, including Forest Lawn in Buffalo and Oak Woods in Chicago. While still working at Spring Grove, Strauch became superintendent of parks (1871-1875) and designed Eden Park and Burnet Woods. 

Due in large part to Strauch’s work, Clifton became known as a garden spot of America, and our hilltop community took on the look of a single large park. An 1875 publication described Clifton as “…hill, dale, lawn, ravine, field and forest, interspersed with bright evergreens and shrubbery, blossom with shady nooks and sunny glades in which nestle the roomy, cool verandas and graveled walks of the fine homes of Clifton.” Strauch talked of his own designs as expressing “cheerfulness, luxuriance of growth, shade, solitude and repose amid scenery designed to imitate rural nature.” Other than the “Temple of Love” – an elegant domed landmark that covers the cistern over a reservoir that watered the gardens and greenhouses of the Bowler estate – little remains of Strauch’s landscape design there today. A recent effort to rejuvenate the park’s landscaping is inspired by the precepts of Strauch’s work.

The Clifton & Ludlow Crossroads of the 1890s

By Geoff Gelke, The History Buffs

This article was first published in the Summer 2022 Clifton Chronicle.

What could be more iconic to Clifton than the intersection of Clifton and Ludlow avenues?  It wasn’t always as it appears today. Let’s time-travel corner to corner:

Cincinnati Gas and Coke Company, office and agent’s home

The Southwest Corner: The beautiful Beaux Arts Firehouse No. 34 was built in 1906, designed by architect Harry Hake to house the fire vehicles and horses serving Clifton. The earlier firehouse had been included in the town hall/school complex located at Clifton and Central (now McAlpin) avenues. The complex was becoming so run down that Mr. Balsch – resident of the grand McDonald mansion next door – complained that he wouldn’t send his son there. Hence the impetus to build a new school in 1905, and a new firehouse in 1906. To relocate the firehouse to Clifton and Ludlow, an 1883 building designed by famed architect Samuel Hannaford was demolished. The Hannaford structure had been home to the Cincinnati Gas & Coke Company and its district agent George Dury and family.

The Northwest Corner:  The three-story commercial red brick building dates to the 1880s, when attorney Joseph Bley’s offices were on the first floor. Soon after came Adolf Meyer’s grocery store with modifications to the first floor exterior into the commercial appearance of today, with Meyer’s initials above a corner front door. The grocery was succeeded for decades by Dow Drugs until Adrian Durban Florist settled into their remarkably colorful shop.

The Northeast Corner: Built in the 1880s as a drug store for Byrne and Company Drugs with apartments above, this handsome Dutch Colonial building later housed Stier Drugs in 1907. Modernizations to the store’s exterior are reflected in the recently restored Art Deco logo. Stier thrived into the 1950s before finally transitioning in 1966 to our famed Skyline Chili parlor. 

The Southeast Corner: The Diggs Fountain and Burnet Woods trailhead at the foot of the hill were not always there. Examine the old 1891 property lines map – this area was full of buildings! The home and stables of road contractor Thomas J. Howard were accompanied by at least six additional residences leading up to the park’s entrance on Brookline. One resident of note was Frederick Bissinger, the famous candy manufacturer. Around 1905 to 1907, Cincinnati Parks purchased and rezoned this triangular-shaped four-acre parcel. Down went the buildings and in went the plantings! An 1870s gift of woodlands made to the city from Clifton barons Robert Burnet and William Groesbeck, the parkland honored patriarch and Cincinnati icon Jacob Burnet. Burnet Woods originally covered 170 acres, whittled to about half that by the turn of the century by an ever-expanding University of Cincinnati campus. Today Burnet Woods covers about 90 acres. Cincinnati Parks made up for the loss of greenspace elsewhere in their system at other properties, including Ault Park.

Map of Clifton and Ludlow avenues in 1891