By Tom Wurzelbacher
When I speak to someone from outside our neighborhood with a familiarity of Mt. Airy, it’s usually due to them driving through on Colerain Ave. or North Bend Rd. on their way to some other destination. If asked about our business district, the typical response is something like “That’s the neighborhood at the top of the hill with the big castle” followed by adjectives such as “drab”, “dilapidated” or “uninteresting”. If asked if they have seen the mural and gardens at Mt. Airy Commons, very few say they even notice it as they drive by. For anyone who has seen it, the negative perceptions of our community are eased and you may hear words such as “gorgeous”, “vibrant” or even “wow!”. We at Mt. Airy Cure are seeking to build upon this positive progress in many ways including improving both the visibility and functionality of the Commons.
Mt. Airy Commons lies in the heart of the business district at 5536 Colerain Ave between Little Brother Friends of the Elderly and Authentic Cutz. In addition to the area that is a public parking lot with an adjacent garden and a mural on the Little Brothers building, there is also a large undeveloped area directly behind it that is ripe for expansion. The garden has a meandering gravel path leading to this area. The Commons started in 2015 when the City of Cincinnati approved redevelopment of the property following the demolition of the old Klosterman Dry Cleaners building. A 23 space parking lot and lighting were added using funds obtained through community fundraising and governmental grants. Big steps were taken thereafter when LaSalle High School Art teacher Michael Knueven and some of his students generously took the lead in creating a fabulous mural that depicts Mt. Airy as a lovely, tree-filled community. Eagle Scout Ethan Miller made it his service project to plant trees, shrubs and flowers alongside the mural to further advance the beautification of the area. Expansion of the garden has taken place since and continued maintenance has occurred led by a dedicated group of Ohio Master Gardeners and the Mt. Airy CURE beautification committee.