Board Votes Down Washington Park Rules

The Cincinnati Park Board voted Sept. 20 to end Park Rule 28, which allowed the Park Board to enact new rules by placing signs on Washington Park grounds.

The Cincinnati Park Board voted Sept. 20 to end Park Rule 28, which allowed the Park Board to enact new rules by placing signs on Washington Park grounds.

The signs, which the city could use to enforce any park rule as law, recently came under fire by homeless advocate groups. In a statement, Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, wrote, “Park Rule 28 allowed opening for the back-room creation of the special rules in Washington Park that were written by an employee of the Police Department, a couple of Park Board employees and (Cincinnati Center Development Corporation) employees — completely without the input of the public or any legislative body or process.”

Before the Park Board vote, homeless advocate groups claimed the rules were being written away from public view — in part by private companies. Jerry Davis, member of the Homeless Congress, cited 3CDC’s involvement in the rule writing as an example: “3CDC is a private corporation that does not answer to the Citizens of Cincinnati. This private group should not get to decide what rules are created and enforced.”

Three Over-the-Rhine residents, including Davis, sued the Park Board on Sept. 4 to put an end to the signs. In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Spring claimed the park rules “discriminate against certain classes of people” — specifically, the homeless and poor.

Despite the Park Board vote, the lawsuit will continue. The city will file to dismiss the lawsuit and claims the lawsuit should never have been brought forward. Aaron Herzig, deputy city solicitor, says the signs were taken down weeks before the lawsuit and the only rules remaining are the rules officially published by the Park Board. (German Lopez)

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