Cincinnati Parks will change its policies and offer special use permit fee waivers for groups providing free community services after a group of activists and musicians protested those fees this week.
Triiibe, a popular band and activist group, has been holding a monthly event called "Potluck for the People" in Piatt Park since January. The event offers free food, haircuts, basic medical care and other services to people experiencing homelessness.
Three days before Triiibe's May event, parks officials told the group they would be assessed a $450 fee for continuing to hold the event. The day after the May 27 Potluck for the People, officials sent an invoice for $450 to the mother of one of the event's organizers.
After parks officials informed Triiibe about the fees, the group took to social media and pushed to have the fees waived. CityBeat and several other outlets also wrote about the situation.
Today, parks officials announced they are working with United Way and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation to reach solutions so situations like Triiibe's don't happen again.
Siri Imani, an organizer for Potluck for the People, says officials have told her they will waive the fees assessed against her mother, Jennie Wright, and amend park policy so that Triiibe and similar groups don't face the same situation in the future.
“Our parks are public spaces and should be used for the benefit of those we have the privilege of serving,” Cincinnati Parks Director Wade Walcutt said in a statement today. "We’re thankful for this opportunity to take a broader look at our practices. Just because it’s not the way we’ve always done things isn’t an excuse to continue doing things the same way. We are confident these changes will allow us to advance this mission, build better lives and build a better Cincinnati. We appreciate United Way, Cincinnati Parks Foundation and other partners who have offered or given their support.”