Keep our courts and garden; ensure that public space serves community!
This petition had 799 supporters
“This place is valuable to me because my history here is infinite.” – Kevin
Kevin is a 14-year-old Over-the-Rhine resident who, alongside several peers, has recently organized some local activism around public space in his rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood. These youth are especially concerned with a city-owned public plot of land at Main St. and Schiller St., across from the neighborhood’s public elementary school. On this plot sits a few public basketball courts where local children like Kevin regularly play, and a non-profit-operated community eco garden that offers organic produce, education, and job-training for neighborhood youth. It is a peaceful place, valued by residents without backyards—families who depend on recreation spaces that don’t require payment or invitation.
A new proposal for private, high-end residential development at this location would privatize the land, eliminate the public courts, and threaten the existence of a drastically reduced community eco garden. Despite multiple requests, the private developer—NorthPointe Group—has neglected to meet with directly-affected residents hoping to share their concerns with NorthPointe’s plan to establish Rothenberg Row—a group of 20+ single-family homes, each costing around $500,000. (The location lies next to Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, where over 99% of the student body is low-income.) Included in the proposal is a pre-existing, vacant building that has been saved with the help of hundreds of thousands of dollars in city funds. NorthPointe plans to use this for 8 rental units of "workforce housing" with rents estimated to be about $900/month for a one-bedroom apartment—well above the city’s average market rates.
NorthPointe Group is pressing for financial support for the project from the city of Cincinnati; city government is considering plans to offer this 76,000-square-foot area of public land to NorthPoint at a substantially low cost.
In recent years, the city of Cincinnati has contributed many public resources to stimulate development in this urban core area, and we’ve seen dramatic market-rate, for-profit growth. This growth has done little for long-term residents on the economic margins-- folks who should be served best by resources for the common good—and has also come with the negative effects of gentrification. We need to make it clear that public assets should be used to meet the community needs that market development has thus far neglected-- needs like affordable housing, decent jobs, and quality education for low-income residents.
Join us in standing up for our kids and families, and calling upon our public servants at City Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) to take seriously their responsibilities as stewards of this collective asset. We can’t afford to sacrifice access to safe play, community green space, healthy foods, and enrichment opportunities for more private profit. Let’s instead commit our efforts to working toward good neighbor development with community need at heart!
We ask that:
1) Our basketball courts remain in place, owned and operated for public use by CRC
2) Our eco garden remains, excluded from the private development deal, for continued community programs
3) Plans for residential development on the remaining public land require affordable housing that meets community need and established targets for mixed-income development
This petition is a product of collaboration between Over-the-Rhine residents and community-based organizations including Children's Creative Corner at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Peaslee Neighborhood Center, and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
For more info and ways to get more deeply involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-621-5514.
Related links: Keep Our Courts- Facebook page
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