Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Washington Park Pool from 2008 with Music Hall in the background.

The pool has been closed. ©Melvin Grier

Consider yourself fortunate if there are places from your childhood that you can visit. I'm talking about possibly a grade school building, a house where you grew up, a park or theatre. Many of us have lost that part of our past. To serve progress every building, including the one I grew up in, in the West End was torn down. This includes three schools, three churches and seven theaters . Progress comes and poor people move on. Parts of Over the Rhine are looking very up-scale these days. It wasn't too long ago that 12th and Vine was a gathering spot for loiterers, now it's shops and restaurants that serve the more affluent that are moving into OTR. The poor people move on.

A few years ago I covered a walking tour of the 12th and Vine area when some of the above mentioned changes were in their early stage. There was talk future residents would include those of mixed incomes. I was and remain skeptical.

A block or so from 12th and Vine is situated Washington Park, greenspace in the middle of bricks and concrete, a place to relax on a park bench and watch life go by. Of late that life has been on the raw side. You are more likely to see someone urinate on a tree than toss a frisbee. I had many assignments there to document the park's problems, perceived or real. Washington Park is a convenient target to point out the least desirable aspects such as loitering and litter. This past week a woman was run over and killed by a Cincinnati police officer as he drove off the park's paved roadway. The question: who should the park serve? This valuable oasis of green that is neighbor to Music Hall, Memorial Hall, and the just completed School for the Creative and Performing Arts is slated to undergo a major change. After the change is effected we can expect to see fewer homeless people in the park. Families may picnic, dogs may romp, frisbees may fly. The poor will move on.