Colerain Township, OH

Colerain Trustees Evict 400 Kids from Park

The Cincinnati Post

The Colerain Township Trustees (Matt Wahlert, Dan Unger, and Kathy Ulrich) issued a letter late last year, essentially and effectively, evicting 400 children, the majority of whom are minorities, from Groesbeck Park in order to build a new firehouse.

Now, their time is up.

The 200 football players and 200 cheerleaders belong to the Colerain Cardinals Youth Football program, commonly known as the “Little Cards.” It has operated at Groesbeck Park under various names since 1967. The Aston family donated almost 20 acres to the Groesbeck Improvement Association in 1946 and “dedicated” it as the “Community Recreation Park” in 1969, after extinguishing their relationship with its fire prevention arm in 1964.

The trustees took ownership of the property in 2000, expressly to continue the use as a park. Taxpayers invested $1.4 million for park renovations funded for “green space” and “recreational activities” through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Now, the trustees want to convert the park to fire services in order to shave some money off the costs of a new firehouse. Despite the lease between the township and the Little Cards not being up until 2031, the trustees want them out - now - without cause, by exercising an escape clause in their lease providing for the township's "need" for the property.

This year, half of the Little Card’s participants were relegated outside the park’s property to an abandoned football field next door. A temporary fix to a much bigger - and permanent problem.

As the sport’s season closes out, the township wants them gone – for good, despite knowing there are no available, affordable fields to accommodate the organization's program.

The township has moved heavy equipment into the parking lot displacing the mini vans, sweaty kids, and lots of positive energy.

Residents are upset with trustees. Kristen Siciliano Richey posted on Facebook,

Almost made me cry, watching all the kids at practice last night while a big sign sits on the field with what they are building there.”

Carrie Davis, Director of Greater CommUNITY Groups, Inc. (formerly Child Advocacy for Rights and Equity), saved this park once before when a nonprofit attempted to make the property into a "private" park. Davis won that round when the ODNR ordered the township to open the park to the public or return the $1.4 million used to renovate it. Davis says that the township doesn’t “need” the property, they merely want this land to save a little money at the kids' expense.

The township recently had enough extra money laying around in petty cash reserves to buy Sears at Northgate Mall for $2.2 million, but want to build a firehouse on the backs of these kids. It’s unconscionable.

Davis asserts, "The fire department has options; these 400 kids don't". She states that there is another park right down the road with far fewer visitors and sufficient space to build a firehouse on its frontage. She says,

The township doesn't "need" this property; the kids in Colerain do.
Over 400 kids being evicted from Groesbeck Park by Colerain Township Trustees to make room for a new fire stationPhoto byThe Cincinnati Post, October 2023
Football practices at Groesbeck Park fill the park with 200 players, 200 cheerleaders, siblings, and parents all together.Photo byThe Cincinnati Post, October 2023
Trustees defy ODNR prohibiting construction without their approval, but brings in heavy equipment and signage upsetting players and parents.Photo byThe Cincinnati Post, October 2023

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