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Environment

A Burnet Woods group wants changes to the Cincinnati Park Board. Members say it doesn't accurately represent the city

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Preserve Burnet Woods
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Courtesy
This city park has been the discussion of various proposals Preserve Burnet Woods members say were forced on them. They commissioned a study that recommends the Park Board be restructured.

A new report the group commissioned examines the history of the board and how other cities govern their park space.

For some, Burnet Woods seems ripe for development. In 2018, there was a proposal to build the Clifton Community Arts Center inside the 90-acre park near the University of Cincinnati. That was rejected 3-2, as WVXU reported.

At the same time, the Camping and Education Foundation wanted to build a “living” building inside the park. That was also rejected.

The foundation tried its request again in 2020 but facing controversy, withdrew it.

“It wasn’t just the proposals, it was the way that they were handled and what I thought was a very heavy-handed interaction,” says Preserve Burnet Woods Board Member David Stradling.

The group wants more of a say when it comes to this nature preserve in the center of the city and decided to commission a study paid for by the Stephen H.  Wilder Foundation.

The study looked at the history of the Cincinnati Park Board, its make up and how other cities govern their parks.

Stradling says 100 years ago, the city took advantage of the knowledge and skills of white businessmen.

“That model for tapping into white business expertise to solve civic problems strikes us as being archaic and out of step with interest in creating a truly democratic structure that is more reflective of interest in social justice,” he says.

The study suggests:

  • Doing away with the Cincinnati Park Board
  • Making board members more representative of the community
  • Requiring certain credentials for board members like a background in resource management

Preserve Burnet Woods is getting some feedback and would like to have a conversation with the community after the election.
The Cincinnati Park board didn’t comment in time for this story.