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For Good

OTR children and parents petition to "Keep Our Courts"

Students at and residents around Rothenberg Academy are trying to protect a community space from development

A public park sits at the corner of Main and Schiller streets across from Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine, with a few basketball courts where neighborhood children play after school and a nonprofit-operated community eco-garden that offers organic produce. Behind and surrounding the courts and garden are affordable apartment buildings owned by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH).
The area has become a space of interest for Northpointe Group, which wants to buy the land and establish Rothenberg Row, a group of 21 single-family homes costing between $400,000 and $600,000 each. This new construction would mean the destruction of the basketball courts, housing developments and half the community garden.
Northpointe’s proposal has struck a chord with parents in the community, raising concerns for the rapidly changing neighborhood and their children who are growing up in it.
In collaboration with Children's Creative Corner at OTRCH, Peaslee Neighborhood Center and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, residents have written a petition asking Northpointe for three things: keep the basketball courts in place for public use, leave the eco-garden remains untouched and cater plans for residential development to affordable housing that meets the needs of the community.
“We can’t afford to sacrifice access to safe play, healthy foods, green community space and enrichment opportunities for more private profit,” a group letter to Cincinnati City Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission says. “Let’s instead commit our efforts to working toward good neighbor development with community need at heart!’”
More than 400 supporters have signed the petition, but it’s not just the adults who are rallying for the area.
Recently, some of the neighborhood kids silently dribbled basketballs in front of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council in protest of the proposal. They started circulating petition postcards at the park and created a stop-motion animation video to show what they value about their community. They even created “Keep Our Courts” campaign buttons at the library’s Maker Space.
Those same kids joined their parents at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting at City Hall this week, showing their unified support of protecting the park where they play.
Do Good:

• “Like” Keep Our Courts on Facebook to stay up to date on current events.  

Sign the petition to protect the basketball courts and eco-garden.

• Watch the YouTube video the kids made to show what they value about their community.

Read more articles by Jayna Morris.

Jayna Morris is a contributing writer and editor for Soapbox. Learn more about her at www.jaynabarker.weebly.com.
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