Cincinnati Park Board changes the rules; no more lying down on park benches

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Park Board has changed its rules to prohibit anyone from lying down on park benches or ledges.  The new rule applies to all Cincinnati Parks and all park-goers, at all times.

In a statement released Tuesday, Park Board Public Information Officer Deborah Allison said, "The Cincinnati Park Board—which is charged with ensuring the safety and welfare of citizens using City park spaces— reiterates that the most recent revisions to the Park Board Rules were intended only to clarify the policies that the Administration currently follows and to ensure that the City's parks remain clean, safe, and reliable places for the entire community.  Understanding the reasons behind the new rules requires that they be viewed in context, and in their entirety. Rule 37, Lying Upon Park Property, was enacted only to ensure the enjoyment of the parks by the general public. Rule 37 does NOT, in any way, prevent families from having picnics in the grass, sunbathing, or generally lying in the grass of any City park. Furthermore, Rule 37 only prohibits lying upon park benches because such activity utilizes the entire bench space and prevents other persons from sitting on the benches.  Lying upon a ledge is potentially dangerous to the individual and could cause damage to park infrastructure as park ledges are not intended to support such use.

The parks were created for public use and the rules and policies are in place to ensure a more enjoyable experience for everyone."

The Park Board has not said the rule change is in response to the recent camp out at Piatt Park by the Occupy Cincinnati movement.  But Occupy Cincinnati lawyer Rob Linneman told FOX19, "That's one of the things you see with rules like this is that they have unintended consequences again I don't know that this is a response to occupy Cincinnati but if it is it's also going to impact other people. "

Josh Spring, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, believes the rule unfairly targets groups like the homeless who spend more time outside.

"We believe that is the park board attempting to flex its corporate muscle to say we're going to control this land and you can't do anything we don't want you to," said Spring.

Spring also says the new rule goes against the entire existence of parks, as places to relax.

The rule change was made at the meeting of the Park Board on Dec. 15.  Those found in violation of this or any other park rule can be cited for a misdemeanor and could face a $150 fine.

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