Washington Park garage opens in Over-the-Rhine

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - A 450 space parking garage beneath Washington Park is now open.

The parking spaces are spread between two levels and the garage boasts easy access to the street.

The garage is part of a $48 million renovation project which is expected to promote development and encourage business.

Renovations to the park are nearly complete with a reopening ceremony set for July 1st.

Cincinnati Parks Director Willie Carden says he can hardly wait for the reopening. "I'm really excited about what this park is going to do, how we've expanded and the different pieces that are going to be in here," he said.

Carden says the two acre park will have an historic bandstand, performance stage and a granite events plaza.

He added that the park will also include, "A huge civic lawn so we can bring the wonderful things that are going on in Music Hall outside for the general public, a dog park and an adventure play area for children that you've never seen before....it's going to be fantastic."

Stanton Black, who grew up in Over the Rhine, says the renovation couldn't come at a better time. "I think it's wonderful for the community, for the kids, for the new people moving in. I think it's a great idea."

Critics claim that the park will discourage the homeless, but City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson says, "We don't want homeless people living in this park.  We want everyone to enjoy this park. We want homeless people to get the resources they need so that they can become stable members of our society."

In our commitment to balanced news FOX19 reached out to Josh Spring with the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition to get his side of the story. Spring says, "There's nothing wrong with development, but its a problem when it forces people out of the way."

Spring also says the park seems to be geared more for tourists than the community.

"There is a trend of companies not wanting to be around people that have lower incomes than themselves," Spring said. "It's the same at the Anna Louise Inn, the same as the fight with the City Gospel Mission, it's the same as 3CDC trying to force the drop in center out of the neighborhood. It's saying we don't want people with lower incomes near us."

Spring says members of the homeless coalition will be keeping a close watch to make sure that everyone who wants to visit the park is allowed to do so.

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