Great Parks group to return $200k donation - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Great Parks group to return $200k donation

Great Parks, Great Neighborhoods, Inc. plans to return a $200,000 donation Thursday amid allegations of possible misuse of funds. (FOX19 NOW/file) Great Parks, Great Neighborhoods, Inc. plans to return a $200,000 donation Thursday amid allegations of possible misuse of funds. (FOX19 NOW/file)

Great Parks, Great Neighborhoods, Inc. announced Thursday it plans to return a $200,000 donation amid allegations of possible misuse of funds.

The non-profit organization's spokesman, Charlie Luken, released the following statement:

“Our number one priority is to support Cincinnati Parks and the passage of Issue 22, the Cincinnati Parks Levy. In recent days, a particular contribution to our organization has come in dispute.

"Though we strongly believe that contribution from the private Meyer Fund held by the Cincinnati Park Board was, and is, above board, it has no doubt become a distraction to our goal of supporting the parks and passing Issue 22. That is why we plan to return the contribution to the Meyer Fund.

"Our parks are one Cincinnati’s greatest assets, and the passage of Issue 22 will guarantee that they are maintained and enhanced for our children and all future issues. I hope that now this matter is behind us that the public dialogue can return to where it ought to be: the merits and importance of this policy.”

The Helen Meyer Trust managed by the Cincinnati Park Board made the contribution. The money was turned over by the board to Great Parks, Great Neighborhoods, Inc., a 501(c)(4)organization.

Park board officials have insisted no tax dollars were used in the donation, but anti-Issue 22 and tax watchdogs claim the contribution is illegal.

If Issue 22 is passed on Nov 3 ballot, 25 percent of the annual revenue will be made available to the Board of Park Commissioners for any purpose permitted except for the payment of debt service on parks department land and facilities, according to the ballot language. The other 75 percent of the annual revenue will be used with a capital program recommended by the Mayor of Cincinnati. 

The levy will cost around $35 a year for an owner of a $100,000 home, according to the Cincinnati Preservation Association.  

It also would have a $152 million economic impact and create more jobs over the next decade, according to a UC Economic Center report.

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