3 Lytle Park trees chopped down before court halts it

Now, activists are fighting to save the last tree

3 Lytle Park trees chopped down before court halts it
Kathleen Brinkman is leading the fight to save four 50-year-old London Plane trees located along Fourth Street in Lytle Park. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer/Mark Wert)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - Three of four 50-year-old London Plane trees were chopped down in Lytle Park Thursday before an appeals court ordered the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board to stop.

An attorney representing activists fighting the removal of the trees, Paul DeMarco, filed a temporary restraining order Thursday.

“The park commissioners knew they couldn’t win in court, so they rushed to cut down as many trees as they could before a court could weigh in," he said. “That’s what cowards do."

While the court has halted, for now, the removal of more trees, residents are seeking a more permanent one to save the final tree.

The case will go to court July 29.

A spokesman for Cincinnati Parks, Rocky Merz, said the Lytle Park Project has been planned for a long time now and received all the necessary approves including unanimous decisions from the Historic Conservation Board and the Zoning Board and Appeals.

“Moving forward the project - providing a net gain of 29 trees and made possible through private funding - will provide a brand new park for the entire community to enjoy,” he said.

But for some residents on Fourth Street, the park and its trees have a lot of history and mean a lot.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years,” said Kathleen Brinkman.

She participated in a 2006 community planning process to redesign Lytle Park. While she concedes it needed updating, she said several people in the community agreed the trees should stay.

"Most of the new trees that will be planted will be 4 1/2 in diameter or less it will be many years before they reach any kind of maturity and provide any shade," said Brinkman.

Even with the complaints, the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board voted cut the trees down and last month the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the decision that allows the Park Board to carry it out.

Brinkman says she was planning to appeal, which would have delayed the removal of the trees.

But she said Thursday she learned the board beat her to it and started cutting down three of the trees.

“We will fight it through the courts and I expect we will prevail," she said.

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