A settlement was reached in a lengthy legal battle ending the renovation of downtown Lytle Park. Now city officials say they are ready to move forward with the project.
The lawsuit, filed by former federal prosecutor Kathleen Brinkman, who put the park’s renovation on hold for two years, focused on Four 50 year old London plane trees along Fourth Street in Lytle Park.
The activists had been work to save the trees but the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Council ultimately voted to cut them down at the behest of the Cincinnati Park Board of Trustees and the Western & Southern Financial Group, which is funding the project.
In July 2019, Brinkman rushed to file a temporary restraining order at Hamilton County Common Pleas Court just in time to save one of those trees.
The last remaining tree will be moved to another “prominent and appropriate location in Lytle Park,” the regulation says, adding that the park’s board should ensure that a company experienced in removing large trees mature will take care of the relocation of the plane from London.
A plaque will be placed on the tree after it is moved and will read: “A London Plane shade tree originally planted in Lytle Park along Fourth Street in 1970”.
Seven replacement shade trees will also be planted in a row along Fourth Street, Settlement States. And three London Plane Trees will be planted at Eden Park, each bearing a plaque reading: “This tree grows here thanks to those who fought to save the London Plane Trees at Lytle Park, 2018-2021.”
Other provisions of the settlement agreement include reactivating the Lytle Park Advisory Council and requiring Cincinnati Parks to publish an urban canopy impact statement as part of meeting documents for major renovation projects.
City officials said the park council was set to re-bid for the project and select a contractor, as the previously approved bid expired while the park’s renovation stalled.
“We are delighted that things are moving again and that this very important work is finally starting. The improvements we make are sure to be enjoyed for generations by park neighbors, residents and visitors to our city, ”Jim Goetz, chair of the Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners, said in a press release.
The project is funded by a $ 1.6 million grant from Western & Southern as well as $ 1.1 million in funding provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Western & Southern has agreed to provide funding to cover the additional costs.
The park’s board of directors struggled for years to find funding for the renovation until Eagle Realty, a subsidiary of Western & Southern, agreed to donate $ 1.6 million, according to a previous Inquirer report.
Renovation plans for the project include the addition of new plazas, brick walkways, a decorative fountain, a running track, as well as a new landscape, lighting and benches.