Controversial Washington Park rule changed

CINCINNATI - Can you get a ticket for violating park rules that are not laws? The answer was "yes" in Washington Park until Thursday morning.

The Cincinnati Parks Department voted Thursday morning to eliminate a rule that has caused some controversy.
A controversy that has to do with an alleged civil rights violation that resulted in a lawsuit from three residents who live near the park.

Jennifer Kinsley is the lawyer who filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

"The park board went into executive session and came back and removed rule 28," said attorney Jennifer Kinsley by telephone. "I know the rule change was precipitated by the lawsuit."

Rule 28 allegedly allowed the park district to create rules without public input, either with hearings or representation. If someone was seen breaking the rule (not ordinance) a police officer could have written a ticket or even arrested the individual.

"I congratulate the city for removing the rule from its books," said Kinsley. "The lawsuit is still pending and we will press ahead with it unless the city does something about it."

That is because, Kinsley said, the board could vote the rule back into effect as quickly as it was eliminated.

City officials tell 9 News that while the specific Washington Park rules are not in force, the park is not wide open.  City ordinances and state laws are still in effect for the park, such as operating hours and the banning of alcohol. Anyone who breaks those laws can still be ticketed and or arrested.

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