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Lytle Park renovations halted because of pending lawsuits

Posted at 4:21 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 16:21:50-05

CINCINNATI — The renovations to Lytle Park have ground to a halt, and might not be able to begin again for months or, possibly, years, according to a press release from Cincinnati Parks.

The press release said the delay could also increase the cost of the overall renovation, because the project may need to be opened up for rebidding.

"We were prepared to start the project this summer, but unfortunately, due to some ongoing litigation, we've been unable to move forward with the project," said Rocky Merz, with Cincinnati Parks.

Merz said the ongoing litigation holding up the project is in regards to the trees in Lytle Park.

Several community activists have been fighting since June to save the trees in the park, which the renovation had planned to remove in favor of different foliage.

The fight began over four 50-year-old London Planetrees in the park.

Western & Southern, which was paying $1.6 million to help renovate the park, wants those trees replaced by a row of 4-inch saplings "that will produce trees consistent in height and appearance." Activists argued the London Planetrees were specifically selected because of their hardy nature and ability to thrive and improve air quality in urban settings.

A month after the fight began, three out of four of the trees were cut down unexpectedly, causing an outcry from activists whose attorney quickly filed to have the tree-cutting halted.

Now, as one lone London Planetree stands in Lytle Park, the Cincinnati Park Board administration said the litigation has also halted the renovations overall.

"We are really hopeful that everybody can get together, work through this in a productive way that allows us to keep on schedule," said Merz.

Cincinnati Parks' press release said delays to the renovations will be contingent on the litigation about the trees and, from there, based on the seasonal capabilities since tree planting and other renovation steps can only be done at certain times of the year.

"In the meantime, with the project suspended, local residents and park users are left without a premier downtown park," the press release said.