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Northside Free Bench removed, some residents vow to replace it

City said bench violated littering law
Posted: 4:30 AM, May 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-22 11:32:32Z

CINCINNATI -- Northside's "Free Bench" is gone, but some residents want to bring it back.

Whatever was left at the bench near the corner of Fergus and Knowlton had been free for the taking. But the bench drew some debate over whether it was helping the community or hurting the community.

Ellil Rose said she and her landlord removed the bench over the weekend and moved it to another location after the city contacted her landlord and said there would be a monthly $500 fine if it remained. 

The city has investigated complaints about the site over the years, though an online database shows "no violation" there.

Rose is from Portland, Oregon, where she said free benches are the norm. 

"I'm really sad," Rose said. "I mean, I've been crying about it. I'm really angry. I'm not the only one.

City Department of Public Services staff reviewed eight complaints received since November 2016 with the property owner and shared photos that highlighted issues with the property, according to a city spokesperson. They determined that the bench, as it was being maintained, was in violation of the city's littering code and the owner agreed to remove it due to it becoming a nuisance.

Authorities have not issued any citations to the property owner as a result of the complaints.

However, supporters of the Free Bench said the fight isn't over. Northside could end up with several free benches. Rose said volunteers have come forward to help with possible new locations.

"We're going to build 10 of them and people are going to put them on their own private properties," Rose said.