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Northside Free Bench provides free items to community, but some think it's an eyesore

Posted at 11:50 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-27 01:03:49-05

CINCINNATI -- Should it stay or should it go?

The Northside Free Bench, a public bench on which residents can leave anything they think someone else might need and from which they can take anything they want, has been a staple in the neighborhood since the '80s.

"There was a person in this community named Maureen Wood, and she owned Off the Avenue Studios," Ellil Rose, the bench's current keeper, said. "She was quite a revolutionary figure in our community. They like to think of it as a resource for needy families in the community … but it's also something we do to play with each other as neighbors."

Northsiders' donations are always changing.

"I use it a lot," resident George Davis said. "I've gotten tools off of there. I have gotten brand new clothing with tags on them (and) blankets."

However, not everyone likes it. Lt. Steve Saunders said Cincinnati police have received complaints from neighbors. Some take issue with the way the bench, laden with its hodgepodge of donations, looks. 

"I think it's kind of an eyesore, but I see it aiding people," Nia Sheckles said. "It appears to be helping people that come through."

According to Saunders, police have encouraged Rose to move the bench or clean it up; according to her, she's been told she has two weeks to clean it up or get it removed. To that end, a petition to save the bench is circulating online.

Saunders said nothing Rose has done is illegal, but the bench could violate some city codes.