Community near Grant Park asks for more investments, police presence following shooting

OVER-THE-RHINE (WKRC) – Neighbors and businesses around Grant Park are asking for more investments and increased police presence following a shooting Wednesday.

Back in 2015, city and community leaders presented new play areas and other improvements to the park with the goal of reducing crime.

The park underwent a $200,000 facelift but, eight years later, Over-The-Rhine community leaders and members say it hasn’t helped.

“With all the shootings, I’ve been trying to stay in the house because I wouldn’t want nothing to happen to my kids,” said one resident.

Neighbor Ernest Foster, who moved to the area 10 years ago, says he’s seen violence and crime increase in recent months.

“We had five people OD down there,” said Foster. “Then, about a month after that, we had a shooting out there. A guy was standing on the truck door shooting at a guy who sold him something bad. It’s just stupid.”

Wednesday afternoon, police responded to a drive-by shooting just outside of the park. Three children, ages 10, 14, and 15, and one man in his 20s received non-life threatening injuries.

The money for the original improvements to Grant Park came primarily from private donations and grants.

But Over-The-Rhine Community Councilmember and local business owner John Donaldson says the city only installed two public cameras in the area during that project.

He says the rest of the cameras in the neighborhood are privately owned, and that police have not yet asked him for footage of Wednesday’s shooting.

Donaldson blames the recent uptick in violence on what he calls “lax police enforcement” of minor drug crimes and a small police presence in the area surrounding the park, as well as a lack of city investment into the neighborhood.

I don’t know how this would reduce crime,” Donaldson said of the park improvements. “This is like lipstick on a pig. It’s nice for the kids to have something to do here, but it was a minor investment in the park. The park is not the source of the problem, the park is in the middle of the problem. We’re right in the middle of those points. Those are all hot-spot points that aren’t getting the enforcement that they should.

Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long disagrees with the idea that the neighborhood is being ignored.

“I am very proud of the way that the city has shown up in that area and I’m disappointed that people don’t feel the same way,” Long said. “Again, I’m going to pivot back to that we have made this a priority. My staff has made this a priority.”

Officials with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, which oversees the park, did not respond to Local 12’s request for comment in time for this story.

The Urban League and Community Research Advocates previously scheduled a Grant Park “Resource Day” for the neighborhood on Friday.

It’s set to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park and will include live music and refreshments, as well as presentations from area community assistance agencies.