Local civil rights activist Marian A. Spencer, a Charter Committee board member, has provided The Enquirer this letter she sent to Parks Director Willie Carden on Friday.
It is with regret that after carefully reading the text of the Parks levy that I cannot support it. This action is difficult for me because when asked for my support last June, I was unaware that this would be a Charter amendment rather than a normal property tax levy, or that its income would be used only for capital projects.
I returned to Cincinnati just this week and have spent a great deal of time studying the Parks levy. Had I known the details earlier I would have notified the campaign immediately. You need to know my decision before next Tuesday’s Cincinnatus Association luncheon. Due to the Labor Day holiday this letter will not be received before Tuesday.
The primary reasons for my change of heart are:
1. As a 75-year member of the Charter Committee, vice mayor and council member I have always stood for good government. A property tax levy should not be in the city charter. Voters should have an opportunity to renew (or deny) any tax levy in future years. This one is permanent. It is bad policy.
2. My late husband Donald and I always wanted the parks and all their activities to be open and accessible, free of charge to everyone. Donald fought so effectively to keep Krohn Conservatory free that they didn’t charge there until after he had died. This levy does not guarantee that new park projects will be free and open to everyone. The new carousel at Smale Park, while truly lovely, is an example. Many children cannot afford to ride, let alone have their parents pay for parking to get there.
3. This park levy should not be for capital projects only. What about personnel to manage them? Large projects such as bike trails or significant other changes to our beautiful parks should be initiated by our citizens and adopted by council through the normal budget process.
I am sorry for my confusion about the content of the levy. I had not seen its content at the time I supported it, therefore I am compelled to withdraw my support. The timing is very difficult for everyone, because I have been out of the city for two months, with no local news readily available. Please discontinue to use my name in your Pro Parks levy campaign literature or any future community gatherings.