Some of you have probably heard through the media that the Audubon Society of Ohio is opposed to Issue 22, the Cincinnati Parks Tax Levy. If so, you are no doubt wondering why your local Audubon society would be opposing a tax levy that supports parks. We think that you, our members and supporters, deserve an explanation of our position.
In our opinion, the problem with the Cincinnati Parks levy is that it is designed to finance capital improvements in the parks. The types of improvements that have been floated include such things as restaurants, mountain bike trails, and parking. None of these things will benefit the natural areas of our parks, and if placed in the wrong areas, could significantly damage them.
We are not opposed to development in all situations. Development of parks which are not natural areas, such as the riverfront or Washington Park, is fine. And we would welcome improvements such as the restoration of visitor centers or the extension of hiking trails.
But Audubon’s primary mission is the protection of natural areas. We haven’t seen any indication that the tax levy will be used for such real improvements as reforestation or the removal of invasives from our parks. Instead, by all indications, the thrust of the parks levy will be to build things in the parks. And since this will be a permanent levy, the pressure for new construction will continue year after year.
We would support a levy which balanced recreation with protection of natural areas. The current proposal does not include such a balance. Therefore, the Audubon Society of Ohio opposes Issue 22.