Before we ever kicked a ball at our training facility we reached out to our would-be neighbors. We wanted to let them know our vision for the club and our commitment to being a good neighbor. We met with Pat, who lives in the house next to the field and whose family owned the field. He’s let us fill up our “Cincy SC Cool Zone” from his spigot and borrow his tractor to cut the grass. We spoke to Mary, who lives at the end of the road beside the church, and she even chased away some teenagers trying to break into our shed. We talked to the Kinneys, who live at the end of Jefferson St. behind the gated entrance. They’re ardent soccer supporters who have wanted to buy our field for years. We even helped broker the deal for Pat’s family to sell it to the Kinneys last year so they could keep it greenspace and we could keep it our soccer utopia.
And we met with the management of St. John Fisher Church to discuss the use of their parking lot. We designed our training times and traffic flow pattern to minimize interference. We provided the necessary insurance certificate to the Archdiocese. And we made periodic donations to the church and promoted and participated in their fundraiser car raffle. And so they agreed.
We kept in frequent communication to make sure there were no issues. We ensured no trash was ever left behind. We adjusted our traffic flow when they requested it. So it came as a surprise last winter when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati sent us a letter stating that Cincinnati Soccer Club members and guests would no longer be allowed to use the St. John Fisher Church parking lot.
We quickly met with the Jenifer, the business manager, to better understand their reasons. She said it had to do with a few things: wanting to have a quiet space for their new prayer garden, mitigating risk caused by traffic from our coaches and families, and occasional issues with traffic flow and parking spaces used. She emphasized that we had done nothing wrong but that her mind was made up and she wasn’t open to discussing it further.
We put together our pitch to renew the agreement anyway, including paying for and installing signs that would direct traffic flow and designate authorized spaces and times. We also offered what we felt was a substantial monthly donation. This was her response:
“Best of luck to you and the soccer team, and again I’m sorry the parking situation didn’t work out.”
We adjusted and started entering the field via Jefferson St., parking on the grass, and exiting using the lane next to the church. Unfortunately, that driveway is also owned by the church and someone apparently didn’t want us using it either since stakes were quickly put up blocking our entry. This meant entry and exit using Jefferson St.
Naturally, the residents of Jefferson St. weren’t too excited about the new traffic on their street. But since there’s no law against driving on a street, they instead complained about cars being parked on the grass and referenced a Newtown ordinance stating that cars parked on a resident’s lawn could result in a $100 fine. So we were told to stop parking on the grass and start parking on the Kinney driveway instead.
Our current drop-off and pick-up option is to enter the complex from Jefferson St. and turn around on the grass on the Church St. side of our field. This area cannot be used for parking. We also ask that parents not park in front of the houses on Jefferson St. since those spaces are needed by the residents. We’re also looking into better long term solutions, including appearing before the Newtown Council on 8/24/17. We hope to get approval for a paver parking area (gravel is not permitted, by the way).
If you’d like to share your thoughts with the Mayor of Newtown or anyone at the church, here are some contacts.
Mayor of Village of Newtown, Ohio
St. John Fisher Church
3227 Church Street
Cincinnati, OH 45244
Rev. Del Staigers
513-561-9431, ext 111