In previous posts, we’ve shared our gratitude for being allowed to park in the St. John Fisher lot as well as the background as to why we’re no longer allowed. Since then, club officials, parents, and even Newtown’s Mayor Kobasuk (who also happens to be a parishoner) have made appeals to church leadership to help their neighbor.
The parish recently had a change in leadership, so we thought it was worthwhile to reach out to Reverend Staigers to welcome him and to see if he might have a different perspective on the topic. Here’s the email we sent to him on Aug. 28, 2017:
Dear Reverend Staigers,
Welcome to the neighborhood! We hope being a part of the Newtown community brings you as much enjoyment as it’s brought us over the past 2 1/2 years.
We’re writing to ask for your help, specifically permission to use the SJFC parking lot and driveway on weekday evenings.
Russell Lewis and I created and lead Cincinnati Soccer Club, a non-profit youth soccer organization with 27 teams, 300+ players, and 18 coaches. We use the field next to the SJFC parking lot for training on weekday evenings during the spring and the fall (4:30-8:30 during the months of March-May or early June and August-October). We intentionally designed our schedule so that we wouldn’t be using the field during your busy times.
For our first 1 1/2 years of operations, SJFC and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati graciously allowed the parents of our players to park in the SJFC parking lot. The Club made donations to the church, promoted and participated in the annual car raffle, and ensured that there was nothing ever left behind in the parking lot. In November of last year we received notice that our agreement was terminated. The stated reasons were to minimize disturbance of the new prayer garden and to eliminate the risk associated with cars coming and going.
We have several parishioners in our club and many others that are active in the Catholic community throughout Cincinnati. These people in particular have expressed disappointment, and frankly incredulity, that a huge parking lot sits empty next to our training field and we’re not allowed to park in it. Comments I’ve heard include, “that doesn’t reflect the values of my church” and “it makes me embarrassed to call myself Catholic.” For what it’s worth, we believe that it reflects the attitude of the business manager, Jenifer Tiettmeyer, but not the organization or the majority of its members.
Our alternative solution for parking has created safety and traffic issues for our neighbors on the other side of the field, and for our players and families. There are homeowners on Jefferson St. that love what our club offers to kids but are brought to tears testifying before Newtown council because of the impact of the additional cars coming and going on their street each night. We’d like to come up with a better solution with your help. Are you open to meeting and having a discussion sometime this week or next?
Brett Dickson, Director of Communications
Russell Lewis, Director of Soccer Operations
The response received on Sept. 5, 2017 came Jenifer Tietmeyer, Business Manager of the church, and didn’t address our request to meet:
Our new pastor, Fr. Del, has read your email, along with several others he received. He also spoke to the president of our pastoral council committee regarding your request to use our parking lot and/or driveways for the activities of the Cincinnati Soccer Club. We have given it considerable thought and regrettably, we believe it is not in the best interest of the parish to enter into a parking agreement at this time.
Your website highlights the importance of integrity as one of the core values you encourage in your players and you stress the importance of treating others with respect. We recognize this is not the outcome you were hoping for but would ask you to employ that same core value with St. John Fisher and respect our decision to do what we feel is best for our parish and its members.
We wish you and the team continued success.
While we may have a hard time understanding their reasons, we do respect their decision to not share their parking lot — it’s theirs, and they have no obligation to share it. The reason we asked to meet with Rev. Staigers is because we see other alternatives, such as using a portion of the driveway that separates our field from their parking lot for egress (exit) from our proposed parking area on the east side of our field.
Here’s the email we sent to Jenifer and Rev. Staigers on Sept. 27, 2017:
Jenifer and Rev. Staigers,
We have moved forward with plans to create a parking area on the east side of the field. On the few occasions where we’ve seen families parking in your lot we’ve let them know that we don’t have permission to use it and asked them to move.
We’re still seeking a safer and less impactful solution for the outflow of cars from our parking area (as Jefferson St. is pretty narrow in spots) and that’s what we’d hoped to meet to discuss.
Could we come to an agreement to use the portion of the driveway marked on the image below for outbound traffic on weekday evenings? We’re willing to contribute to the parish or Archdiocese of Cincinnati to show our gratitude and to help cover maintenance costs the driveway.
I know that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is committed to meeting the needs of its people and its community, and I think this is one small way that St. John Fisher could honor that commitment.Respectfully,Brett Dickson, on behalf of the 332 families and 21 coaches that are part of Cincinnati Soccer Club