Petitions circulate to preserve one of Cincinnati's largest and oldest parks

Burnet Woods Park controversy

CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - A group is hoping to keep new development out of one of the city's largest and oldest parks by circulating an online petition "Preserve Burnet Woods Park."

The 89.3 acre park on Brookline Drive borders Clifton, University Heights and the University of Cincinnati. It is owned and operated by the Cincinnati Park Board.

A group called Clifton Cultural Arts Center and Camping and Education Foundation is behind the petition effort, which had more than 2,000 signatures Thursday.

They are concerned about proposals from two organizations wanting to build structures on park property.

The 90-acre park is special to Jack Stenger. He visits on almost daily and enjoys bird watching.

Burnet Woods, he said, is the best place in Cincinnati for it.

"It's the only park in the city that's nationally ranked and not many urban areas have a deciduous forest in the heart of the city," he said.

The CCAC has proposed a development on 1/4 of an acre.

The organization said they don't plan on taking down any trees, and the building would emerge on green space.

But Stenger said he thinks it would set a bad precedent.

University of Cincinnati obtained 18 acres from the park in the 1950s.

Mooney said he believes the arts center at the park would draw in more visitors.

"It would be a cultural arts center. It would be free and open to the public most of the time. It would bring classes and events and performances and community gathering," said CCAC Executive Director Leslie Mooney.

When people hear about the petition, they think of commercial development,  Mooney said, but that's not at all what their proposal entails.

Either way, Stenger said he doesn't want anything to be developed at the park.

"It's a special place for wildlife and I think any effort to build or develop the park will take away from that ultimate purpose," he said.

Specifics about what the buildings would look like or where in the park they would be built are undecided.

Stenger said that while he supports both the CCAC and Camping and Education Foundation, he doesn't want them to build anything at the park.

"It's the right group, wrong place," he said.

The public can sound off about the issue 7 p.m. Monday at the Corryville Recreation Center, 2823 Eden Ave.

The Cincinnati Parks Board will have final say, either later this year or next year.

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