Best Of 2019

Best Park at the Center of the News in 2018: Burnet Woods

In this politically passionate age, any proposal requiring public input can become a burning battle of words and hurt feelings. And there are few places in Cincinnati that have more ardent supporters than Burnet Woods and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. So when the CCAC floated a proposal to build its new home in the 90-acre park wedged between the University of Cincinnati, Clifton and Avondale, we expected acrimony. But we were pleasantly surprised. Both CCAC supporters and those who want the woods left alone made impassioned, reasonable and civil arguments for their side of things, and as the public debate went on, it seemed more and more like a win for the city either way. The beloved arts institution needs a new home after Cincinnati Public Schools took back the grand old Clifton School building the CCAC had been leasing. But changes to the woods have been touchy in the past. As land initially leased to the city by wealthy Cincinnatians Robert Burnet and William Groesbeck in 1874, the park encompassed more than 170 acres. After the city purchased most of the land outright, it lopped off 74 acres that in 1895 became home to UC. Half a century later, the city gave UC another 18 acres now occupied by the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and other buildings. Since then, some fans of the park have been increasingly vigilant about proposed alterations. Voters in 2015 rejected Issue 22, a controversial charter amendment suggested by Mayor John Cranley that would have created a fund for big changes to the woods as well as many other parks. The Cincinnati Park Board of Directors listened carefully and, at least this time around, opted against CCAC’s proposal. “As painful as the Burnet Woods process was, it was a good process,” board member Kevin Flynn said after the vote. “It shows that reasonable people can disagree reasonably.” We agree. Long live the CCAC. Long live Burnet Woods. Burnet Woods, 3251 Brookline Ave., Clifton, cincinnatiparks.com.