Hey. Want to talk about Burnet Woods? You have a chance coming up on Aug. 13.
Maybe you're a birder who loves the tranquility of the quiet green gem in the heart of Cincinnati or a Clifton resident concerned about finding a home for the neighborhood's beloved arts center or an educator interested in outdoor experiences for kids raised in urban environments. Maybe you love fishing in the park's expansive pond.
Plenty of Cincinnatians are passionate about the 90-acre wooded park wedged between the University of Cincinnati, Clifton and Avondale, and many have taken notice of proposals that would bring new additions to Burnet. More than 150 people attended a meeting in May unveiling those potential plans.
One plan, from the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, would place a 25,000-30,000-square-foot arts center and parking lot in the park. The other, from the Camping and Education Foundation, would mean a smaller building occupying about 2,500 square feet, as well as renovations to other park facilities.
The plans have some detractors, who say new buildings in the park will diminish its role as a sanctuary for wildlife and as a place where residents can come to enjoy a natural respite from the busy city.
“Like many people in Clifton — and in the city — I am frustrated that Burnet Woods seems to be a magnet for construction proposals,” University of Cincinnati History Professor and Clifton resident David Stradling wrote earlier this year. “Burnet Woods certainly needs investment, but it doesn't need a 30,000-square-foot building and a 40-car parking lot. We have a limited number of park acres, and we aren't getting more. We should not use the current under-investment in the park to claim that a building represents an improvement.”
Others, however, have been more supportive of the possibilities.
Parks officials say they're investigating new ways to keep the city's parks viable under increasingly strained budgets. They also stress, however, that no final decisions have been made around either proposal for Burnet Woods.
“We don’t have any new buckets of resources falling out of the sky," Cincinnati Parks Director Wade Walcutt told a crowd in May. "I’m not interested in making changes for changes sake. But if there’s an opportunity for all of us to get more people into the parks, I think that’s worth exploring. If we have to do that by talking to different partners, that’s worth exploring, too.”
The Parks' public input session will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Corryville Recreation Center.