Tell the Cincinnati Park Board to vote No on the new CEF Building Proposal in Burnet Woods
Cincinnati Park Board of Commissioners
On December 17th, 2020, the Cincinnati Park Board will again consider a proposal by the Camping and Education Foundation (CEF), to create a standalone building within Burnet Woods, a public park. Preserve Burnet Woods is opposed to this new private construction in Burnet Woods as a detriment to the important ecological habitat of the park and an unnecessary invasion of private interest on vital urban greenspace. There is no opposition to expanded programming in Burnet Woods, only for the loss of natural habitat. We ask for your support by signing this petition to communicate to the Cincinnati Park Board that the Camping and Education Proposal should be summarily rejected, the MOU nullified, and the discussion of new private construction in Burnet Woods should end for the following reasons:
· Documentation for the new CEF Urban Wilderness Center building concept has not been released by Cincinnati Parks or by CEF for public view or feedback, nor have any of the public stakeholders been engaged for feedback.
· Surrounding community stakeholders, namely Clifton Town Meeting, CUF Neighborhood Association, Corryville Community Council, and the Burnet Woods Park Advisory Committee have not been engaged for feedback on the new proposal. Clifton Town Meeting’s attempt to convene the stakeholders was not attended by any CEF representative and there was no official presentation by the Park Board Commissioner in attendance (Commissioner Goetz). Participants were given only a four (4) page selective picture of the building concept to view, yet were unanimous in discussion that a new building in the park was not wanted. This is not an acceptable community engagement model by Cincinnati Parks, nor adequate information to review.
· This matter is going to vote before the Park Board with substantial community resistance and without substantial community engagement, with the Park Board’s full knowledge that development in Burnet Woods is a contentious community topic and any significant change to park infrastructure without engagement will cause further community disruption and division.
· CEF has provided no evidence that its proposed facility would be accessible to the “urban communities” and “urban youth” it claims it will serve. Building in Burnet Woods is solely for the convenience of CEF to support a program it offers at the University of Cincinnati. It is conceivable that this is another of many annexations by the University of Burnet Woods, this time via a private interest.
· CEF has stated publicly that they do not need this building for their mission.
· CEF stated publicly that it would not pursue this project if the community did not want it. Beginning with the 2018 daylighting discussion, the community has been consistent in messaging that it does not want any new buildings for private use in Burnet Woods. CEF has continued to pursue its new construct in the park in spite of public opposition.
· In addition to the new building, construction of camping space and camping rings would further fragment and negatively impact Burnet Woods’s forest habitat.
· The existing historic WPA-era structures that support Cincinnati Parks programs and public needs should retain the focus for the Park Board above the asserted wants of a private organization. The Cincinnati Parks system is currently experiencing a $70 million dollar deferred maintenance crisis that includes structures in Burnet Woods. The CEF’s new building will require demolition of a historic WPA-era stone structure that is used by Parks and which could be used for public benefit.
· Parks has an existing nature program via Explore Nature and should focus attention on expansion of that program in its own facilities rather than adding cumbersome facilities for private interests.
· This private construction will not be for public benefit. There is no indication that the boat dock revision included in the plan will allow personal kayak portage or rental canoes. The plan does not indicate that camping space and campfire rings will be available for public use.
· Burnet Woods is going to experience massive construction disruption from a required combined sewer separation as soon as that MSD project is funded. This is cited as a reason that the Trailside Nature Center renovation concept was abandoned by CEF. Their response to that concern was to disrupt the park with additional construction in a nearby area on a different timeline. The environmental consequences of repeated construction projects of this magnitude on a small urban park will take decades to repair and it may never fully recover.
· Since 2018, Preserve Burnet Woods and the Stewards of Burnet Woods have rallied the community around the park to invest significant volunteer hours and capital fundraising dollars into park restoration, as well as provide dedicated programming initiatives on a consistent basis. This programming includes collaborations with U.C. student groups, Rockdale Elementary, and HEART Montessori. These community collaboratives, combined with Cincinnati Parks own in-house Explore Nature programs, and regular programs from other community partners, have rendered the need for CEF to construct a permanent physical site in the park to complete its programming obsolete.
The mission of Preserve Burnet Woods is to protect, promote, celebrate and sustain Burnet Woods as an urban oasis and community-supported greenspace. We are a 100% volunteer organization and 501(c)(3) non-profit. PBW supports its mission through invasive species removal, litter pick-up, and small-batch nature education hikes in Burnet Woods. Since 2018, we have donated more than 1400 volunteer hours to support the habitat and community in this park. Additional information on our organization, the history of this proposal and the significance of Burnet Woods Park can be found at www.preserveburnetwoods.org. Please help us in preserving this vital space in our community!
Cincinnati Park Board of Commissioners
From: [Your Name]
Please reject the new proposal from the Camping and Education foundation to construct a standalone workshop in Burnet Woods. This building is an unnecessary invasion of private interest on vital urban greenspace and a detriment to the ecological habitat of the park.