Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

Change park name back

I must say I have to agree with all those who remember Wonderly Park. Orchardly doesn’t belong, it was always Wonderly.  I grew up on Wonderly, right across from the basketball court. I learned to float in the wading pool, loved the slide, the teeter totters, the big metal merry-go-round and the swings which took you higher than high. I learned to play a mean game of tennis on the one and only tennis court. It was always known as Wonderly, how Orchardly ever got in there is anybody’s guess. If it was changed that easily, it can be changed back to what it was originally.

Cynthia McKnight Heisey
Warren, Ohio

See Orchardly Park Master Plan in photo gallery >

Not addressing development concerns a mistake

In reply to Dr. Shillinglaw’s thoughtful letter, I share her concern about the disappearing Greenspace and overemphasis on development.  It’s a complex issue because property owners have rights that need to be respected, but the City also has a duty to ensure that any development complies with zoning and fits in with the character of the community.  And get ready, for Deep Hollow development is next, then the vicious cycle back to deer over-population…

I have attended many of the meetings relating to Sugar Camp, and most citizens in attendance have wanted to either stop the development or at least limit the residential growth to the needs of our seniors (i.e., no children).  The City has also promoted the development as a source of tax revenue to keep the future burden under control, given they have relied heavily on estate taxes - that aren’t a given in the future.  

While there has been much vocal opposition to this at town meetings, I have concluded there are a majority of citizens that either (a) silently support the development, (b) don’t care either way, or (c) don’t pay attention, and the City considers this majority as tacit approval of their continued support of what the Versant Group wants to do.  

Disappointingly, we were misled by the Developers, who in the recent change, approved by the City, have expanded the residential allotment and have no intention of target marketing the residential area to seniors, further threatening overpopulation of our schools.  But if you believe the recent population census (DDD, July 10; Oakwood was dead last among 39 Miami Valley communities at -7.6 percent since year 2000!), you might not at all be concerned about the schools, but rather who are going to buy all these $500,000+ new homes and how this surplus will affect everyone else’s property values?  Either way, the prospects are not comforting.

Although the easily-viewed areas of Sugar Camp have been clear-cut, much of the interior woods do remain (as the City Manager, Mr. Klopsch, has noted), and the landscaping plans still need to be approved by the City.  What can we do to help encourage a redirection, or at least achieve some reasonable balance between development and conservation?  

First, I would encourage everyone to have a look at the Versant landscaping plan, particularly around the perimeter of the project.  In my opinion it is inadequate for several reasons.  For example, they want to plant hundreds of a single tree variety (Bradford Pear, I believe) that is not even native to the United States, let alone Oakwood; builders prefer this tree mainly because it is inexpensive and grows rapidly.  How about some native oaks, maples, and redbuds thrown in?  

Second, how about a plan to encourage property owners not to subdivide and develop their large estates?  I moved from Wyoming, OH (Cincinnati suburb very similar to Oakwood) where they have a Urban Foresty Board that manages a Greenspace initiative that includes giving property owners tax relief for land they donate to the city; the city, in turn, maintains the property as natural Greenspace for public use and excludes it from ever being developed.

Third, since the City is obviously worried about property tax rev enue and uses it as an argument to pursue new development; how about looking at alternatives to supplement schools and City services (e.g., a small residential income tax)?   As a parent of school-agers, I would suggest I should be paying more than the senior citizen or those with no kids (e.g., a user fee).  Any means to diminish our ever-rising and ever-high property taxes should benefit everyone by making our homes more marketable.  

Fourth, encourage a makeover of the existing Comprehensive Plan and ask volunteers to work de novo on a new plan forward.  It disturbs me that this plan is continually invoked to support development, yet can easily be interpreted to represent a contrary view.  We don’t need external consultants to tell us what our community is about and what its future needs should be.

My final comment is regarding the “public” handling of the development issue.  When the City Council and Planning Commission meetings deal with these issues, mostly there are opponents to the development and the tone seems always very
adversarial, sometimes even disrespectful.  I can understand why the citizens feel and act this way, as it appears they are in the majority, yet the City is apparently doing nothing to address their concerns as development continues unabated.  I don’t believe this issue can continue to be handled largely behind closed doors with the occasional public meeting, and there should be a better effort by the Mayor and Council to actively seek out and engage the community in discussions on this topic (e.g., more town hall meetings) – this is the type of leadership we deserve from our elected officials.  

While the City may feel it has support for moving forward as planned for Sugar Camp, not adequately addressing or more deeply understanding the concerns of those who oppose continued development is a mistake and alienates this fine group of citizens who has no self-serving motivations and truly wants what is best for Oakwood.


Jim Joly
Little Woods Rd.

From the Mayor's Desk_____________________

Weekend’s events a celebration of volunteerism

One of the central goals of our centennial planning is to celebrate the volunteerism that exists in Oakwood. This past weekend devoted to focusing on our history clearly demonstrated that the volunteer spirit is alive and well in Oakwood. It was a weekend filled with opportunities for our community.  Hawthorn Hill, with the help of Dayton History, was open to Oakwood citizens for tours, and the long awaited centennial film was shown throughout the weekend at the high school auditorium.

The three days of tours at Hawthorn Hill were planned and orchestrated by former Mayor Gretchen Bullock and Kristin Carpenter. They greeted each citizen and verified residency for the tours throughout the three-day period. Also, they provided the written material for the brochure given to each visitor. The design and graphics for this beautiful pamphlet is the gift of Perry Martin from The Agency Group. Their volunteer efforts made all this possible.

The work of the Centennial Film Committee was led by Harrison Stamm Gowdy, Harry Ebeling and Mackensie Wittmer, as chair and co-chairs of the committee.  

These three count their volunteer time given to the creation of this film not in hours, but in years.  For every minute of this 45-minute film, they gave at least 45 hours.  It is not only the devotion of their time with which we are blessed but also their knowledge and expertise. The result is not only a film we enjoy as part of our centennial celebration but an important, permanent document for all times. Their efforts were enriched by the volunteer collaboration of the other committee members, Dick Robinson, Jeanne Palermo, Teresa Prosser and Pam Price Houk.  

The success of the six presentations of the film over the weekend is due to a fantastic group of ladies who planned and executed the entire weekend.  Jan Wallace chaired the group that included Anne Davis, Julie Mays, Diane Scott and Deb Wright. Like a well-oiled machine, they secured the work force needed—many were Oakwood high school students committed to community service, plus family members; they organized greeting the attendees, selling copies of centennial materials, and providing refreshments after each presentation - even baking some of the cookies. It was a remarkable performance that went for three days without a hitch! Deborah Smith, an Oakwood faculty member, volunteered her time to see that the mechanics of showing the film were arranged.  Perry Martin again volunteered his expertise in creating advertising posters, a souvenir program and the label for the film DVD available for purchase.

This is a classic story of volunteerism. The volunteer effort involved in this grand weekend was the backdrop for the events. However, it is important to bring it to the fore and recognize what an incredible community
asset it represents.

Mayor Judy Cook



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July 15, 2008
Volume 17, No. 29

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