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Butler County wants input on new park, Davidson Woods

view of a creek from atop a grassy, verdant hilltop
MetroParks of Butler County
MetroParks of Butler County is ready to gather input as it prepares to open Davidson Woods to the public.

Roughly 400 acres of forested hills and creek will soon be accessible to the public. MetroParks of Butler County wants to hear how people would like to utilize Davidson Woods in Hanover Township.

The undeveloped land along Four Mile Creek near the intersection of Hogue and Gardner roads north of Hamilton has previously only been open for programmed events and some deer hunting. Now, the park district is using nearly $820,000 in Clean Ohio and American Rescue Plan dollars to open the woods up and begin planning for the future.

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"The property has a gorgeous view of Four Mile Creek," explains Katie Ely-Wood, communications manager for MetroParks of Butler County. "It is pretty dense woodlands, so it would be a very great area for hiking, for maybe some potential mountain biking, or just some really nice, scenic overviews of the creek. It also offers some access to the creek itself, so we potentially could be looking at some fishing and kayaking opportunities near Four Mile Creek as well."

The property includes a 10-story bluff with 180 degree views of Four Mile Creek.

The park district is launching an online survey Wednesday, Oct. 11. There will also be in-person community engagement sessions, though those dates haven't yet been set.

"What we want to know from the public is what kind of things they would like to see at the park. Do they want things like active fitness opportunities — maybe something like exercise equipment, disc golf, picnic shelters, community gardens — or are they really looking for something that's more passive, like unpaved hiking trails, maybe a beautiful scenic overlook by Four Mile Creek, things that they can just get out and and passively explore."

rocky creek with trees on both sides.
MetroParks of Butler County
Four Mile Creek runs through the Davidson Woods property.

MetroParks was recently awarded a grant for $369,848 from the Clean Ohio Fund's Green Space Conservation Program. Those dollars will be used to build a driveway to access Davidson Woods, a parking area and an accessible trail. The $450,000 in ARPA funds will also help with that work, along with basic infrastructures needs and to begin work on what the public wants.

The park district owns land on both sides of Four Mile Creek, but the funding will be focused on the property south of the creek.

"MetroParks is looking forward to protecting critical natural habitats at Davidson Woods, which include woodlands, greenspaces and waterways," says Ely-Wood.

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She estimates improvements will begin next year, with the park being accessible by summer or fall of 2024.

While the property is currently referred to as Davidson Woods, Ely-Wood says a name change is likely in the future.

MetroParks acquired the land in 2007, according to the Butler County Auditor's website. Prior to the agency taking ownership, it was occupied for 100 or so years by the Davidson family who used it as farmland. According to MetroParks, part of the property was also owned by the Shafer Family, who used it for agricultural and timber production. The department reports it doesn't know much about either family

"There was a grain mill onsite approximately 100 years ago and a small-scale chicken and duck operation," Ely-Wood tells WVXU. "The remains of two private residences can also be seen in Davidson Woods, and they likely date back sometime between 1900-1955. The first aerial shots we have of the property were done in the late 1930s and the residential buildings can be seen in those shots."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.