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Group launches petition to keep new developments out of Burnet Woods

There has been a couple of proposals recently to build in Burnet Woods in Clifton, but a group of concerned residents want to preserve the park. (WKRC)

CLIFTON, Ohio (WKRC) - There have been a couple of proposals recently to build in Burnet Woods in Clifton.

The Camping and Education Center wants to build a facility there. The Clifton Cultural Arts Center also pitched a proposal to build their new home in the park back in May.

CCAC will be moving out of its home on Clifton Avenue at the end of the summer. They had renovated a former public school, but Cincinnati Public Schools reclaimed the property.

Burnet Woods is just blocks away from the current site, and director of CCAC Leslie Mooney says it would be a great place to relocate.

"We've been in the process for the last year or so of looking and evaluating different places, and lots of community members have suggested to us that we look at Burnet Woods as a site to construct and move into our new home there," said Mooney. "We've evaluated lots of adapted reuse of older buildings; we've looked at different sites to build a new building, and we would like to stay, obviously, in Clifton and the population we've been able to serve very close to Avondale, very close to CUF and Corryville. And so more suggestions that came for Burnet Woods -- it seemed like it hit all of the guiding principles and would allow us to really bring something to the community."

Mooney says the space would be about 25,000 square-feet on two or three floors and take up a third of an acre of the park, about less than one half of 1 percent of the total acreage.

The proposed CCAC location could be on Brookline Avenue, near the lake in the park. But there has been some resistance to the proposals with those who wish to see Burnet Woods preserved.

Burnet Woods is home to a variety of wildlife, including many birds. The National Audubon Society has even recognized the park as an "important bird area," or IBA, for those that are migrating.

A large group gathered at Burnet Woods Sunday morning for a bird walk, which is part of an effort to preserve the urban forest. This is the second Sunday people who are concerned for the park's future have gathered for one of these bird walks.

Ann Oliver has been a driving force with the effort to preserve the park since the proposals came in May. She says she hopes CCAC can find a new space, but she and other residents don't want them to build in Burnet Woods.

"There's a lot of people involved in hopefully keeping development out of Burnet Woods; there's a lot of people that believe in preserving Burnet Woods," Oliver said.

Oliver says preserving the park is important because there are some bird species that breed there that she says you would normally have to go deep into the woods to see, like the summer tanager.

"[Burnet Woods] became an IBA because of its attraction to migrating birds, because [when] these birds migrate, they look for an urban oasis of green," Oliver said. "The birds are drawn to this greenspace; they come here, they feed...There will be an astounding number of birds here in the spring using this park, and a fair number of breeding birds here in the middle of the summer, but it's known for its migratory birds, spring and fall."

Mooney says the talks for the new building are in the early stages, so these concerns can be addressed, including talking to ornithologists and bird experts and building a green roof.

There's a petition going to preserve Burnet Woods, which already has more than 1,500 signatures. Click here to see the petition.

The plan is to hold bird walks at Burnet Woods every Sunday to continue their efforts in supporting the preservation of the park.

Click here to learn more about CCAC's relocation plans.

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