Dear Friends of Aullwood and Marie Aull,
Marie Aull’s legacy is in serious jeopardy.
In 1995, with Marie Aull’s support, Paul Knoop and other Aullwood staff planted what became the Paul Knoop Prairie on approximately 140 acres of airport property adjacent to Aullwood Farm at the corner of Frederick Pike and U.S. 40 (National Road). This prairie still thrives and is one of the oldest reconstructed prairies in the State of Ohio. It attracts hundreds of resident and migratory birds and mammals, and thousands of species of insects, butterflies and bees each year.
Even more critical is the fact that it is flourishing on and protecting 120 acres of the watershed for Wiles Creek and it is, in fact, the headwaters to this critical tributary of the Stillwater River. Wiles Creek runs through the Aullwood Audubon property, providing key habitat throughout our 200 acres and then flows into Marie Aull’s garden where it has been a central landscape element of this National Historic Landmark since Marie and John Aull originally purchased the property. (To help visualize these water resources, please see the Wiles Creek map at the bottom of this page updated July 2019 and created by David Nolin, Retired Director of Conservation, Five Rivers MetroParks.)
The City of Dayton and the Dayton International Airport have rezoned the Paul Knoop Prairie and now have a buyer interested in purchasing the property for commercial/industrial construction. Press reports have indicated that NorthPoint Development is the buyer for the proposed project. This is a tragic blow to Marie Aull’s legacy and to the environmental welfare of Aullwood, Marie’s garden, and to our region. It is impossible to predict all of the negative environmental consequences that this action will cause.
Please join us in expressing our shock and dismay at this decision, and our belief that the Paul Knoop Prairie in its entirety should be permanently preserved, to the individuals below. Please try to stay positive but passionate without resorting to name calling or hostility toward individuals or organizations who need to be involved in the solution.
Dayton City Commission
Matt Joseph, Jeffery J. Mims, Christopher L. Shaw, Darryl Fairchild
P.O. Box 22
Dayton OH 45401-0022
Nan Whaley, Mayor, City of Dayton
101 W Third Street, Dayton OH 45402
Shelley Dickstein, City Manager, Dayton
101 W Third Street, Dayton OH 45402
Tammi Clements, Deputy City Manager, Dayton
101 W Third Street, Dayton OH 45402
Terry Slaybaugh, Aviation Director
City of Dayton Department of Aviation
3600 Terminal Drive, Suite 300, Dayton OH 45377
Johan Henriksen, Vice President of Development
4825 NW 41st St. Suite 500
Riverside, MO 64150
** LATEST UPDATE 9 JULY 2019 **
OSRA Statement of Support, Commission Meetings Weds July 10 at 8:30 AM and Weds July 17 at 6:00 PM
As the movement to permanently preserve Paul E. Knoop Jr. Prairie, Wiles Creek and the local watershed continues to gain momentum, local and regional environmental organizations continue to weigh in with their opposition to the development of Knoop Prairie. Here is an excerpt from a recent letter by Tom Butch of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Association:
"The Ohio Scenic Rivers Association is a statewide organization whose mission is to ensure that our Scenic Rivers are healthy and continue to provide clean water for people and wildlife and a safe place for families to enjoy nature. The Stillwater River whose 58 miles run through Montgomery County has been listed as an Ohio Scenic River since 1975. It obtained this status because it had great local support – and still does – and has outstanding water quality, filter strips and riparian buffer along most of its shores, limited human intrusions, and high biological diversity. All of these qualities are at risk if the headwaters of Wiles Creek are overwhelmed by construction." You can read the complete letter at https://aullwood.audubon.org/OSRA_Letter
You can help to keep the momentum building for the preservation of Knoop Prairie, Wiles Creek and the Stillwater River and keep this issue in front of the City of Dayton Commission by attending the next two City of Dayton Commission Meetings on Wednesday July 10th at 8:30 AM and Wednesday July 17th at 6:00 PM. We need as many people as possible to continue to attend these meetings and speak out to keep attention focused on the issue.
Meetings take place at 101 W Third St, Second Floor, Dayton, OH 45402. Please arrive as early as possible and sign up to speak prior to entering the Chambers. When called, you will need to state your name and address for the record. If you are a registered voter in Dayton, make sure you state this as well. Then all you need to say is, "I oppose the development of the Paul Knoop Prairie." You can offer further opinions for up to the maximum 3 minutes allowed. Attendance at these meetings is crucial to show decision makers the sustained public interest and continuing resolve to preserve Knoop Prairie in perpetuity.
As always, please continue to direct people to www.saveknoop.org for more information, share the petition at https://www.change.org/p/preserve-knoop-prairie to expand the circle of those engaged in the effort, and use social media and other means to spread the word. You can also donate to the Save Knoop Prairie Fund via The Dayton Foundation at https://aullwood.audubon.org/SaveKnoopFund now. Your ongoing efforts and support are crucial and greatly appreciated!
** UPDATE 27 JUNE 2019 **
Next Dayton City Commission Meetings on July 10 and July 17
Please help keep the preservation of Paul E. Knoop Jr. Prairie, Wiles Creek and the local watershed before the City of Dayton Commission by attending the next two City of Dayton Commission Meetings on Wednesday July 10th at 8:30 AM and Wednesday July 17th at 6:00 PM. (NOTE: The meeting scheduled for July 3rd has been cancelled.)
We need as many people as possible to attend each and every meeting in order to keep this issue active and alive. These meetings take place at 101 W Third St, Second Floor, Dayton, OH 45402. If you go, please arrive as early as possible and sign up to speak prior to entering the Chambers! When called, you will need to state your name and address for the record. If you are a registered voter in Dayton, make sure you state this for the Commissioners. Then all you need to say is, "I oppose the development of the Paul Knoop Prairie." You can comment further for up to 3 minutes, the maximum time allowed per speaker. Your attendance at these meetings is crucial to demonstrate sustained public interest and our continuing resolve to preserve Knoop Prairie in perpetuity. Further meeting details and future meeting dates are available at https://www.daytonohio.gov/159/City-Commission-Office Thank you for your ongoing support!
** UPDATE 25 JUNE 2019 **
Wednesday June 26 Dayton City Commission Meeting
We are asking all those available to attend the City of Dayton Commission Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday June 26th at 8:30 AM. We need as many people as possible to attend each and every meeting to keep this issue before the City Commission, remind them of the sustained public interest and emphasize that we remain serious about saving Paul Knoop Prairie, Wiles Creek and the local watershed. These meetings take place at 101 W Third St, Second Floor, Dayton, OH 45402. If you go, please arrive as early as possible and sign up to speak prior to entering the Chambers! When called, you will need to state your name and address for the record. If you are a registered voter in Dayton, make sure you state this for the Commissioners. Then all you need to say is, "I oppose the development of the Paul Knoop Prairie." You can comment further for up to 3 minutes, the maximum time allowed per speaker. This is a crucial demonstration of our incredible continuing community support. Further meeting details and future meeting dates are available at https://www.daytonohio.gov/159/City-Commission-Office Thank you for your dedication!
** UPDATE 21 JUNE 2019 **
Dayton City Commission Meeting June 19th, 2019 and Fact Checks
Our thanks to all who attended the most recent City of Dayton Commission Meeting on Wednesday, June 19th. More than 50 people spoke out to permanently preserve Knoop Prairie and as always, we greatly appreciate your support, dedication and eloquence! You can read more about this meeting in the Dayton Daily News article "Dayton plans for prairie development draw more protests".
However, a number of inaccurate and misleading statements were made at this City of Dayton Commission Meeting. Here are the facts:
“Airport staff regularly shares the airport layout plan. This map clearly shows the development parcels controlled by the airport.”
FACT CHECK: The map received by Aullwood Audubon from Airport staff on February 28, 2019 did not show the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie as a site for “future development”. The map shows “future development” as coded yellow. Note that the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. parcel (#313) on the attached map is coded white. (See Attachment A)
“The lease agreement for this property [Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie] expired in 2007 and was not renewed.”
FACT CHECK: Aullwood Audubon attempted to renew the lease of the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie parcel but the Dayton International Airport refused to renew the lease. (See Attachment B) Then Executive Director, Charity Krueger, responded to this letter in February, 2008. (See Attachment C)
“In the almost 12 years since the lease has expired, Aullwood has never approached the City with an offer to purchase the property in order to maintain it in its current undeveloped site.”
FACT CHECK: Aullwood Audubon was repeatedly told that the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie parcel could not be purchased under FAA regulations. In addition, Aullwood Audubon was repeatedly assured by Airport staff that there were no development plans for the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie parcel because it was in the Airport Protection Zone. In fact, for the past 4 years, Aullwood Audubon was contracted by the City of Dayton to conduct airport research on bird populations on land parcels that included the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie (Parcel #313 on the airport master plan) and never once during this close partnership was it made known to Aullwood that the parcel could be sold in the future.
“On February 20th a notice was sent to many nearby landlord-owners, nearby land owners, including Aullwood Audubon, to make them aware of the potential rezoning and the public hearing that would be held on March 12th.“
FACT CHECK: After receipt of the zoning notice from the City of Dayton regarding the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. parcel (#313), Aullwood Audubon reached out to Airport staff for clarification and were assured that there were no development plans for that parcel and that the rezoning was only an FAA requirement.
“On May 1st, the airport again met with Aullwood to explain that there may be an end user to the site.”
FACT CHECK: Only after the City of Dayton had agreed to sell Knoop Prairie for industrial development did Airport staff arrive at Aullwood Audubon on May 1, 2019 with an Airport Master Plan map and a Plat of the Paul E. Knoop, Jr. Prairie parcel, indicating that there was a definitive plan to develop this parcel. This was the first notification that Aullwood Audubon received regarding the proposed development.
FACT CHECK: On May 6, at a regularly scheduled Friends of Aullwood Executive Board Meeting, the Airport’s plans to develop parcel #313 were shared with members by Executive Director Alexis R. Faust.
“During Aullwood board meetings on May 13th and May 22nd, a City of Dayton staff member, who is a member of the Aullwood board, was dismissed from meetings regarding the subject. This was a missed opportunity to have an open dialogue among board members about this project.”
FACT CHECK: At a regularly scheduled Friends of Aullwood Board Meeting on May 13, 2019, the Airport staff person referenced here was asked by the Chair of the Friends of Aullwood Board to recuse himself from discussions between Aullwood Audubon and the Dayton International Airport because such actions would put him in violation of the Friends of Aullwood Board Conflict of Interest Policy, signed by said employee, which clearly states in part that “Board members have a fiduciary duty to conduct themselves without conflict to the interests of the Friends of Aullwood, Inc. In their capacity as Board members, they must subordinate personal, individual business, third-party, and other interests to the welfare and best interests of the Friends of Aullwood, Inc.” (See Attachment D for the full policy)
FACT CHECK: There was no Board meeting held at Aullwood Audubon on May 22, 2019.