I recall when I was young that we thoroughly enjoyed time we spent in parks; parks in Canada and the United States, including national parks like Jasper, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Parks. We have also been blessed to live near a couple of National Forests before returning to Troy. Although I remember those experiences and appreciate them as special times, it is likely some of my best memories as I was growing up came from the hours and energy expended in local municipal parks, like the City of Troy’s many parks.
Now, I realize not everyone enjoys being in the open-air, but most people enjoy nature and spending time outside, except maybe those who suffer from allergies. But even many of those individuals, like my daughter, enjoy the beauty of the out-of-doors, the flowers, the trees and the wildlife. Do you realize that the city of Troy has hundreds of acres of park, open space and recreational property to enjoy? Whether you thrive on nature, football, baseball, softball, soccer, or picnics, Troy has a park for you.
In the days when more people relished being outside rather than inside and, of course, in the days prior to television, gaming and other indoor entertainment, a number of Troy’s residents wanted to expand the community’s recreational amenities by creating a city park. Following many meetings, planning and discussion with the Miami Conservancy District, which owned the land along the river, the city was able to purchase the property on the north side of the Miami River between the B & O Railroad bridge and the old Dam Woods, which was a bit west of the Adams Street bridge, in 1921. Afterwards, they were able to lay out the City Park, west of Adams and Hobart Arena.
Since that time, one of the key development points for the city has been to maintain and continue to expand the parks, open spaces and recreational property in the city as it grew. According to the 2005 City Comprehensive Plan, the community has about 2,500 sq. ft. of this type of property per resident. In addition, the variety of recreational park land is almost unique to cities the size of Troy.
Aside from the obvious large original central park, Duke Park, etc., Troy also has numerous neighborhood parks which can be utilized. Many of these small parks have interesting stories behind them. Did you know that Menke Park on West Main St., bequeathed to the city in 1965 by Orval H. Menke, must forever remain a city park, or the property reverts to the family? The 4 – Acre Park was once a fruit orchard for Mr. Menke, and he desired that it continue as a place where families and residents could enjoy nature.
Another small park is the Clayton J. Brukner Park on the north side of the Troy Library property. Mr. Brukner was one of the owners of the Waco Aircraft Company in Troy. The strip of land was donated by Mr. Brukner while he was still living and posthumously dedicated to his memory. Mr. Brukner was not in favor of the park being named after him. The small gazebo in the common has been a favorite quiet place to read or meet with friends for a number of years.
Longtime Troy grocer Adam Long loaned a small parcel of land to the city in 1967 for use as a small outdoor recreational space on Atlantic Street. He did this, according to his son, because he knew children in the neighborhood needed a place to play that was not too far from home. Long Park was never owned by the city and is no longer in existence.
Two more recent and larger additions have been Duke Park and the Hobart Urban Nature Reserve. The land for Duke Park was actually purchased by the city in 1971. It was part of the old A.C. McCLung farm. The land was developed at a later date through the generosity of the Duke Foundation and, of
course, is still being further developed as a large recreational complex for baseball, softball, soccer, pickleball, tennis, etc. The property is quickly becoming THE outdoor sports complex for the community.
The Hobart Urban Nature Preserve was a gift of the William Hobart, Peter Hobart, William Howell and Robert Bravo families, and was originally part of a farm owned by the Hobart family. It was gifted to the community so the people of Troy could enjoy the beauty of rural nature within the city and can be used for biking, running, walking, jogging, birdwatching, etc. This preserve is under the auspices of the Miami County Park District, but is located right in Troy.
Troy is fortunate in that residents do not have to travel to the big city to find top-notch recreational facilities; nor to rural areas to find the peace of nature; and they do not have to live in a northern community to be able to take advantage of ice skating. Troy has it right here.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org