Kettering set to break ground on new recreation site honoring military hero



KETTERING — The park that’s been talked about for years on the city’s north end will move closer to reality Thursday.

That’s when Kettering plans to break ground on Gentile Park, a 19-acre site designed to honor a military flying ace from decades past while providing recreation to the surrounding neighborhood for generations to come.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Kettering Assistant City Manager Steve Bergstresser said. “We are very excited to kick it off and we think it will be a tremendous asset not only to the neighborhood that it’s located in. But it will also be a tremendous asset to the city as a whole.”

The $2.48 million project just south of Kettering Business Park — the former site of an air station named for World War II hero Maj. Dominic Gentile — will fill a significant void, Bergstresser said.

Credit: STAFF

Credit: STAFF

“Probably the biggest benefit that this park (will) provide is this neighborhood around the former Gentile Air Force Station really has been underserved when it comes to park infrastructure,” he said.

“For many years, the closest neighborhood parks would require crossing either Dorothy Lane or Wilmington Pike — major thoroughfares — in order to access park infrastructure,” he added.

The park to be built at 915 Peach Orchard Road will have amenities that other Kettering recreation spots lack, according to the city.

They will include a zip line and a bike path providing a link to the Dayton-Kettering Connector at Wiltshire Boulevard, tying into a pedestrian trail that extends to the University of Dayton’s campus, records show.

It will also have:

• Playground areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12;

• One half-mile walking path;

• Open lawn green space;

• Historical recognition of Gentile. He was a Piqua native and a fighter pilot who surpassed the record of another Ohioan, Eddie Rickenbacker, who downed 26 aircraft in World War I.

“It will have a nature-themed playground,” Bergstresser said. “We have those on a smaller scale in Kettering. But this will be by far the largest nature-based playground that we will have.”

Contractor OHeil Site Solutions will likely start construction in August, and the park is targeted for completion next spring, Bergstresser said.

The first several weeks of the project will include dump trucks and other large vehicles traveling Dorothy Lane and Acorn Drive as dirt is removed and replaced, he added.

“Most of the major earthwork … will happen very early in the project,” Bergstresser said. “As we move through summer, residents can expect that activity. But that will taper off as the project progresses.”

OHeil bid about $2.29 million for the work, and the city bought the playground equipment separately for $194,828, he said.

Funding for the project also includes a $141,000 state grant, according to the city.

“We’re just very excited to finally be able to provide (a park) for the neighborhood,” Bergstresser said. “And we hope that it will be a centerpiece of the neighborhood for many years to come.”

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