Gentile Nature Park Update
Update: Sept. 14, 2023
Playground grading & portion of pathway complete
The rough grading of the playground areas is complete, and the construction crew from Oheil Site Solutions is now installing stormwater infrastructure within the site. Soil was brought in this past week to complete the grading for the new playground areas, and the pathway along Peach Orchard has also been completed. Next up, the curb ramps along West Avenue and Peach Orchard will be completed.
We are continuing to work closely with the contractor to accomplish as much as possible before winter arrives.
The groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Gentile Nature Park was held Thursday, July 20, 2023. Kettering Mayor Peggy Lehner, former Mayor Don Patterson and PRCA Director Mary Beth O'Dell were greeted during the event by around 100 enthusiastic residents. Construction is now underway and the park is expected to be completed in the summer of 2024.
View the flyover video rendering of the park, read the project plans and more below. (Note: Video is for illustrative purposes only.)
Gentile Nature Park Construction Progress
Gentile Park Project Details
The City of Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department's plans for the new Gentile Nature Park include removing the mounds on the property and replacing every tree removed during construction with two new trees, which will bolster Kettering’s urban canopy.
The naturalized neighborhood park also will include:
- Playground areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12
- One-half mile walking path
- Open lawn green space
- Bike connection to path off Wiltshire Boulevard
- Historical recognition of Major Don Gentile
- 10-15 parking spots and street access nearby
Thank you for your feedback and patience with this project. If you have any questions regarding Gentile Park, please contact Park Superintendent Gary Schussler at email@example.com or PRCA Director Mary Beth O’Dell at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also leave comments or questions in the form at the bottom of this page.
About Major Don Gentile
Dominic Salvatore "Don" Gentile (December 6, 1920 – January 28, 1951) was also known as "Ace of Aces." Gentile was a World War II USAAF pilot who surpassed Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I record of 26 downed aircraft. He later served in the post-war U.S. Air Force.
Gentile was born in Piqua, Ohio and was buried with full military honors in Saint Joseph Cemetery in Lockbourne, Ohio. Gentile Air Force Station in Kettering was named in his honor in 1962. The installation closed in 1996. Gentile AFS was also the site of the Defense Electronics Supply Center (DESC) and is the future site of Gentile Park!
History of Defense Electronics Supply Center (DESC) and Gentile Park
Beginning in the early 1800s the land was owned by the Bradford family one of the most prominent families in Van Buren Township. The foundation of the Bradford Family farmhouse was built with stones from the Beavertown limestone quarries.
1944 Bradford property purchased by US Military for consolidation of Army Signal Corps supply functions. Construction began utilizing Italian prisoners of war. The Bradford Family farmhouse became the Base Commander’s home.
1950 Army Signal Corps Station was put under control of Air Force Logistics Command
1951 name of base changed to Gentile Air Force Station in honor of WWII flying ace Major Don S. Gentile
1962 Defense Electronic Supply Center established at Gentile Station
March 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommends Gentile Air Force Base closure with closing date set for 1996.
October 1993 DESC Reuse Committee established
June 1994 – Kettering PRCA Director Jim Garges proposes using a portion of Gentile Station/DESC as a public park. The area of Kettering surrounding DESC was underserved by neighborhood parks and the closing of DESC offered a unique opportunity to remedy that situation with the addition of recreation amenities and greenspace.
1995 Environmental investigation and cleanup begins
December 1996 – DESC officially closes and mission is transferred to Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio.
1996-2002 Environmental cleanup continues. Some buildings demolished and land cleared for future development1998-2003
1997- first parcel of land at DESC transferred to City of Kettering. Transfer of parcels continued as buildings were vacated and environmental issues were resolved,
January 2000 - “Gentile Park” proposed as name for new park and first public meeting held to ask for input from residents on what they would like to see in a park. Over the next 20 years various plans were considered and more public input was requested before the current plan was finalized..
2003 – final parcel of land at Gentile Station transferred to City of Kettering. Over the next 20 years multiple plans were considered before plans were finalized for Gentile Park.