BEAVERCREEK — The public is invited to take one last look around Russ Nature Reserve as it stands 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 before the tornado-damaged Russ home is demolished.
The 90-acre Kemp Road property made up of prairie and woodlands has been closed since its direct hit by the Memorial Day tornadoes. Volunteers showed up a few weeks later to pick up tree debris at the site. Ultimately more than 600 damaged trees were removed for public safety reasons.
“The park looks nothing like it did before,” a Greene County Parks & Trails (GCP&T) Facebook post states.
According to the post, the agency reached a settlement with the insurance company. As a result of the damage, the Russ home will be demolished.
Fritz and Dolores Russ gifted the property and their family home, a 1962 ranch-style 4,000-square-foot house, to GCP&T in 2008.
The home is characterized by the Mockernut Hickory tree that grows through the center of it. The tree will remain and become part of the park, according to the GCP&T post.
GCP&T Director Jon Dobney said future plans for the home and park are underway.
“We were in the process of modifying the Russ home, turning it into an event center, at the time of the tornado outbreak,” Dobney said. “We plan to continue to pursue this goal and to pay tribute to the Russ legacy with the design of the new building. Our agency is meeting with consultants next weekend to determine the best plan of action to meet this goal.”
Beyond the home, Russ Nature Reserve at 2380 Kemp Road features an all-natural wood Lovely Nature Playscape, nearly four miles of trails through meadows and woods, gardens and wildlife havens, plus an apiary for beekeeping.
Contact this reporter at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.