Monthly Archives: May 2012

WIBW reports about Dornwood

Last Wednesday, May 23, 13 News at 10 reported about the efforts to “Bring Dornwood Back”. You can watch the broadcast by clicking the link below. The item about Dornwood by Justin Surrency begins after about 6 minutes.

Timeline: Dornwood since January 2012

Prior to January 2012 the property containing the ball fields was owned by different owners, City of Topeka, USD 501, Highland Park Baseball League and Dornwood Women Softball League.  This autonomous ownership made it difficult to work together for the improvement of all the baseball diamonds.

Kansas Trails Council had a Memorandum of Understanding to maintain the 7 miles of Mountain Bike Trails inside Dornwood Park. This hardy group of volunteers did much to keep the Mountain Bike Trails maintained.  There are many Mountain Bikers who regularly ride these trails.

City employees were tasked with taking care of the 2.2 miles of Nature Hiking Trails and over all maintenance of Dornwood.  The valiant efforts of City employees like Bob Foster, Bill Riphahn and Tom Hammer over the years is to be commended.  A cut back in funding over the years had allowed the park to retreat into disrepair and over growth of the invasive honeysuckle, which was not introduced to Eastern Kansa until 1976.  This was the condition as we begin our timeline starting 2012.

Timeline since January 2012

  • January 1st: Consolidation of the Topeka P&R begins with Shawnee County P&R department.
  • February 6th: SCP&R Advisory Board holds listening tour at Highland Acres NIA where they hear passionate residents’ and organizations ask what they individually can do to bring Dornwood Back. Highland Acres Executive Committee approves to sponsor a collective approach in revitalizing Dornwood.
  • February 25th: Highland Acres NIA brings many organizations together, at Colonial Park Townhomes, to see if there is an interest among the groups to revitalize Dornwood Park. The attitude of that meeting was “Yes We Can” and “Let’s Do It Now!”.  Meetings continued biweekly at Echo Ridge Community Center of the various groups and staff of SCP&R.
  • May 7th: Many varied groups working together formed Friends of Dornwood Group. FOD was approved unanimously by the Shawnee County Commissioners to operate under the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation. Quite an amazing feat in just two months as there were multiple property negotiations involved. It was the cooperative spirit and focus to revitalize this great multi-purpose park. Partnerships were formed with HPBA, DGSB, Topeka Audubon, Kansas Trails Council, and Neighborhood Associations.

Today the work continues as many partnerships are being formed with others who desire to “Bring Dornwood Back”. Eradication of honeysuckle, by volunteers, is underway. The master plan for Dornwood is being developed. During the development of the master plan, several ideas for improvement will be considered. From better drainage of the softball diamonds to improved accessibility of the hiking trails so people with strollers and wheelchairs can also enjoy the over 120 bird species that call Dornwood home. Wednesday, August 1st 6:30PM, a special listening tour will be held at Deer Creek Valley RV Park, where you will be encouraged to tell FOD and SCPR what you would like to be your Dornwood Experience. Until then you can let us know what your ideas are through the ‘Ideas‘ page on this website.

Volunteer Coordinator appointed

On Saturday May 20th, members of the Friends of Dornwood steering team met at the Echo Ridge Community Center. During this meeting  the official structure of the organisation and the bylaws were discussed. Several organisations indicated they would like to volunteer and help clean up the park. To manage this, Friends of Dornwood steering team member Danielle Kruse was appointed as the volunteer coordinator. You can reach her using the contact form on this website.

Local media reports about plans Dornwood Park

The news about our plans with Dornwood park and the support from the Board of County Commissioners was picked up by several of the local media. Find a link to the different items from May 7, 2012 below.

Commissioners Approve FOD and Dornwood Baseball Improvements

The Shawnee County Commission unanimously passed a Resolution Of Support for the Master Improvement Plan for Dornwood Park.  Thus the Friends of Dornwood (FOD) became associated with the Shawnee County Parks Foundation as a friends group under the SCPF. Historians mark your calendar, today, May 7, 2012, was the birth of Friends of Dornwood.

This is great news for FOD because now we can operate as a 501c3 organization.  This designation enhances fund raising for Public/Private partnerships on improvements and the establishment of an endowment fund that will assure Dornwood to remain a multi-use park into the future.

Commissioners commented that they feel this partnership between the Parks & Recreation and FOD will become a role model for the improvement of other parks in Shawnee County.

FOD is forming a marketing team to introduce Shawnee County, residents, organizations, groups, churches, and businesses to the Dornwood Experience.  In the future, from baseball to butterflies, from mountain biking to bird watching, from bat houses to organized nature walks, you will be able to experience it all at Dornwood.

Now the real work begins…. it is time to become involved so you can be part of the evolving of Dornwood.  Check out how you can be more involved soon at the volunteer page on the FOD web-site.

The BCC also approved immediate improvenent of the lighting for the baseball complex in the form of buried aluminum wiring.  That improvement will be done within two weeks.

Dornwood park on agenda for Board of County Commissioners meeting (May 7th)

Dornwood park is part of the agenda of this weeks Shawnee County Commissioners meeting. The Department of Parks and Recreation will present their master improvement plan to the board, the the board will consider the lighting repair and the new contract with the Girls Softball Association and the Highland Park Baseball Association. Friends of Dornwood and several partners plan to be represented to show community support to the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation plans. The meeting is scheduled for Monday morning, May 7th, 9AM at the Shawnee County Courthouse in the basement at the far west end of the building.

A draft of the agenda can be downloaded here: Agenda. Item D 1-4 are Dornwood Park related.

If you would like to attend this meeting, please note that these meetings move rather fast and speaking time is limited.