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MetroParks prioritizes money over dead’s wishes in sale of Reily farm

Just because you are a government entity shouldn’t mean you get to do whatever you want and go against people’s wishes. Namely, those of the dead.

In Reily, just a little way outside of Oxford, a storm is brewing among the community. At 5750 Dunwoody Road, the 187-acre Stander family farm was sold by the Butler County Metroparks to the highest bidder, Myron Bowling. Bowling now plans to subdivide the land into 12 five-acre lots for $120,000 apiece. Bowling divided the land to be sold individually, and Bowling said he doesn’t know the plans of the buyers.

In 2003, when the Butler County Metroparks purchased part of the farm from Carl and Nell Stander, there was an agreement that the land would be used as an undeveloped preserve during their lifetimes and the lifetime of their son Tom Stander, who also lived on the farm.

After the deaths of Carl Stander in 2006 and Tom Stander in 2019, Metroparks assumed full control of the property. Tom Stander had hoped the land could be turned into a park in honor of his parents who had passed, and many thought that agreement stood even after he died. 

But the park board decided it didn’t need another park in the area, and that the needs of the board would be better met by selling the property. It figured putting the proceeds toward improvements to the already existing parks in the area would be more beneficial.

Look, I get it — money is great. But not when unethically going against the wishes of the Stander family. A group of community members seems to agree.

Sarah and Andy Dillhoff have taken the lead on a small protest to prevent the sale of the land now and into the future. 

They created a Facebook group called Preserve the Stander Preserve and started a petition objecting to the original auction before the land was sold to Bowling. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in their efforts. But they did not stop fighting and are continuing to shed light on the issue. 

On Jan. 29, the community, including the Dillhoffs, attended a virtual Metroparks board meeting to speak their piece. They spent countless hours and energy hoping to be able to work together with the Metroparks. 

Instead, at this virtual meeting, a senior board member talked ill of the dead. He went as far as calling Tom Stander “a pain in the ass.” Some community members were muted whenever they attempted to speak about the sale of the land. 

The land sold for more than a million dollars, but how can a price be placed on land rich with such history, including a barn that has been standing since 1824?

The members of the Facebook community group are not as concerned with the legality of the sale, as they are with the approach taken by the Metroparks, and honestly, who can blame them?

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They should keep fighting. They should continue to speak up. They should use their voice. Don’t be afraid of an organization just because it has a big name. Even in the battle of David and Goliath, the little guy won.

Bowling says the members of the Stander Preserve group are wrong, that there has never been any documentation of the property being an actual preserve. 

He must not have seen the sign in front of the property that marks it the “Carl and Nell Stander Preserve.”