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Volunteers creating nature center from old golf building in Hamilton

Troy and Kathy Schwable, along with a platoon of volunteers, have been rehabbing a deteriorated building in Joyce Park and converting it into a meeting space that serves as a nature center for Hamilton’s parks.

The former Joe Nuxhall driving range building was without heat and electricity for a while and deteriorated. The couple, who also have been creating the nearby Riverside Natural Area with crews of other volunteers, has been restoring the structure.

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The building will be air-conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter. Other plans call for new soccer fields behind the building, where the driving range was. The couple also hopes the front of the building can feature a mural of pollinators.

“One thing we want to be able to do is offer programs to the citizens on the weekends or on evenings,” Troy Schwable said.

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He envisions offering programs for children where they make crafts or learn about nature, as well as adult classes on such subjects as pollinators, how to create backyard gardens, how to identify birds, and how to take good nature pictures.

“I’d like to have it done by wintertime,” Troy Schwable said.

“We hope to start programming next summer,” Kathy Schwable said.

The building also will feature a “seed room,” which is insulated on three walls and the ceiling, but not on the wall that faces the outside. A seed room allows the seeds inside it to become “cold stratified” so they go through the seasonal cycle of temperatures, “so whenever planting has to happen, they’re ready to go.”

The seeds will be used to plant naturally occurring plants in the prairies of the Riverside Natural Area.

Kathy Schwable said although she and her husband have received credit for leading the parks efforts, many other volunteers have offered a lot of help: “We couldn’t do it without them,” she said.

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The couple works on the 200-acre wildlife area and the building at Joyce Park nearly every day of the week.

Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the natural area’s creation, planting trees, picking up litter, building improvements there and other work.

Meanwhile, the pair have other plans for the Riverside Natural Area. Among them are creating a canoe/kayak launch into the Great Miami River and planting a small grove of Linden trees nearby to celebrate the tree for which Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood is named.

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