Miami Valley’s not-so-hidden treasures

William “Bill” Lutz - Contributing columnist

It’s no surprise that the Lutz family has been around these parts for a long time. Currently, I live about a three-minute walk from where my father grew up and he didn’t live very far from where his father grew up. There have been generations of the Lutz family that have grown and lived on the east side of the community. So, when the holiday season comes around every year there is no need for a long automobile ride or a long layover at airport; all of our family lives pretty much in town.

And while I am extremely thankful about having family so close, it makes stories about Thanksgiving, frankly, boring. There is no interesting stories about “going back home” or meeting up with old friends. Perhaps that is what happens when you have lived your whole life in the same town.

Yet, I am always fascinated by the stories of how people got here. What caused an individual’s or family’s life to bring them right here to the Miami Valley? Better yet, why the Miami Valley?

Sure, there are a lot of stories about economics. The large corporations of yesteryear still attracted people from all over the country to come here. And even some of the small shops of today have caused many a new resident to call the Miami Valley home; perhaps that is due in no small part to having one of the best welding schools in the world right here in our hometown.

And while it may have been these economic opportunities that brought them here, it was a quality of life that helped keep these folks here. Sometimes we overlook that whole “quality of life” idea. We don’t know exactly how to measure it. Heck, we can’t even agree completely on what it is. For some folks it’s rooting on the Ohio State Buckeyes on a Saturday afternoon; for some it’s finding a warm and inviting place of worship on a Sunday morning. Quick and easy access to the big city, wins many over, while being out in nature in the middle of nowhere warms the heart of others.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to living in the same community your whole life is that you can become quickly immune to all the great things that are in our community. The things that make this place a great place to live can too easily become things we take for granted.

Take all our regional museums for example. The Dayton Art Institute, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, the National Museum of the Air Force. All of these facilities have a real regional (and even national!) draw.

But to the average resident, these things just blend into the background. Maybe even these things are seen as boring. Without a doubt, so many times we don’t even take the time to enjoy what we have in our own backyard. I hate to admit it, but I can’t remember the last time I was at the Boonshoft Museum or even the Air Force Museum.

Closer to home, take a look at our own Fort Piqua Plaza or Hobart Arena. These buildings are not only landmarks, but they are hubs of activity. It is no secret that the Fort Piqua Plaza, for its size, is one of the nicest public libraries in the entire state, if not the country. There are towns three and four sizes the city of Troy that would absolutely love to have a facility like Hobart Arena.

Even our county park district, has some of the most unique and diverse park settings around. If you have ever been to the Hobart Urban Nature Preserve, you almost have to remind yourself that you are literally smack dab in the middle of town.

This holiday season, let’s take a step back and take a look at some of the really cool places and activities we have in our own backyards. Our region and our county have a lot of great places that people would travel far and wide to see. Let’s not lose sight of how lucky we are to have these treasures in our own backyard.

William “Bill” Lutz

Contributing columnist

William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at

William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at