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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2003

Aid sought on project to enhance wetlands

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Oregon City Council agreed this week to apply for state matching funds that would cover most of the cost of purchasing 57 acres along Wynn Road to relocate a ditch and set up a buffer for wetlands.

Moving the ditch, which runs between Cedar Point and Bay Shore roads, would include creating a wetland system that would flow into two existing ponds.

Thomas Hays, assistant city law director, said the ponds would allow sediment to settle, preventing it from moving into Maumee Bay.

“This is our chance to step forward with the help of the University of Toledo Research Center and put in a first-class buffer for these waters,” Mr. Hays said.

Mr. Hays did not know how much the project would cost. If awarded, the grant would cover 80 percent of the cost.

The city has wanted to move the ditch away from Wynn because of erosion to the pavement. Members of the University of Toledo Research Center, Mr. Hays said, later conceived the environmental benefits. The plan calls to dig a ditch 300 feet to the east of the road.

Also included in the project are plans to build a buffer mound between the road and the relocated ditch and possibly a 10-foot-wide bike path.

Mr. Hays said dredging material from Lake Erie and the Maumee River, which has been deposited at the confined disposal facility three in Oregon, could be mixed with other dirt to build the buffer mound.

“This is also a chance to take that material and reuse it in a beneficial way,” Mr. Hays said.

Councilman Matt Szollosi said he had reservations about using dredge material, but still voted to apply for the grant.

The council passed a resolution calling for Maumee Bay State Park to be a national pilot site for an advanced bacteria-testing protocol being developed by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laboratory in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Councilman Jim Seaman said the intent is to build in a two-hour turnaround time for bacteria testing.

Such tests typically take 18 to 24 hours, Mr. Seaman said, meaning people unknowingly can be exposed to bacteria or needlessly kept away from the water.

“I don't think a two-hour turnaround for bacteria results is asking too much,” he said.

The EPA began its pilot study at Huntington Beach in Cleveland on Aug. 2. Huntington Beach followed West Beach in Indiana as the second in which the lab technique is being studied. The latter beach, part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is along Lake Michigan.

The council decided to postpone voting on an ordinance that would decrease the amount of overtime some city employees could earn.

Three city employees classified as professional supervisory technical employees who are not union members would not get overtime for shifts that they are scheduled to work under the proposal. A current ordinance, which this measure would repeal, allows employees to earn overtime.



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