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Published: 10/6/2004

Sylvania: Olander seeks to improve Fossil Park

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Olander Park System will try to get restrooms built and utilities extended to its popular Fossil Park on Centennial Road.

The attraction has been open on weekends for three summers and has had an average of about 20,000 visitors annually, according to park system officials.

In addition to those visitors, about 2,000 members of school and Scout groups also visit the site annually.

Gary Madrzykowski, executive director of the system, said he will use a $100,000 loan from the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corp. as matching money in applying for a state grant for the work.

If successful, he said, the park system should have about $250,000 for the project.

Improvements at the site have been delayed because of questions about lease agreements and a concern about the expense of extending water and sewer lines through what was thought to be largely rock.

Mr. Madrzykowski said tests indicate there is enough subsoil to extend water and sewer lines to the park and that suitable lease arrangements are under discussion.

The 10-acre site is leased by Sylvania from Hanson Aggregates Midwest, Inc., and in turn leases the property, a former working quarry, to Olander.

Olander board members had been concerned that any improvements they made to the property could be lost unless they had more control of the site than under current leasing agreements.

Even with that, Mr. Madrzykowski said the popularity of the site - which has had visitors from around the world - demands improvements.

The attraction is the pit at the bottom of the old quarry where Hanson regularly dumps rocks from its ongoing quarrying operations.

The rocks aren't suitable for the company's purposes, but are rich with fossils that can be seen and removed by hand.

It is reportedly one of only three fossil parks in the country and the only one that has fossils from the Devonian Era, about 375 million years ago.

If the grant is approved, Mr. Madrzykowski said he would like the utilities, the rest room and a small office finished by the end of next summer.

He said the improvements should also lead to expanding the number of days the park is open each week.



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