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Published: Tuesday, 5/16/2006

Sylvania mulls restoration of a ravine in Harroun park

Sylvania officials are being asked by City Council to draw up a plan to restore a ravine, described as a key to the Lathrop House project, in Harroun Community Park.

Council wants the administration to come up with a plan to restore the ravine to its condition before a retention pond was constructed and to solve any drainage issues. A cost estimate for the work is to be included in the plan.

Mayor Craig Stough said that the plan would be presented to council at its next regular meeting June 5.

During council's May 1 meeting, several area residents said they were upset by changes in the park where the Lathrop House, a stop along the Underground Railroad for slaves, is located. Some residents said they were stunned to see trees had been removed from the ravine and the retention pond had been built in the park.

Sue McHugh, president of Friends of Lathrop House, and others have asked that the city reshape the ravine and plant mature trees. It is said slaves used the ravine as cover while they made their way to the house, then hid in the basement while escaping slavery and traveling to Canada.

Some residents maintain the retention pond should have been on the adjacent St. Joseph Catholic Church property because the park's drainage issue is related to runoff from that property.

Sylvania Service Director Jeffrey Ballmer has said the pond, designed to facilitate drainage, was put in the park rather than on church land because it was a more strategic location.

The retention pond in the park was built to solve drainage problems for the church and the city, the mayor said, but he noted that the work wasn't sensitive to the historical ravine and "we need to make that right."

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