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Published: Tuesday, 6/6/2006

Sylvania mulls park ravine restoration

Estimated costs to modify the retention pond and restore a ravine in Sylvania's Harroun Community Park near the historic Lathrop House range from $26,000 to $50,000, based on alternatives presented last night to city officials.

The proposals call for various steps to be taken to address drainage issues and to reshape the ravine.

The proposed alternatives were referred to City Council's parks and forestry committee. A committee meeting to discuss the matter was scheduled for 4 p.m. June 21 at Harroun park. The public is invited.

Mayor Craig Stough noted there are a variety of prices and options, and he said that no quick decision would be made. Rather, a decision would be made after the matter is reviewed and people have had an opportunity to respond to it.

The ravine should be contoured so that the park's trail isn't washed out by storm water, as has happened in the past, the mayor said

Jeffrey Ballmer, the city's director of public service, said that all three proposals would take a lot of fill dirt to reshape the ravine.

City Council recently asked Sylvania officials to draw up a plan to restore the ravine, described as key to the Lathrop House project, in the park. Council wanted 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.

Last month, 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. It is said slaves escaping slavery and traveling to Canada used the ravine as cover while making their way to the house, then hid in the basement.

Some residents said they were stunned to see trees were removed from the ravine and that a retention pond was built in the park.

Several residents have asked that the city reshape the ravine and plant mature trees.

Seeding would be done by the city, and the city forester recommends a wildflower mix be used along with rye grasses at a cost of between $1,500 and $2,000. Because of the cost, availability, and maintenance, Mr. Ballmer does not recommend planting any large trees.

Some residents contend that 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.

Mr. 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.



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