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Published: Sunday, 4/1/2007

Sylvania looking to restore ravine

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nearly a year after a retention pond was created in Harroun Community Park, the city of Sylvania is still exploring options to address issues, including how to restore a ravine near the Lathrop House in the park.

Councilman Keith Haddad has suggested that council explore the creation of a wetlands to replace the retention pond, and he wants the ravine restored so that it looks like it did previously.

During council's parks and forestry committee meeting last week, he said he had met with a consultant, hired by the city, to talk about options other than relocating the pond.

Following discussions about the pond, the committee approved a motion to allow Feller Finch & Associates of Maumee to complete plans for the creation of wetlands that would replace the pond; to request an opinion from the city law director on legal obligations related to the pond, and to have the parks and forestry committee involved to keep track of what is going on with the situation.

After the Lathrop House, said to be a station on the Underground Railroad, was relocated to the Sylvania park and a new education building was constructed on the nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church property, a retention pond was created in the park last spring to accommodate runoff and drainage issues.

However, residents complained that bulldozers ruined the ravine near the Lathrop House. The ravine reportedly was used to provide cover to slaves escaping to Canada along the Underground Railroad.

Council decided to hire a consultant to make recommendations on rebuilding the ravine; on construction of a ramp for the Lathrop House to provide accessibility for handicapped people, and on what to do with the retention pond. Feller Finch was hired as the consultant.

About 20 percent of the existing pond is on church property, said Jeffrey Ballmer, the city's director of public service.

James Moan, city law director, said Sylvania entered into an agreement with the church to allow the retention pond to be on park land.

Last summer, the pond flooded during heavy rains, Councilman Doug Haynam said, pointing out that when a storm-water retention pond is built in a floodplain, it is not going to function properly.

This situation, he said, was created without council's input.

"Who is responsible for solving this situation?" he asked. Nobody has answered that, he said, and he wants to know the answer before committing city funds to fix the problems.



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