Youngsters play at Fossil Park -- from left, John Humason, 6, Luke Jennewine, 3, Karlee Mitchell, 4, Maria Humason, 3, Jackie Jennewine, 2, and McKenna Heinl, 3. The other park is Centennial Quarry.
In not every city are two abandoned quarry operations repurposed and turned into community recreational sites. But it is true in Sylvania, where Centennial Quarry and Fossil Park have been given new lives.
Saturday will be a special day for the Olander Park System and the Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District as they unveil Sylvania's newest Ohio Historical Marker, celebrating the rich geological history of both sites.
Centennial Quarry has been a swimming spot since the early 1930s, when Toledo Stone and Glass Co. stopped operations there. The joint recreation district now owns the property.
Establishing Fossil Park, a smaller quarry southwest of Centennial, was suggested to City Forester Art Landseadel by officials of Hanson Aggregates Midwest Inc. Mr. Landseadel then met with director of the Olander Park System, Gary Madrzykowski. The park opened on Sept. 22, 2001.
Ken Katafias, operations manager at Sylvania Recreation Corp., said Fossil Park once "really was a trash pit."
"It was full of old refrigerators and tires and anything that people wanted to dump," he said.
Sandy Gratop, naturalist for the park system said many entities worked together to establish something that would benefit the city. "It was a big cleanup," she said. "We invited the public in to help."
The park system then worked with officials of the city of Sylvania and of Hanson Aggregates, which still oversees the mining of limestone near Sylvania Avenue and Centennial Road, to carry out plans for the park.
Mr. Katafias said the historical marker has much significance.
"It's recognizing both of these facilities. One as being a longtime operating facility that has provided recreation opportunities to countless hundreds of thousands of people, and the other is a facility where we're talking about fossils," he said.
The marker is to be placed on Centennial Road, near the bus turnaround. One side of the marker will feature Centennial Terrace and Quarry, and the other side will showcase Fossil Park.
Mr. Katafias said that the best part about both facilities is that they are open for recreation.
Ms. Gratop said visitors to Fossil Park can work through silica shale with their hands, in search of Devonian Era fossils, which is what makes the site particularly unusual, especially in the city.
"I look at Sylvania as a jewel in northwest Ohio," she said.
Dedication of the marker is to take place at Centennial Terrace and Quarry, on Centennial Road across from Mayberry Square, on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.