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Olander Park System hopes to make own snow

Officials look to create winter playland with sledding hills, ice rink

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THE BLADE
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The weather report might say spring and 50 degrees this week, but snow is in the long-range forecast at Sylvan Prairie Park.

The park at 8601 Brint Rd., Sylvania Township, soon could be a winter playland for all ages. Olander Park System officials are moving forward on design plans for a day-and-night winter park that includes three sledding hills, lights, an ice rink, and a stargazing shelter.

But minimal snowfall these last two winters has made it tough sledding. Park officials, however, are considering buying snow-making machines to powder the eastern slope, Gemini Hill.

During a park-system board meeting last week, Olander commissioners discussed the costs of two snow machines and a pump system.

Because the hill’s eastern slope receives the least sunlight, it is an ideal site for the snow-making machine, Olander Director Gary Madrzykowski said.

One hill in the area, formerly part of a golf-course development, is not officially open to the public, although it has become a sledding spot in recent years for some local children.

Commissioner John Zeitler said in an interview that before any decision is made, the board must determine the amount of water that would be used, the amount of labor needed, and whether the noise from the snow guns would disturb nearby residents.

Smith GroupJJR, an architecture firm in Ann Arbor, is designing the project. Each snow machine costs $15,000 and the pump costs $10,000.

The total cost estimate for the project is $200,000, and that includes installation of the lighting and fences, acquistion of the snow machines, and grading of the trails up to the hilltop.

Cost to install the snow machines has not been determined. Mr. Madrzykowski is working with the design firm to solidify the project’s costs as officials concentrate on finalizing the master project.

The master plan includes grading three slopes for different sledding levels: Little Dipper, a 35-foot-high beginners’ hill; Gemini Hill, a midlevel 45-foot-high hill, and Orion Hill, the tallest at 50 feet high.

Lights will be installed throughout the park and slopes for nighttime sledding and play.

Sylvania resident Natalie Jackson said having the park open after 5 p.m. will give her an activity to do with her two children, Gus, 3, and Evvie, 6, during the week.

“I think having a sledding hill and lights for the long, dark winter nights is a great idea, and a new winter activity for the community,” Mrs. Jackson, 35, said.

Funds for the project come from Olander’s 0.5-mill operating levy, renewed in November, 2011.

Officials hope to complete the project by January, 2015.

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