LISBON - Willow Grove Park is closed and will remain so until the village is able to repair a sinkhole at the park entrance.
The sinkhole is in the middle of the gravel road just inside the park gate and it was reported Sunday afternoon by someone going to the park. Street Superintendent Jim Oliver was contacted and ordered the road be closed because the sinkhole was expanding as motorists continued to drive over it on their way to the park.
The issue was raised at this week's Village Council meeting by Oliver, who said the sinkhole was now about 3-feet wide, with Mayor Dan Bing adding it appeared to be about 12-feet deep. There is an Ohio Department of Transportation culvert about 7-feet down but the sinkhole continues beyond that for several more feet.
"I don't think we can tackle that," Oliver told council. "It's the biggest one I've ever seen."
Oliver said ODOT officials told him the culvert is essential to diverting all of the storm run-off from U.S. Route 30 as the road descends sharply into Lisbon. The storm water goes under the park road and into a small concrete spillway that empties into the Middle Fork of the Little Beaver Creek. Without the culvert, the park entrance would wash away.
Council member Jeff Snyder wondered if there was any way they could install a new culvert on top of the existing culvert and tie it into the existing system, creating a new discharge point in the ravine that leads down to the creek. Oliver said he would look into that.
Snyder said he was opposed to spending much money on repairing the sinkhole, at least right now, since that funding is desperately needed to repair village streets reduced to rubble by the harsh winter.
"If you have to, plate it and close the park," he said.
The street department did just that, placing a metal plate over the sinkhole, and the park remains closed. Alisa Gostey, the mayor's secretary, said no groups have reserved Willow Grove Park's pavilion in April or May.
In related news, Oliver reported the street department has used 28 tons of blacktop to date repairing village streets, with more ordered. He also provided copies of a letter he sent to Chesapeake Energy asking the company to provide some financial assistance toward the upkeep of village streets.
"Due to the extreme traffic from trucks doing business in the village of Lisbon on behalf of Chesapeake Energy, our streets have suffered tremendous damage with extreme potholes, and a general breakdown of the road, particularly at intersections," Oliver wrote.
He heard that Chesapeake has helped other communities with road maintenance and hopes they will do likewise for Lisbon.
In other action, council agreed to hire the list of 11 lifeguards to staff the Sadie Van Fossan swimming pool this summer, with lifeguard Shelby Renfro named as assistant manager.
Council also voted to implement a new pool pass system where a $20 card will entitle the holder to 15 visits.
On the issue of erecting a dusk-to-dawn light at Play Town to keep people from congregating there after dark, someone suggested relocating the nearby Ohio Edison street light, which would accomplish the goal and do it cheaper.