Larry Funk knew he wanted to build a housing development on N. Prospect Street. There was only one hole in his plan. Or more accurately, there wasn't one.
The quadrant which Funk hoped to develop has previously been untouched. Backhoes and bulldozers were kept out by the sheer sogginess of the land. Funk proposed building a ditch, a project which the city of Oberlin has been considering for some time. The ditch would cut across the College's North Fields.
"Building is always tricky in Oberlin because of water. Because we have a lot of it," said College President Nancy Dye. "But frankly, having a large swale across North Fields doesn't seem prudent or wise."
According to Director of Public Works Mike Sigg, there is currently a ditch in the area where Funk has proposed to dig, although most people don't believe it. "Over the years, it has been overgrown," Sigg said. "Now we have nowhere to drain." The drainage ditch has been obscured by silt and soil and is now effectively useless.
Large rainstorms currently cause small floods at the end of N. Prospect Street. "If you'd drive off the end of the paved area, you'd drive into a swamp," Sigg said. Sigg decided the situation ought to be remedied.
"We said we'd construct it," said Funk of North Shore Properties. "We could do it more cost effectively and the city has to build a ditch no matter what."
"There are two separate and distinct issues here," Sigg said. "There is the current existing problem on Prospect. If the college says this is out of the question, we still need to do something. My interest is not necessarily in furthering the Funk subdivision. The ditch has been plugged up. What do we do?"
The area cannot be used by Funk or the college until a ditch has been constructed. "Right at the moment, I'm not sure what will happen," Funk said of his plans to construct a single-family housing development. "We're hoping something can be worked out. This would improve the college land at no cost to them."
Dye said the college is having engineers examine the plans.
Figs said although he had requested that the county engineer tailor his research to follow the original ditch plans, there are possible alternative methods of draining the land parcel Funk would like to develop. "We need to find something that benefits all three players," Sigg said. "The engineers will meet and then we'll all join hands and sing songs. Isn't that how the world works?"
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 1, September 5, 1997
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