A River Runs Through Wilson Park

Photos by Balinda Zimmerman
Paul Kanitz, with his riverside bench in the background sitting 3 feet under water.

By Balinda Zimmerman

 
The riverbanks are overflowing east of US 23, parallel to Plank Road, flowing to Monroe. Wilson Park is under water in the downtown Milan area. Nature Park is under water west of downtown. Saline has opened the dam and Milan has had to follow suit in order to keep from completely flooding not only land but homes on the west side of town. As a result, the west and east sides of town are flooding and the water is not due to crest until 5pm on Thursday, Feb 22, 2018.
According to Robert Grostick, Milan’s DPW Director, and the Building and Zoning Official, “the dam in Milan has not been opened over twelve inches” in the history of his being with the city. Nobody in the City Hall offices can remember it opened above that height and presently the dam is operating at double that amount, running open at two feet.
Standing inside city hall and looking out the windows one can see churning water and debris, thundering through the dam, flowing under as well as around the iconic iron bridges of Wilson Park. As it thunders past, it is washing away the banks of the river, depositing debris into the yards at the city offices of City Hall, the Police Station, and the Senior Citizens Center.
The baseball fields at Wilson Park are well under two foot of water in some locations and every dugout and building on the fields are flooded. In one area, behind the waste treatment facility at the park, the fence is almost completely under water. Only the uppermost inches of the top rail are visible and the side posts for a few inches.
The playground at Wilson Park is under about six inches of water in most areas but the water is standing on the bottom of the slide and that section is probably closer to a foot deep under the bottom of the slide.  Water has crept up to the new pavilion edges but the pavilions and the basketball court are the only two dry things in Wilson Park aside from the Veteran’s Memorial sitting along Wabash Road.
Dave Conger is the Project Superintendent for Wade Trim, which operates the Milan water treatment center. According to Dave, the center’s well house behind the baseball fields is under water. It was due for service this Friday but that appointment is now cancelled. Dave and his men spent two hours today (Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2018) driving around town to different locations, inspecting the water situation. The treatment center normally runs at 25% capacity and is running at 100% capacity at this point.
On the other side of town Paul and Marilyn Kanitz live along the river where Canfield and Platt meet. They have spent the last 6 years there since selling their farm on Townsend Road. Paul says he had cut down an old Ash tree on the farm and just for kicks he had honed it down and hand milled it into a nice four foot long, five and half to six inch thick piece of wood. When moving into a smaller home along the river he had no place for the piece of wood but did not want to leave it behind. His son-in-law stored it for several years until Paul decided to build a park bench. His son-in-law brought the piece of wood and Paul turned it into a bench to set out along the river so he and Marilyn could sit and watch the water, the ducks and the kids playing in the park.  
The bench was so heavy it could not be carried so it had to e transported via a cart from the house to the riverbank. The bench sat about five inches from two trees so Paul could sit there and tip backwards with his upper body against the tree. Today, Feb 21, 2018 the bench moved but luckily, the two trees stopped it from drifting away with the current that is churning through the yards of the residents along Canfield.
Again, the waters are not due to crest until Feb. 22nd at around 5pm so Paul hopes the bench will be able to hold out until the water recedes and he can retrieve his handmade treasure.
Balinda Zimmerman is owner/operator at Milan Memories by Minna, and a freelance writer for the Milan Eagle News. She can be reached at balindaz [at] comcast [dot] net

Only the pitcher’s mound stands above the water at the baseball fields in Wilson Park

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