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LEETONIA Vandalism plagues facilities at Cherry Valley public park



Published: Wed, November 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Vandalism investigations have been ongoing, the chief said.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LEETONIA -- Despite increased patrols, vandalism at Cherry Valley Coke Ovens Park continues to be a problem for police.

Since volunteers began renovating the park in the late 1980s, vandals have broken fencing and park benches and trash cans.

The restroom pavilion has been a favorite target and, over the weekend, someone popped out the pavilion's plastic windows, broke door handles and knocked a toilet off its foundation.

The restroom and other improvements were added in the past five years.

"What's the thrill in vandalizing a restroom?" said John Soldano, village police chief.

He said police want to catch the vandals in the act, which is a difficult task in the wooded area.

"They see the cruisers before we see them," Soldano added.

Some history: The park is the site of the former Cherry Valley Iron & amp; Coal Co., which, according to historical society records, reached its peak operation in 1900 producing 70,000 tons of pig iron annually. The company had purchased the bankrupt Leetonia Iron & amp; Coal Co. in 1873.

The site was abandoned in the 1930s after steel production and the Great Depression forced the company out of business. The site was donated to the village for a park in 1962.

Over time, the area became swampy and overgrown, but concerned citizens secured grants and volunteer labor to reclaim it.

In recent years, students in Dr. John White's archaeology classes at Youngstown State University have unearthed the foundations of the former iron works buildings and found clay pipes, bits of pottery and other artifacts from the once-thriving industrial site.

tullis@vindy.com




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