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Q. I was reading the article about the Sylvan Island project. It mentioned "Sylvan Slough." I've rode by there on my bike and noticed an old, abandoned factory that is now a park. Any ideas on who owned the factory and what it made? -- Adam

A. We contacted Adam for additional information about his question. The area he is referring to is Sylvan Slough Naturalized Park in Rock Island along the Great River Trail.

According to an article published March 10, 2005, in The Dispatch the park was the former site of the Midway Oil Company. One of the earliest articles about Midway Oil Company, also from The Dispatch, was published Oct. 14, 1920. The headline read, "MIDWAY OIL COMPANY GIVEN STATE CHARTER."

"The Midway Oil company of Rock Island incorporated today to deal in gasoline and other oil products at 201 forty-third street, Rock Island. Capital stock is $25,000. Incorporators are G. H. Falder, G. V. Stromberg and J. J. Grotegut, all of Rock Island," the article said.

The 2005 article also said, "Buildings have been razed and pavement cleared at the former Midway Oil property in the Sylvan Slough area. Before the site can be used as a park, contaminated soil must be removed or cleaned. Usually the soil is removed and taken to a landfill, said Tom Ayers, city inspector."

Instead the city is using bioremediation to clean the soil and keep it on site, the article said. EnviroNET of Davenport won the contract to do the work. "The soil has mostly hydro-carbon-based contamination from blended oils and fuels once stored there.

"Over time, microbes in the soil digest the contaminants, said Fred Lawrence, a hydro geologist with EnviroNET. That process can take 50 to 60 years or more and may never reach a level acceptable to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"To speed up the process and remove all contaminants, EnviroNET will build a compost pile, placing plastic on the ground and putting wood chips on top of it. Then, a mixture of equal parts of horse manure, wood chips and contaminated soil is layered and covered with black plastic, Mr. Lawrence said."

"The piles will be about 100 feet and 8 feet tall. Warmth from the compost and the oxygen added through vents speeds the microbes' digestion. Ms. (Molly) Newell expects it will take about six months to completely clean the soil."

To read more about Sylvan Slough Naturalized Park or Midway Oil Company visit

Q. Davenport appears to no longer require dogs to be leashed on walks in public parks. Is this a new, relaxed policy? – Bill, Bettendorf

A. Scott Hock, Davenport parks and recreation director, said, "Thank you for asking about our dog or other domestic animal requirement that pets be on a leash when in our park system (City Code 12.72.080). We do have two off leash dog park areas, one in Centennial Park along the Mississippi and a second one on Marquette Street just north of Kimberly Road, where dogs are permitted to be off leash within the fenced area. Other than these two locations, we do ask that pet owners keep their pets on a leash for the health and safety of all of our park users."

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.