Progress on the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center project was celebrated Friday.
A groundbreaking marking the start of Phase 2A of the project was attended by about 80 people. State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) said the center will honor the courage of runaway slaves and those who helped them in Oberlin.
Ramos said celebrating the history was particularly important after those who support Confederate Flag sales at the Lorain County Fair said the flag was part of the county’s heritage.
Oberlin’s abolitionist history and participation in the Underground Railroad is the real heritage of the county and Ohio, he said.
“It’s important for history, for the reality of history, for people to know that the Underground Railroad didn’t just drop people off across the Ohio River and then everything was just wine and roses,” said Ramos, who helped obtain $200,000 in state taxpayer money for the project. “It was trouble. It was tough and the Underground Railroad needed to exist to get folks from the river to real freedom either here or farther north in Canada.”
George Abram, Oberlin Underground Railroad Center Implementation Team chairman, said the idea for the project came in 1999. He thanked city and county official and residents who’ve supported the effort.
“Instead of breaking bread together, let’s break ground together and continue our steady progress,” he said.
The third and final phase is to bring interactive programming inside the center. Sal Talarico, acting city manager, said after the ceremony that it could cost between $2 million and $3 million, although architectural plans haven’t been drafted.
He said fundraising efforts haven’t begun and there is no timeline for completion of the project. Talarico said he hopes completion of Phase 2A and 2B will create momentum for project completion.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), Oberlin city council president Ronnie Rimbert, acting city manager Sal Talarico, public works director Jeff Baumann, Oberlin Underground Railroad Committee Implementation Team chairman George Abram, and councilwoman Sharon Pearson.