To city leaders, the Huntley Bowl is an underused city park that is beginning to cost taxpayers too much money to maintain. Closing it may be the best answer, some Worthington City Council members said last week.

To city leaders, the Huntley Bowl is an underused city park that is beginning to cost taxpayers too much money to maintain. Closing it may be the best answer, some Worthington City Council members said last week.

But that idea tears at the heart of Lance Bollens, who sees the park as a haven away from the world and the place that holds memories of his late fiancée, Jenilea Cattrell.

In fact, Bollens has contacted the city about placing a memorial for Cattrell at the Huntley Bowl, a place where she played as a child, first noticed Bollens as he jogged around the edge of the park, and in her later days sat beneath the trees painting or simply contemplating life.

Cattrell, 26, died June 9 over an overdose of drugs. She suffered from multiple medical challenges that required that she take many medications. Like in many cases, no one will ever know if her death was an accident or suicide.

Huntley Bowl had been a special place that she visited with her father as a child. They lived in Devonshire, just east of the park, and liked to fly kites and play at the nearby park.

She graduated from Worthington Christian High School. She continued to visit the park as a teenager.

As her love of art grew, she began bringing her paints or chalk to create works of art. Often, they depicted the solitude and beauty of the trees and hillsides of the Huntley Bowl.

She knew every vista. If a tree had changed or something moved, she would immediately paint it the way she remembered, Bollens said.

Last Sunday, he sat at a picnic table where they often shared their meals. The park was empty and the quiet was interrupted only by an occasional passing train. The couple knew the train schedules by heart.

"This was her solitude," he said. "Most of the time it was like this."

Bollens, 38, has been running around the outside of the playing field and up and down the concrete steps since he was in high school at DeSales. He grew up in Forest Park.

"I would see her coming and going, but I didn't really pay any attention," he said.

Then one day about eight years ago, Cattrell waited on him when she was a pharmacy technician at Big Bear. She introduced herself, saying she remembered him from the park.

Cattrell went on to study at Columbus State College and the Columbus College of Art and Design, and she had a good job at the Gap.

But she had many losses in recent life, including the death of her mother, and she suffered from depression and bipolar disease, Bollens said. Her time at the Huntley Bowl became even more valued.

"If you couldn't find her, this is where she would be," he said.

As a couple, they spent hours at Huntley Bowl, painting, talking, and just being away from the world. Just two days before her death, they spent an entire day there.

He still visits the park, alone. Her memories are there, and that's where he can go to remember and to find his way back into the world.

Bollens said he understands the concerns of city council, but believes that $21,000 to remove two sets of crumbling stairs is not too much. Since there is little at the park other than a set of goals for pick-up soccer games, upkeep probably is not much, compared to other parks, he said.

And Huntley Bowl offers something that other parks don't -- a place to sit quietly. For some, a place to mourn.

"I saw the newspaper article about the park," Bollens said. "Until then, I thought I was over the crying."

cbrooks@thisweeknews.com