Improvements to existing park land on Greencastle's East Side could be slow in coming as city park officials focus their attention on other projects this summer.
Earlier this year members of the city park board celebrated a $129,000 grant received from the state Department of Natural Resources to be used for improvements to Big Walnut Sports Park, a portion of which sports park officials have agreed to give to the city.
Park board members are continuing to move through the process of acquiring ownership of the southeastern third of the sports park which they want to enhance with walking trails, a Frisbee golf course, full-service restrooms, playing fields and potentially a children's playground.
Following this week's meeting of the city park board, Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk explained that the land must be appraised, or given a monetary value, before the deed transfer can be completed, potentially in July.
Even if the land is acquired in this summer, Weinschenk said it could be months before anything is done at the site.
Arrangements have been made for students from Area 30 Career Center to help install walking trails at the park, but with classes about to dismiss for the summer, it will be at least next fall before anything gets done.
This week park board members were told that the DNR grant had been received, approved and signed and is ready to be used for the project. It is an 80/20 grant, meaning the city will be reimbursed for 80 percent of the cost it incurs for the project.
Originally park board members drafted a wish list for the project with estimated cost of $200,000, however, they only received $129,000 from the DNR.
Weinschenk said the board will have to consider how to reduce costs or eliminate something from the project wish list altogether. Nothing has been decided at this point.
In other business, the board learned this week that there is renewed hope for a proposed segment of the city's People Pathways fitness trail system that was put on hold due to a lack of funding.
Representing the People Pathways group, Greencastle resident Joy Marley said she recently learned of another state grant, called Safe Routes to School Program, that could completely cover the cost of constructing the trail from Shadowlawn Avenue to Fawn View Drive, or generally the area around Deer Meadow School.
That segment of pathway had to be omitted from the greater Albin Pond link (Phase III) in order to save costs. The entire trail is set to begin at Tzouanakis Intermediate School and move eastward along Albin Pond Road before cutting south to Deer Meadow and connecting, down the line, with Greencastle High School and Middle School.
Weinschenk told the board this week that the various pieces of property needed for the trail have yet to be purchased by the city. The city acquired a state grant to fund a large chunk of the construction of the Albin Pond Trail several years ago.
The park board also heard a report from local residents hoping to transform the small area on the east side of City Hall into a memorial park for their friend, the late Mary Field. Members of a committee provided the park board with a cost estimate of $37,000 for constructing a walk path, seating area and planting beds. They said they were seeking donations from the community.
The Park Board regularly meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at city hall. The meetings are open to the public.