Park officials seal deal for Clearwaters land

Friday, August 4, 2006

Greencastle officials were expected to complete the purchase of additional property next to Robe-Ann Park this week, Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk said.

Members of the Greencastle Park Board met this week and gave Weinschenk permission to go ahead with the signing of closing papers on Thursday, making the purchase official.

The parcel, known as the Clearwaters property, was home to a garden store for many years. Though relatively small in size, it has been the desire of park officials for a long time because of it proximity to the park.

However environmental issues, stemming from concerns that the site was once used as a gas station, have slowed the process.

Last month, the city engineer announced the city would be responsible for any clean-up that may be required by the state's environmental agency should remains of petroleum be found in the soil.

At this week's park board meeting, member Leslie Hanson said she was surprised to learn the city would have to pay for the potential clean-up.

She and other board members thought the city had obtained grant money to pay for the project, when actually the money only paid for the first of a three-phase environmental study which does not include clean-up.

City Engineer Glen Morrow told the City Council in July he is aware of some cities paying thousands of dollars to clean up environmental sites, a reason for concern expressed by some council members.

Potential problems aside, Weinschenk told the park board this week plans are to eventually demolish the building and turn the area into green space for the park. But first he said he would like to hold a city auction to see if there is any public interest in purchasing the greenhouses that stand on the property.

Long-term plans, should the parks department decide to raze the building, may include a new shelter house on the site and planting of new trees.

In other business, the park board:

-- Learned that organizers of People Pathways have applied for a Safe Routes to School grant to pay for a portion of the Albin Pond pathway connecting Deer Meadow Primary School with Greencastle High School and Middle School. The group will find out in October if it received the grant.

-- Learned that new appraisals have been ordered for property needed to purchase for the Albin Pond segment of People Pathways. The city will need to purchase certain rights-of-way necessary for the walking trail that will begin at Tzouanakis Intermediate and head east on Albin Pond Road.

-- Learned that Ivy Tech is still making plans to construct a new Greencastle campus at Rokicki Park, located on the south side of Veterans Memorial Highway across from the Greencastle Middle School. Weinschenk said he was told the state legislature will release money for the project this fall.

-- Learned that People Pathways officials will conduct a meeting at noon Aug. 17 to talk with local companies about promoting use of the walking trails among their employees.

-- Learned that adult women's softball has been completed for the year with the Magic Circle team winning. Men's softball will be wrapping up in a couple of weeks, to be followed by the beginning of the co-ed season.

-- Voted to approve changing fees for the Mommy and Me Program. Fees for one child are $30 dollars. The board voted to lower fees to $15 for each additional child enrolled in the program in the same family.

-- Learned that tennis lessons and the SPARK program have wrapped up for the season.

The Greencastle Park Board meets at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at city hall.

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