Park to benefit from boy's Bar Mitzvah bounty

Sunday, April 5, 2015

In an undertaking perhaps more consistent with an Eagle Scout project, a Greencastle boy who turns 13 next month is proposing a venture that would benefit Big Walnut Sports Park on the city's East Side.

Anyone who has ever played or practiced on the north-south field just west of Edgewood Lake Road at the sports park is aware how frustrating it can be for soccer balls to bounce off into the woods and delay play while someone is to sent off to contend with briers, poison ivy and more while retrieving the soccer ball.

Jakob Foss wants to fix that.

Foss, son of Pedar Foss and Rebecca Schindler of Greencastle, will have his Bar Mitzvah ceremony May 9, he told the Greencastle Park Board at its April meeting. That is the Jewish celebration of a boy turning age 13 and "coming of age," the youngster explained.

And he would like to use the monetary gifts he expects to receive upon "becoming a man" to fund a back-up and barrier net system that would work much in the manner of the netting football stadiums employ behind the goalposts to snare footballs on field goal and extra-point attempts.

"It's like raising a flag," Park Director Rod Weinschenk said in explaining the apparatus to board members.

The plan would be to install it behind the north goal and in front of the treeline and pathway used by walkers and runners, it was noted.

Construction would likely come sometime during the summer prior to the start of high school soccer practice and the resumption of youth soccer league play.

Foss wants to build the project with big nets to corral soccer balls "from flying into the forest," he told the Park Board, adding that in addition to his Bar Mitzvah money he would raise part of the funds necessary for the project.

Installation of posts and netting designed to withstand a 90-mph wind load is estimated at $3,475. A similar set-up designed to withstand a 72-mph wind load can be installed for an estimated $2,815, according to figures provided from the firm Keeper Goals of Butler, Wis.

Weinschenk said the opportune set-up would be the 90-mph netting with installation of the poles that raise and hold the net to be done by the company rather than via volunteers.

The park director suggested the netting be put up for the start of the soccer season and taken down once the season is over to protect it from weathering and potential vandalism.

"It's your project," Weinschenk reminded Foss, adding that he should let the Park Board know if he encounters a funding shortfall. "It's a really neat project."

Board member Tim Trigg made a motion to approve the sports park project. The vote was made unanimous by President Beva Miller and John Hennette. Board member Cathy Merrell was absent.

In other business, the Park Board:

* Authorized the Greencastle Key Club, represented by Mallary Meyer, to stage a carnival at Robe-Ann Park on Saturday, May 16 to benefit future school projects. The carnival event would utilize the park bandshell and shelterhouse No. 1 (on the hill overlooking the bandshell) and involve other GHS clubs and local businesses. Although no exact time was given, it is expected to be an early or mid-afternoon event.

* Gave permission to Thomas Baker, who is building a home at 1030 E. Shadowlawn Ave., in Deerfield Estates, just west of the People Pathway, to remove part of the hill that adjoins his property. Baker also will put in 180 feet of sidewalk across the front of the property, meeting up with the pathway. Park officials have walked the property and see no problem, pending the city attorney's review.

* Approved use of the park property and the pathway around Big Walnut Sports Park again this year for the April 24 South Putnam Girl Scouts' 5K Glow Run. Registration is set for 6 p.m. with the run to commence at dusk.

* Authorized the Summer Enrichment Program for free use of the city pool each afternoon of its June 1-July 3 program as has been allowed in the past. Also 65 slots will be reserved in the first session of learn-to-swim classes at $40 per child for youngsters in the enrichment group.

* Heard that the Splash Park could be open as soon as May 1. Water will be turned on April 15 at the aquatic center, Weinschenk said. Use of the splash park is free and the water is activated by a timer, so it could well open prior to the pool itself (typically Memorial Day weekend).

* Discussed a policy on naming rights for park property and how to handle proposals in the future. Trigg stressed that the ultimate decision stay in the hands of Park Board members rather than decided upon by the City Council. Using a document in place in Denver as a guideline, the board tabled the measure until it can be redone to reflect local input (including a stipulation petitions require 500 signatures for consideration of naming possibilities).

* Tabled a decision on rules at the new dog park until they can be revised to reflect regulations like no one under age 14 being allowed inside dog run areas. The two fenced areas of the dog park at Big Walnut are expected to include a section for small dogs of 25 pounds or less and a bigger area open to all dogs, regardless of size.

In addition to Miller, Trigg, Hennette and Weinschenk, also attending the hour-long session were ex-officio board members Wayne Lewis, representing Greencastle Schools, and David Taylor, representing the Putnam County Public Library.

The Greencastle Park Board will next meet in regular session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7 at City Hall.

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