Park Board looks at 2016 achievements with eye to future
While 2016 may have been the Year of the Monkey on the Chinese calendar and the year of celebrity deaths in the real world, it was apparently the Year of Accomplishment for the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department.
A number of projects were completed to enhance recreational opportunities within the city park system, including the addition of a dog park at Big Walnut Sports Park, renovation of tennis courts and the addition of pickleball courts at Robe-Ann Park and completion of an outdoor basketball court at Big Walnut in memory of Keith Carr.
The Greencastle Park Board reviewed some of the accomplishments of 2016 at its January meeting recently.
“Last year paid dividends,” Park Director Rod Weinschenk summarized, “and I think 2017 is going to be even busier.”
Park Board members agreed.
For example, the new dog park, located at the southwest corner of Big Walnut Sports Park, “is a hidden treasure,” Park Board President Beva Miller said.
“People who are using it are very happy with it,” she assured.
The same can be said of the new basketball court created there as a result of a project spearheaded by the group A Kinetic Change that included McKenzie, Julie and Mark Carr. The Carrs oversaw the construction of the basketball court last spring in honor of their brother and son.
Meanwhile, Robe-Ann tennis and pickleball facilities were actually begun in 2015 but were completed last spring and ready in time for a big test run by inquisitive pickleball players the morning of July 4.
The pickleball courts have already become a hit with residents of the Miller Asbury Apartments in the old Miller School building adjacent to Robe-Ann, Park Director Weinschenk has reported.
In addition, work was begun on reconfiguring the old Anderson Street entrance that has long been closed to vehicular traffic. As part of a waterline repair project, the roadway into the park off Anderson Street was narrowed and turned to grass for ease of care.
The parking area just outside the gates still needs to be addressed with ADA and short-term parking spaces designated there. They are not meant to provide parking for the surrounding neighborhood, Weinschenk stressed.
The Robe-Ann waterline project, meanwhile, has solved a longstanding problem of low water pressure in the park, the park director noted.
“We have pressure now you wouldn’t believe,” Weinschenk said.
“When investigating the water pressure problem, we found that the waterline was probably plugged,” he added. “The Water Department tapped a new two-inch line off the main instead of the two one-inch lines and installed a new valve and meter box at the entrance off Anderson Street. We now have a new two-inch service line from there to the restroom facility completed out by Spiker Excavating.”
Planned in 2016 and still to come are playground equipment and signage for the new Micayla Cancilla Park (Maple Berry Park East).
“The playground is ordered and we are awaiting delivery for a spring installation,” Weinschenk reported, adding that for signage, the department is working with Otto’s Landscaping from Greenwood for the main park placard and a matching Maple Berry Park sign. Both will be similar to Mary Rogers Field Park sign on the site just east of City Hall.
Meanwhile, a couple of first-time events showed promise in 2016.
In June, the Greencastle Aquatics Center hosted its first swim meet since the new city pool was constructed in 1993-94.
The Putnam County Swim Team Griffins hosted approximately 70 swimmers from teams representing Crawfordsville and Terre Haute.
Last March, a disc golf tournament at Big Walnut Sports Park drew 65 throwers to Greencastle on the Saturday of Easter weekend as the Crossroads Disc Golf Club’s final event of its winter series at BWSP disc golf course.
Among other 2016 developments:
-- “We planted a lot of trees,” Weinschenk said. Those included 17 new trees in Robe-Ann and Big Walnut Sports parks in observance of Earth and Arbor Day. Others were planted throughout the year over the parks system.
-- A dozen trees were removed from Robe-Ann Park. Ten ash trees hit by the emerald ash bore, one hollow catalpa tree, and a dead pine tree located along Bloomington Street across from Charlie’s.
-- Shelterhouse No. 5 was renovated after storm/high wind damage in October. Criss and Hutcheson also constructed an anchor box for the electrical panel, since the “Y” braces were added to help strengthen the structure, while 3 Kings Electric repaired the electrical within the shelter.
-- Christmas decorations were added to the Robe-Ann Park inflatables and donations from years past, including a fourth dinosaur, three little zoo creatures and a gingerbread couple greeting visitors on the appropriate sides of the central restroom.
“We aren’t Danville but we hope you drove through the park and enjoyed the lights and decorations,” Weinschenk said.
Despite the accomplishments of 2016, the Greencastle Park Department is looking ahead at 2017 and beyond.
“We’re still looking for that program that will bring a thousand people in here,” Weinschenk said, meaning something other than the traditional Fourth of July fireworks.
He said he hopes to talk to other parks and recreation experts about that later this month when he attends the annual Indiana Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) Conference.
The next Park Board meeting is set for Tuesday, Feb. 2 at City Hall, beginning 30 minutes early at 7 p.m. to facilitate a planning retreat by the board after its regular session.