Park master plan would alter Robe-Ann traffic flow

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Robe-Ann Park concept map shows proposed recirculated traffic pattern and added amenities

Recirculated traffic for Robe-Ann Park, developing the Ballard Family Park and making Jaycee Park more accessible and usable are goals of the new five-year master plan for the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department.

The new master plan, unanimously approved by the Board of Park Commissioners at its February meeting, isn’t just for planning purposes but is also essential to the city’s application for grants that are expected to include the request for a Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Up to $200,000 is available with LWCF applications due June 1.

“We were asked to find a way to recirculate the traffic at Robe-Ann Park,” HWC Engineering landscape architect Cory Daly said in presenting the final draft of the master plan to the Park Board.

Proposed plan for development of Ballard Family Park and nearby Calbert Way Park

And his proposal did alter the interior traffic pattern a bit by connecting the driveway north and west of the softball diamond to make a complete loop of the park while moving the southernmost section of roadway to just beyond the outfield fence of the softball field.

In that way, the move proposes to provide more room for development in the aquatic center area and could eventually mean the addition of such amenities as a lazy river concept and a second slide for the pool as well as a nine-hole miniature golf course between the pool and roadway.

The proposed new Robe-Ann layout would eliminate the current Tennessee Street entrance, moving it to the west to access the park on the west side of the skatepark, while providing a parking area along the entry point.

The plan also includes creating a pair of basketball courts at the south end of the park, one east of shelterhouse No. 2 and the other west of the new proposed entrance near the skatepark. The only current basketball courts at Robe-Ann are on the overflow parking blacktop north of the softball field.

The redefined traffic flow would cut off the section currently used for vehicular travel between shelterhouse No. 1 and the first base side of the ball diamond. That would become a north-south pedestrian corridor from about the restroom location to the skatepark site, allowing for safe passage by people coming and going from events like Parkfest in the planned new bandshell.

Daly’s general plans also propose the use of native plantings in several areas of Robe-Ann Park to curtail the need for mowing.

If you go all the way out to 2022, the master plan even lists a proposal at Robe-Ann to construct a shelter on the concrete slab at the old Clearwater property corner (Tennessee and Bloomington streets)

Park Director Rod Weinschenk suggested the proposals represent “long-term investments, ideas to kick around” and something to discuss in greater depth with other city officials.

Daly, who said he has submitted the master plan to IDNR for comments but has not heard anything back yet, also produced a concept drawing for the new Ballard Family Park to be developed on an acre of property just east of the easternmost Walmart store entrance on the south side of State Road 240. His drawing also redefines the Calbert Way Park site, which serves as a trailhead for the People Pathways route between Greencastle and Fillmore on the opposite side of the highway.

Ballard Park, the acquisition of which from the Ballard family could serve as a local match for the LWCF grant, is seen as being master-planned in 2019 and slated for construction of a shelter at an estimated $15,000 in 2020.

Ballard Park is seen as being simply equipped with a bike rack and seating area, becoming more of a rest stop on the trail than a park like Robe-Ann or Jaycee.

Proposed Calbert Way Park improvements include adding restrooms in 2020 while paving the entryway and parking lot (estimated $30,000 expenditure).

Changes proposed at Jaycee Park include renovating the existing indoor community building or demolishing and creating a new community/nature center that could be an indoor rental facility. That is listed among 2019 goals, along with making improvements to allow better fishing access to the pond.

In 2021, the master plan suggests starting design work on camping facilities, both primitive and modern, at Jaycee Park (a $12,000 estimate), along with constructing a shelter restroom facility and parking lot on the east end of the park (estimated $50,000 expenditure).

Proposed improvement to Big Walnut Sports Park include renovating the central restroom facility into men’s and women’s units and creating a central meeting room with the old concessions room as early as this year. Plans for 2019 include $12,000 in playground additions and the beginning of a project to serve the youth soccer field with a picnic shelter, training room and restroom facility.

Meanwhile thinking outside the box was certainly evident in the master plan project list for beyond the year 2022. Those ideas include installing an adventure course at Jaycee Park to go along with the remodeled community building/nature center and campground. Listed as a $120,000 proposition, it could include a ropes course and a zip-line across the pond.

Also in 2022 it is suggested that the city investigate ownership of the quarry property immediately east of Robe-Ann and look to forge a partnership to turn the site into a recreational campus connecting Robe-Ann Park to Greencastle Community School Corporation property.

It also is suggested that a master plan be drafted and an LWCF grant sought for the quarry project to make improvements allowing better fishing access to the pond and constructing accessible pathways to different areas of the pond.

Park Director Weinschenk reminded the group that the master plan includes some big-time dreams.

“Everything listed (in the master plan) is an option to do,” he noted, “it doesn’t mean we’re going to do all of it.”

The new five-year master plan was adopted unanimously by the Park Board on a motion from Tim Trigg and a second by Cathy Merrell.

Trigg was later elected president of the board, succeeding Beva Miller for 2018, in the annual reorganization effort with John Hennette again serving as vice president and Merrell re-elected as secretary.

The Greencastle Park Board will next meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1 at City Hall.

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