Interim efforts working well so far for Keeney, Park Dept.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

So far, so good for the interim director situation in the Greencastle Parks Department.

Reviews were great at the July Park Board meeting for interim Park Director Jason Keeney, who has shouldered those duties in addition to being Forest Hill Cemetery superintendent, the past couple of weeks since the resignation and departure of Greg Ruark from the park position.

It was like the Jason Keeney mutual admiration society had convened for the July Park Board meeting. Keeney’s interim status with the park will continue at least through July before any fulltime remedy is addressed, Mayor Lynda Dunbar told the Banner Graphic.

Jason Keeney

Besides being the point man for the Celebrate 4 Fourth of July events and fireworks, Keeney has been active in other aspects of park supervision as well. In preparing Big Walnut Sports Park for the July 4 events, he cleaned and organized the barn out there, shifting mowers and other equipment around and even putting down a new floor and expelling an invasive groundhog that had been living there.

He took some of his cemetery workers out to Big Walnut where they removed the rock from around the basketball court signage, later using it as part of the flooring for the barn. Pieces of rock from there have twice been used to bust out glass backboards donated by A Kinetic Change and the Mark and Julie Carr family in honor of their late son Keith.

Keeney and company also installed a new backboard to replace the one busted out last October. Julie Carr, who had been helping with the rock removal, reportedly asked when the backboard might be put back up, only to turn around and see it in place as Keeney responded by pointing to the new board.

Taking part in the United Way of Central Indiana All IN Day recently, Xander Stone and Neysa Meyer rake the crushed shells that will comprise the new bocce ball court at Robe-Ann Park. The Greencastle Park Board learned recently that the court will need striping as well as equipment before it is operational.

In the absence of Park Assistant Director Chrysta Snellenberger, who has been sidelined for the pool season by knee surgery, Keeney also spent some time at the aquatic center, familiarizing himself with the staff, advising that his goal was to help them, not reprimand them. He told the Park Board that the top three assistant pool managers/lifeguards have since committed to return next summer.

“Jason’s been great,” Park Recreation Director Ashley Crady interjected.

The good news didn’t end at Big Walnut and Robe-Ann parks. Keeney reported on the recent slingshot competition at Jaycee Park, calling it a major event that drew “people from way out of state,” including Texas, Arkansas and Richmond, Va., to name a few places.

Organizers of the slingshot event are interested in a return engagement at Jaycee Park, Keeney said.

Also at Jaycee Park, a security light that had reportedly been out for eight months was back in use after Keeney simply called a contact at Duke Energy, and the electric company got it fixed.

He also reported making an inspection of the old community building out there, which had reportedly been considered in terrible shape and on the eve of destruction.

“We had a major rain on Sunday and the roof didn’t leak,” Keeney said, reporting the good news. “It needs some gutters and windows and an overhead door but I foresee it being something we can use.”

Mayor Dunbar agreed.

“We have a plan for it,” she offered. “It’s not that bad. It’s something we can use, and not just for storage.”

With board members saying the pond at Jaycee Park, recently treated for algae, “looks gorgeous now,” Keeney had ideas there too.

After watching a fisherman catch a tiny, four-inch bluegill during the slingshot activity, he proposed the need for more fish habitats to encourage growth of bass and bluegill and a possible restocking of the lake in the future.

Keeney suggested that some of the real Christmas trees that are collected by the Street Department each January can be dropped in the pond to easily create those fish habitats.

It’s a project, he said, the city might be able to partner with other organizations to undertake.

“Lynda (Mayor Dunbar) keeps telling me we can’t build Rome in one day,” Keeney smiled, suggesting he would give it two weeks.

“We have wonderful facilities,” the interim director noted, “we’re so lucky in Greencastle. I’m still learning. I know the cemetery really well. We’ll figure it out.”

During the mayor’s report to the board, she noted discussions with members of the Ballard family regarding the 1.2-acre Walter and Eleanor Ballard Family Park off State Road 240 just east of the Greencastle Walmart store. Her desire is to make it similar to the Mary Field Park adjacent to City Hall with a patio and picnic tables.

The mayor said she is gathering some information and quotes on the materials needed.

Signage also needs to be restored to the site. It is believed the sign was taken down when the YMCA construction work began.

Fitting with the evening, Keeney solved the mystery, leaving the room to rummage around the adjacent garage before returning with a sign to show the board.

“Look at Jason,” the mayor remarked, as moments later he was seated at his desk, using his computer to create a model of framing and how the sign needs to be displayed.

In other business, the Park Board:

• Approved a $59,459 UV system for the aquatic center that will be installed by Spear Corp. during the filtering system and surge tank project following the closing of the pool for the season. Sept. 9 is the anticipated starting date. The system can save up to 30 percent of chemical costs, Mayor Dunbar said, noting that she has talked to several mayors whose facilities have a UV system and rarely get their pool shut down. “We get shut down almost every year,” Dunbar said, adding that sometimes it can take a week to get back on track. Cost of the UV system, which is seen as lasting 15, 20 or 30 years, brings the pool project total to $657,931. Plans are to go out for financing with three years of payments coming out of EDIT plan funding, the mayor said.

• Was told to expect about $20,000 in change orders on Phase II of the Robe-Ann Park reconstruction project, including payment for additional rock that is expected to make the park roadway last longer. Once blacktop is applied, it will need two weeks to cure before vehicles can drive on it. That means it won’t reopen to traffic this week and maybe not next week either.

• Learned that members will be getting a second opinion on the status of the Emerald Palace this week after local contractor Bill Mentgen inspects the playground facility. “We want to keep it moving along,” the mayor said, noting that once the park construction is done, “people will want to play on it.”

• Heard that the bocce ball court adjacent to the park office is not completely finished and will still need striping. The Park Department also needs to order balls and other equipment and determine how those supplies will be checked out by users.

• Heard that with a new mural planned for Tony Criss’ building near Mapleberry Park in the South End, the muralists plan to add some sports-themed figures, basketballs and more to the basketball court there. The Park Board will get to approve the artwork before it is done.

Board President Cathy Merrell was joined by members Tim Trigg, Doug Hutchison and Scott Hamilton and City Attorney Laurie Hardwick for the 90-minute meeting at the park office.

The next meeting of the Greencastle Park Board is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.

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  • Jason is great at anything he does. I am glad that he is involved with the park’s temporarily! He is a great organizer and easy to get along with.

    Thank you Jason for all you are doing!

    -- Posted by chicken on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 9:38 PM
  • Nice work Jason! Greencastle is lucky to have you!

    -- Posted by djc2020 on Thu, Jul 11, 2024, at 1:33 PM
  • I hope he stays on both jobs. Give him a raise and a good assistant, and things will be better than fine.

    -- Posted by Bob Fensterheim on Thu, Jul 11, 2024, at 3:32 PM
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