Parks Board Amends Funding Plan

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Parks board amends funding plan

Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016 6:00 am

The New Castle Parks Board asked for $335,248 in food and beverage tax money to pay for restroom upgrades and improved video surveillance in Baker Park as well as funding to help pay for construction of a new skatepark. The Henry County Council awarded $275,000, or 82 percent, of the requested total.

Because of the shortfall in anticipated funding, the parks board has made changes to its approach in getting the three previously mentioned projects completed.

“We have security in Baker Park right now, we have ASI. We are just upgrading it and the city has stepped up. The mayor said the city will be taking care of those upgrades,” parks board president Patty Broyles said following Tuesday’s meeting of the group. “The same with the restrooms. The mayor has indicated the city will be taking care of those upgrades as well.”

Broyles noted that other than in-kind contributions to the planned security upgrades and improvements to the restrooms in Baker Park, which will make them handicap accessible, the city didn’t have any money dedicated to the two improvement efforts.

With the city assuming financial responsibility for those two projects, Broyles said the entire $275,000 in food and beverage tax funds can be used to build a state-of-the-art skatepark.

“We had to give (the Capital Projects Management Committee) a plan when we asked for funding, including if we didn’t get all of the money how we were going to do this. So, now we’re doing one restroom first, and I told the committee we might only be able to do security upgrades to the east side or the west side of the park,” Broyles said.

She said another option, given the funding shortfall, was to decrease the size and scope of the planned skatepark. The parks board chose not to go that route and Broyles explained why.

“When you start scaling it back you take away some of the economic development and tourism benefits, and that is not our plan. Our plan is to bring people into New Castle, and if you start taking away from the skatepark you’re not going to get people to visit it,” Broyles said.

Mayor Greg York said the taxpayers won’t be footing the entire bill for the restroom and security upgrades.

“Taking care of those two things is part of our in-kind match, and I have some people who are going to donate some private money to that also. ... We’re going to pay for those improvements using a combination of private donations and city funds,” York said.

The mayor said video cameras currently cover parts of Baker Park, the nearby basketball courts and part of South Mound Cemetery. He said the upgrades will expand the coverage area and bring all of the security systems together and make it easier to manage.

“It will combine all of them so we can keep an eye on Baker Park, Osborne Park, the basketball courts, the skatepark, the pickleball courts and South Mound Cemetery under one security system,” York said.

He also said he supports the board’s decision to dedicate all of the food and beverage tax funds to construction of a skatepark, which he has described in the past as an exciting opportunity to do something positive for the youth of the community.