Parks Five-Year Plan Completed

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana www.thecouriertimes.com

Parks five-year plan completed

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 6:00 am

Members of the New Castle Parks Board have approved a five-year master plan, setting the stage for planned improvements and opening the door for potential grants.

Work on the plan began in August and the board officially endorsed it Monday. It was drafted with assistance from Eric Frey of Administrative Resources Association, who was pleased the effort was completely so quickly.

“It’s been a wonderful collaboration and the board has done a great job. Community input has been wonderful. All these things have come together because of hard work,” Frey said.

The plan will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. If DNR officials approve it, the city will be eligible for a host of grant opportunities for which it otherwise would not have qualified.

“We’ll use this as a tool to make sure when we go after grants that we identify the comprehensive community planning efforts that were a piece of that,” Frey said. “Potential funders will look at that and recognize the board has done all of this research and documentation to justify the needs, which tends to make an application much more competitive. This is a tool not just for grant resources but also for a measuring stick as to where the community is as it relates to its parks plan.”

Parks board president Patty Broyles also was pleased this step in improving city parks has been completed.

“This is huge for this community,” she said. “This community needs and deserves to have great parks and to accomplish that you have to have an organized plan. Thanks to Mayor York for stepping up and saying that first we have to have a plan and that then we’re going to set it in motion. Now, we are setting it in motion.”

The plan includes a list of actions scheduled to take place each of the next five years. Projects it details for 2016 include creation of a Parks Foundation; creation of a skate park; repair or replacement of the Memorial Wall in Baker Park; security upgrades at Baker and Osborne parks; removal and/or replacement of outdoor grills when applicable; parking improvements at Baker and Osborne parks, especially around sports facilities in the parks; and removal of old playground equipment where applicable.

Some of those tasks have already been completed or are underway. There is now a “pass-through” and an “endowed” account set up at the Henry County Community Foundation for donations of money to the parks system. It has been decided to replace the crumbling Memorial Wall, and removal of damaged or broken grills and equipment has begun. The board agreed other items on the action list will be addressed when the weather is more favorable and as long as funds are available.

Mayor York, who has been asking the board to draft a long-range plan for the past couple of years, expressed his thoughts on having reached this point.

“I have to say this is very exciting,” the mayor said. “This gives me goosebumps. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction, like we’re moving forward and I really appreciate your efforts and dedication in getting us this far. Thank you all very much.”

Broyles encourages anyone wishing to assist the board by making a monetary contribution to donate to either the pass-through or endowed fund at the Henry County Community Foundation.

The board also continues to sell wire baskets used at the original Baker Park swimming pool.

The baskets are priced at $25 each or two for $40. They come with a small card that contains a brief recap of their history and a photo of the old pool house. They are available for purchase at Nantz Photography, 206 S. 14th St., New Castle, during normal business hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For more information, call 765-521-8888. Proceeds from their sale will benefit future park projects and improvements.