The Winamac Park Board has begun the process of putting together a five-year comprehensive plan for the town’s park and recreation facilities. The plan is required before the town is able to take advantage of some of the additional grant funding opportunities that come with having a park board.
Rather than hire a company to create the plan, the park board has decided to enlist the help of a local college student, in an effort to save on costs. Star City resident Katie Bierrum approached the park board Thursday about putting together the five-year plan as part of her coursework at Purdue, where she’s majoring in Landscape Architecture. “Kind of the general process we’d go through is getting public input, doing site studies of what’s there, what needs to be there, any climate conditions, trees that are bad, existing water lines, just holistically, everything – and then just getting community feedback,” she said.
Bierrum says she could either complete the plan as one of her senior-year capstone projects, or it could be given to a class to complete as a group project. She says that while students are able to create the plan itself, they would not be able to create documents for specific construction work.
Board member Jon Chapman believes Winamac will benefit from the arrangement. “I like the fact that you’re local. In the years I’ve been around town, there’s been different studies done by, I’m sure, very good organizations, but they had no local feel for the community,” Chapman said. “You would, which I think would make whatever you come up with more useful for everybody.”
Winamac already has a bit of a starting point when it comes to a plan for their park and recreation system. Ball State completed such a plan for the town in the late 1990s, in anticipation of the establishment of a park board. However, that didn’t happen until earlier this year.
Other community members are also offering their expertise to help Winamac’s park board maximize its grant opportunities. Board president Courtney Poor says Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer has been particularly enthusiastic about the new board, especially when it comes to getting funding for the town’s swimming pool rebuilding project, “He said, ‘This board was one of my dreams, to be able to have something like this so that we could apply for grants.’ And he said, unequivocally, that he would be willing to help with this. As a matter of fact, he starts rattling off all this data, he gets on his computer and said, “Well this is going to be a DNR grant, I almost guarantee it because it’s for a pool.’ And he’s saying, ‘Well, let’s see. It says here they have 52 pages of guidelines that you’ll have to follow, of which,’ he said, ‘I can sift through that and we can simplify that pretty quickly,'” Poor noted that Origer had previously gotten grant funding for a town pool during his time with the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission.
The park board voted to begin the process of working with Bierrum and Origer, unanimously.