Work is now underway to develop a five-year plan for Winamac’s park and recreation facilities. Katie Bierrum, who’s putting the comprehensive plan together as part of her coursework at Purdue University, discussed the plan with the Winamac Park Board Thursday. As part of the process, she’s gathering information about the park facilities, and is also asking board members what direction they want to see the facilities take in the future.
To help guide the process, the park board adopted a mission statement for the town’s parks, as proposed by board member Jon Chapman: “The mission of the Winamac Parks and Recreation Department is to enhance the quality of life for our residents and visitors by providing the best possible recreational facilities through effective management of natural, human, and financial resources.”
Board members also began the process of identifying some issues facing the town’s parks, as well as improvements they would like to see. For one thing, board members expressed the desire to promote the use of park facilities for various events and gatherings from spring through fall. Specifically, the pavilion in the Town Park was given as an example of a facility whose use should be encouraged. However, the historic structure is in need of some repairs.
One idea that was carried over from a plan created in the late 1990s is the addition of a formal gateway to the Town Park on its west side near the tennis courts. Pulaski County CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer is assisting with the planning process. He says the park would benefit from the additional signage near downtown. “Right there, you’ve got the Parkway with a trail head at Main Street, and you’ve got this at the other end of Main Street,” Origer says. “You put that there to formalize that entrance, and you’ve kind of got this formalized connector between two aspects of your park going right through the heart of downtown. Even if they have to walk their bikes across the bridge, all of a sudden, you’ve put signage down by the depot, people coming into town from out of town on their bikes, they hit that downtown and they can look down and see this new entrance to the park.”
However, Park Board President Courtney Poor said that the plan should also take into account the maintenance of the park facilities. He noted that the park department currently operates with one full-time employee and one seasonal part-time employee. That requires other town departments to help with lawn mowing and other tasks during the summer. Jon Chapman suggested looking into ways to reduce the amount of maintenance, such as using self-sustaining plants rather than grass where appropriate.
Once the park board members’ desires for the park facilities are formalized, the public will have a chance to offer their input. Residents will have the opportunity to fill out a survey starting next month, and public meetings are planned for September and October. If the process goes according to schedule, the final plan will be presented to the public in November, at which time the Winamac Park Board will decide whether to formally adopt it.
The five-year plan is a necessary step in order for the town to apply for grants, including funding for its swimming pool rebuilding project.