Park Board Still Working Hard to Improve Town Parks
This letter is in response to the Letter to the Editor which appeared in the August 11th edition of The Gazette. As members of the current New Carlisle Park Board, we have worked hard to provide beautiful parks that the community can be proud of.
The Park Board depends on money allocated annually from the New Carlisle Town Council. We have funds ear-marked for park salary, social security, group insurance, summer programs, gasoline for mowing, utilities, repairs, etc.
Typically we have money for parks improvements, equipment and outlays. This year no money was budgeted to the Park Department for improvements, equipment or capital outlays. It is our responsibility to decide how our budget is spent. With NO money for improvements or projects we are limited.
You specifically asked about the Splash Pad. Each and every one of us on the Park Board are in favor of splash pad in New Carlisle. We have discussed it for years and are working to find an appropriate location as well as find ways to pay for it. We want the kids to be able to walk or ride their bikes to their splash pad in a secure location. We must consider safety and the impacts to neighbors as well as sufficient parking.
Some have suggested Bourissa Hills. It is secluded with little parking and no water, sewer or electricity at this time. It is unlighted and open. It is the only open green space left in town which many people in our surveys mentioned they wanted to see left that way.
One concern among many is who will pay for the gallons and gallons of water needed each summer? Many residents of New Carlisle are already struggling with high utility bills, are we prepared to pay more to provide for water at the Splash Pad? There are also the issues of security, sanitation, liability and maintenance which must be addressed.
The Master Plan was written so that we are aware of the community’s wishes for our parks and also to apply for grants.
Most, if not all grants are for a specific project and none that we know of have been available for a splash pad at this time. Many of these grants require that the Town match funds for the grant.
When the park board receives funds in our budget for projects the state requires that we spend the money within that financial year and no money can be carried forward. Therefore, the idea of saving for a larger project is eliminated.
It was mentioned in the letter that we had not achieved any of the goals outlined in the Master Plan. That is not true. One of our goals was met last year with the addition of ADA Compliant Playground equipment.
We are planning to complete one more of our goals before the end of the year by erecting Gateway Entrance signs at Memorial Park. We have been working diligently with a sign crafter and are excited and proud of our choice. The signs will be placed at the two entrances at Memorial Park and will help to identify the park to visitors.
The money for these signs comes from a gift fund established to receive donations to the park through the purchase of commemorative bricks in front of the gazebo or other cash gifts to the park.
So if you think we are “not motivated” or “moving forward” please be assured we work hard and are excited to achieve improvements to our parks.
All of the park board members spend many hours outside our monthly meetings to help with projects. Several years ago we all helped with transplanting bushes around the gazebo and last year we were all out in the cold rainy weather to assist in setting up the new playground equipment.
Many of us worked on the Master Plan for hours without compensation saving the Town thousands of dollars in lieu of hiring consultants. We have all taken road trips to visit Splash pads and have met with contractors to make the gazebo handicap accessible. Don’t forget we are all volunteers. With the lack of funds from the Town we do what we can.
We hear many compliments for our parks. The playground equipment at Memorial Park where dozens of children play daily is a source of pride to the town.
The lovely rolling hills at Bourissa Hills is inviting for sledding in the winter and also has a mountain bike trail and disc golf course, both of which were accomplished within the past five years and draw the older kids and adults. These attractions not only bring people from New Carlisle but the surrounding areas. The Summer Park Program attracted 40 children at one of its sessions. The Concerts in the Park are well attended and provide entertainment for the adults. These programs all come out of the park budget.
The door is definitely NOT closed on a future plash pad, restrooms or additional park land.
Please feel free to attend our Park Board Meetings on the last Wednesday of each month at 5:30.
Don’t depend upon social media to provide you with the most up to date and correct information regarding your town.
Nancy Taplin, Park Board President Mary Ann Holston, Vice President Malarie Pearce, Secretary Phil Rafalski, John Gelow, Members