WARSAW — Every five years, the Warsaw Department of Parks and Recreation prepares a master plan for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The plan serves as a guide, a budgeting tool and a means of acquiring grant funding. “Not everything will be accomplished in five years,” said Larry Plummer, superintendent, “Some dreams may not get started, but if they never begin they can never be finished. Warsaw is a community with vision, dreams and commitment.”
The 2017-2021 master plan was created using data collected from surveys as well as input from the parks board and city administrators at public meetings. An online survey administered by surveymonkey.com and overseen by Pat Brown of SiteScapes Inc. of Mishawaka, acquired more public input than ever before, and found, overall, “people are happy” with the city’s parks, Plummer said. Nevertheless, there is much to be done.
Population growth is a central concern of the master plan. Since 1990, the city’s population has grown from 10,968 to 14,179. The plan states, “In such a time of growth, careful recreational planning and resource management becomes critical to successful recreational programming.” Maintaining the quality of current facilities, green spaces and water quality will also always be a challenge. “We’ve got to do the city’s part to keep the lakes in great condition,” Plummer emphasized.
Luckily, partnerships with the stormwater division of the wastewater department and Grace College’s Center for Lakes and Streams have provided a wealth of ideas and the expertise to implement them. Shoreline stabilization is one example.
“Shoreline stabilization has needed to be done for years,” stated Plummer. Twenty to 25 feet of banks around Warsaw’s lakes have been lost to erosion, valuable land the parks could put to use. Coir logs, rolls of densely packed fibers, have already been placed on the banks of Pike Lake in Lucerne Park. The second phase of the project, the planting of flowers, grasses and shrubs further up the bank will be completed this spring. An education tour of the area is also planned to bring more awareness to the problem of erosion. The funding for this $20,000 project comes from the stormwater budget, illustrative of how the parks department is partnering with other city entities to reduce its impact on taxpayers, one of the stated goals of the master plan.
A 10 year preventative maintenance program is another component of the plan Plummer hopes will save taxpayers money in the long run. This year’s major project is the $80,000 replacement of the Richard-Dubois Park restroom building, funded by donations and grants. The maintenance program will be updated yearly.
According to Plummer, the city’s Buffalo Street project will have a major effect on municipal parks, specifically Nye Park on Center Lake. The ambitious plan, including the construction of townhouses, a multi-use facility for commercial residents and a new plaza, will “change the aesthetics of the whole area,” he commented. The parks department offices will be relocated and the boat launch will move to the parking lot north of Bixler Park, where a new fishing pier is in the works as well. This will also provide more lake recreation opportunities, Plummer noted, with increased paddleboard, kayak and canoe rentals.
These are just a few of the projects listed in the 139 page master plan, which may be viewed online at www.warsaw.in.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1847, along with the public survey.