By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Proposed projects for the next five years were reviewed at the City of Warsaw Parks and Recreation Board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Deb Schmucker, president and CEO of Cornerstone Planning Design Solutions, reviewed a five-year action plan that included information related to demographics and national outdoor activity trends.
According to results of the public input survey that ran earlier this year, priorities include trails and walking paths; maintaining and updating existing park facilities, shelters, playgrounds, restrooms, disc golf and benches; providing access to water and a variety of activities such as swimming and kayak and paddleboard rentals; multi-generational activities; a new greenhouse; and a new location for the skate park.
“I will also tell you that the number of parks and the unique offerings that you have are dramatically different than most communities your size,” Schmucker said. “Especially, I mean, I could line up 15 or 20 communities and you’re one of the very few that has a campground and has the lakes and the water impact. It’s a huge tourism opportunity, it’s a huge economic support and it’s one of the things that make you really unique and your citizens really embrace that.”
Taking into account information related to activity trends as well as the priorities listed in the local public input survey, a five-year action priority plan was determined.
Projects included in the 2022 plan are relocation of the skate park (contingent on DNR grant/foundation grant/budget),
relocation of the parks department offices, Kelly Park pond revitalization, kayak kiosks, new picnic tables and benches at Rarick Park and paving, curb and sidewalk work. The estimated cost for this is $3,457,000.
Warsaw Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer pointed out that much of that comes out of stormwater fees.
“On 2022, it looks like $3.5 million almost, but as you look at that, the office buildings in there, the relocation of the skate park and the pond revitalization, which comes out of stormwater fees so there’s almost $3.2 million right there … a lot of that is not our budget,” Plummer clarified.
The estimated cost for 2023 projects is $266,000 and includes a new boardwalk from Buffalo Street to Bixler public access, a new playground and gazebo at Madison Grove and concrete tennis table, cornhole and chess sets at Bixler.
Projects for 2024 include restrooms at Hire Park, asphalt parking lot on the Baker Street side of Kelly Park, resurfacing of basketball courts at Boggs Campus and pier removal at Municipal Park. The 2024 project price tag is estimated at $500,000.
The cost of 2025’s priority list projects is estimated at $1,302,000, with $1 million of that going toward a new greenhouse on the Detroit Street property previously occupied by a gas station. Replacement of the Galaxy playground at Kiddieland and the possibility of pickleball courts at Boggs Campus, contingent on Mantis Skate Park relocation, are also on the list.
Shoreline stabilization at Kiwanis Park, renovation of Center Lake Pavilion and fitness stations at Rarick Park are on the 2026 project list with an estimated cost of $2,170,000.
The projected cost for 2027 is $280,000 and includes a zip line or exercise equipment at Krebs Trailhead Park, metal roofs on all four cabins at Lucerne Park and possibly a future playground or additional pickleball courts at Boggs Campus, again contingent on the skate park relocation.
Schmucker described the action plan as “a roadmap, not carved in concrete but certainly a way to get you started and pointed in the right direction.”
In other news, Plummer discussed the potential relocation of Mantis Skate Park from its current location to Richardson-Dubois Park.
The move is contingent on receiving a DNR grant. Plummer said the original estimate for the project was $750,000 and “way out of grant range.”
The original quote involved moving the current ramps.
Plummer said they looked into this further and found that doing all concrete at the new location would be more cost effective than repairing and moving the ramps, which are in need of repair.
By doing all concrete, the grant cost would be $259,881.35 with the parks department matching that, at an overall estimated cost of $519,762.20. Plummer said they should know sometime in October if they receive the grant and if so, they will move forward with the project.
Lastly, there are some recent changes at the parks department.
Stephanie Schaefer has taken over as Warsaw Parks recreation director, a position recently vacated by Sheila Wieringa. Schaefer has worked as Wieringa’s assistant for the past three years and has been with the parks department in some capacity for the past 14 years.
In addition, Heather Vogts, the parks department administrative assistant, will be moving into Schaefer’s previous role, creating an opening for a new administrative assistant.
In other news:
- Plummer applied for a $53,000 grant for remodeling of tennis courts at Bixler Park to include four new pickleball courts.
- New playground equipment for Beyer Park is expected to ship Aug. 27. The Board gave approval for the parks department to remove the old equipment once delivery of the new equipment is received. The new equipment is expected to be installed next April.
- An update on the Kayak kiosk was provided. Plummer said lights and cameras are up. They are currently waiting on lockers and material due to supply chain and distribution channels being backed up.
- The next regular meeting will be 5:15 p.m. Sept. 21.