County Parks Board Lists Highest Priorities In Addressing Recreation Needs Within County
By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Parks and Recreation Board’s draft of a 70-page master plan for parks, trails and recreation over the next five years lists the board’s highest priorities in further addressing the county’s recreational needs.
Listed as bullet points are the board’s goals, with paragraphs further emphasizing its priorities:
- Establish linear park systems along county waterways, including the Tippecanoe River.
The board is prioritizing the establishment of a committee to envision linear park systems and create evaluation criteria. It also is considering hiring an engineering firm to complete a feasibility study to determine suitable locations along the Tippecanoe River for paddler launches on the blueway and for hiking trails on the adjoining greenway. The board is also planning to develop a strategic plan for land acquisition and launch and trail development for a linear park along the Tippecanoe River, moving forward with segments as feasible.
- Add trail connections between communities, parks, recreational facilities, natural resources, schools, and other community facilities in Kosciusko County.
These plans include the proposed addition of a one-mile trail extension along Old 30, west from Chinworth Bridge, to provide trail access to residential areas, and the establishment of trail connections from Syracuse to North Webster; Pierceton to Winona Lake’s Heritage Trail; and North Webster to Warsaw. The board also plans to advocate to the Indiana Department of Transportation for its US 30 Corridor Study to plan for safe bike and pedestrian crossings.
- Add trail connections with regional communities, parks, and trails.
The board plans to advocate for Kosciusko County’s inclusion in the state’s Visionary Trail System, and partner with Marshall, Fulton and Pulaski Counties to define and support a collaborative blueway system. The possibility of creating a trail connection from Rochester’s Nickel Plate Trail to Goshen’s Pumpkinvine Nature Trail through Kosciusko County’s core trail system has also been discussed.
- Establish an annual operating park board budget to adequately maintain the parks and recreation facilities.
To create an annual budget, the board would have to develop maintenance needs and a budget proposal based on priorities and timelines. It would also have to identify and evaluate resource requirements for maintenance, and a potential collaboration with other county resources or third parties. Further listed in the drafted plan is the potential to evaluate invitations to incorporate existing land and/or blueway access into a parks and recreation strategy to include maintenance, resource and budget needs, while utilizing grant admin services for grant applications and management.
The draft of the county parks board’s master plan is available online. Public open houses for community members to share their input on the plan will take place from 5-7 p.m. at the following locations and dates: Thursday, March 16, at the Bell Memorial Public Library; and Tuesday, March 28, at the Warsaw Community Public Library.
A survey for community members to help determine top priorities the board should begin implementing in the next five years is also available online.
The park board’s draft further focuses on needs within the county.