A view of the sign at the entrance to Heflen Park in Edinburgh, Ind., Thursday, May 4, 2023. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
A view of the sign at the entrance to Heflen Park in Edinburgh, Ind., Thursday, May 4, 2023. Mike Wolanin | The Republic
County officials authorized a five-year look into the future of what may be in store for the county’s dozen parks.

The Bartholomew County Commissioners on Monday approved an agreement with an outside consultant who will produce an updated master plan for the Bartholomew County Parks and Recreation Department.

Zionsville-based Zec Eight Insights will receive $27,000 for the work. The master plan will serve as a road map in identifying certain goals the county parks department wants to reach during the five-year period and is also required when seeking to apply for grants, according to Bartholomew County Park Director Rich Day.

Parks officials had reached out to four different companies to potentially put the master plan together, but landed on Zec Eight who has done similar work for parks departments in Fort Wayne, Danville and Bargersville, David Apple told the commissioners.

The updated five-year plan has to be submitted in September in order for the parks department to be eligible for grants in 2025, according to Day, adding that the parks department and parks board will work with the consultant to set realistic goals before its time to finalize the plan.

Half of the agreement was paid by the Heritage Fund —the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County and the other $13,500 was paid for through funds the county received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, according to Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz, R-District 1.

The county parks budget has ballooned since the last master plan was approved by the parks board in 2020 from $298,527 then to $659,471 this year.

The previous master plan was done by Ed Curtin, a former planner and city parks administrator, which allowed the county to be awarded nearly $70,000 for bank restoration at Heflen Park.

It was announced in early February of this year that all 12 parks are set to receive either equipment replacement or facility upgrades in the future. The county replaces or updates amenities in one to two parks every year and will do so until all planned improvements are made, Day said previously.

The improvements starting this summer include the replacement of playground equipment at Grammer Park, located near the intersection of County Roads 1000E and 300S, and Petersville Park, off County Road 550E, just north of East 25th Street. The playground areas will also undergo site preparation work and be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Besides Grammer and Petersville, the other county parks are Anderson Falls, Azalia, Clifford, Dunn, Elizabethtown, Heflen, Mt. Healthy, Owens Bend, Rock Creek and Wayne.

Over the past couple of years the county has shown an increasing willingness to invest into their parks network. In March of last year the parks board agreed to invest $726,170 on a new LED lighting system at Dunn Stadium. That following summer, county parks paid $80,422 to get a handle on soil erosion at Heflen Park. In the fall, a decision was made to spend more than $600,000 on an illuminated 12-court pickle ball complex at Dunn.

Funds from the federal American Rescue Plan were used when legally permitted for some of these upgrades.
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