Parks Department Sees Growth in 2015

The Warsaw Parks & Recreation Department had a “tremendous” and busy year in 2015, according to Superintendent Larry Plummer.
During the Park Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, he presented the 2015 Year in Review, starting with the things the Parks Department accomplished.
Plummer said his department continued its renovation on the Nye Youth Cabin. The exterior of the building was stained and railings and trim were painted. A new metal roof also was installed on the facility. In 2014, the interior was completed including making the bathrooms more ADA compliant.
Repairs to the Beyer Farm Trail boardwalk were completed last year. “The guys worked all summer on that to get two-thirds of that done,” he said.
Playground equipment at Richard Dubois Park on East Market Street that has been around since the 1960s was replaced and the elevation of the area was raised.
Sidewalks from the shelter to the playground were poured, allowing for ADA -compliant accessibility from the shelter and drive into the playground area.
“It’s getting a lot of use there,” Plummer stated.
At Lucerne Park, the north parking lot, where the senior citizens park for the Kosciusko Community Senior Service, was repaved.
The Parks Department continued its tree replacement program in 2015. Damaged or dead trees were replaced at McKinley and Central parks.
At the Pike Lake Campgrounds, employees constructed a picnic shelter area in an effort to “upgrade” the campgrounds, Plummer said. The shelter will allow for activities and meals to be held there. “It kind of pulls the whole park together,” he said.
Sewers in the campground are being repaired one row at a time at the campgrounds.
Another construction effort by Parks Department employees in 2015 included the addition to the existing maintenance storage pole barn. It’s insulated and there’s a furnace in there. Plummer said they’re trying to get NIPSCO to hook up to the building. It also has a restroom facility.
“We actually made this building our Christmas storage building. Everything is in one location now, and we’ll be able to work on that as the time comes for that,” Plummer said. Currently, the old Indiana American Water Co. building on North Buffalo Street is used for that, but is cumbersome. The new pole barn will free up space for the Parks employees to work.
Phase two of the LED ornamental light replacement project was finished in 2015. Ornamental lights in Central, Municipal and Bixler parks and Pike Lake beach were converted to LED lighting.
“This is our effort to save power all throughout our park system,” Plummer stated, noting it will save money not only with energy use but also with replacement and repairs. The LED lamps have a longer life expectancy and do not require a ballast to operate.
Michelle Boxell, board member, asked Plummer how much the LED lighting was saving the Parks. Plummer replied that he couldn’t tell her exactly how much because the Christmas lights still needed to be converted and it would take a two-year span to determine cost savings.
The Parks Department also collaborated with other groups on projects. With the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, it replaced the Pike Lake Public Access Ramp; and with the Kosciusko Convention and Visitors Bureau and Warsaw Planning Department it installed a nine-hole disc golf course at Lucerne Park. In conjunction with Stormwater Coordinator Theresa Sailor, the Clean Water Art Project was implemented at Central Park to educate the public about storm water drains. With the Kiwanis, a memorial garden was created and installed at Kiwanis Park by Lakeview Middle School.
Equipment purchased by the Parks last year included a new Toro Zero Turn mower, replacing a front-end loader, a new maintenance truck and an enclosed trailer.
Two employees completed their certified playground safety inspectors exam and now are certified. “It’s a pretty tough course,” Plummer acknowledged. The Parks Department’s two pesticide and one ornamental licensed applicators received continued education.
Additional Christmas lights were purchased for Central Park’s annual display from money raised by Young Tiger Football’s concession stand. Money also was donated by Maple Leaf Farms, Hodgepodge and Mark Skibowski RE-MAX for five new LED rope light figurines.
He said the Parks also continued its downtown responsibilities, which include maintaining 80 satellite flower beds.
Having qualified personnel and a great Park Board and City Council that supports the Parks & Recreation, Plummer said, they were able to have a very busy and successful year.
Looking at income for 2015, campground rent increased to $71,721.61 from $58,640 in 2014. Pavilion rent was down to $16,210.78 in 2015 from $18,054 in 2014. Table rental was up to $5,292.28 in 2015 from $4,487 in 2014.
Rental of the Firemen’s Building, Nye Youth Cabin and Lucerne/Ramsey was up in 2015 at $21,454.83 from $19,519.49 in 2014. Leases and contracts for the Pete Thorn Youth Center and Wayne Township also were up in 2015 at $85,136 from $82,636 in 2014; while Central Park, the plaza and all shelter rentals were down to $4,196.73 in 2015 from $5,241.23 in 2014. Sales tax was $4,159.69 in 2015, compared to $4,295.16 in 2014, while miscellaneous income was $4,887.40 in 2015, up from $4,710.10 in 2014.
While total income for the Pete Thorn Youth Center was $38,636 in 2015, total expenses were $38,427.97. After expenses, net income for the Center Lake Pavilion was $1,115.87; Pike Lake Campground, $40,373.82; Firemen’s Building, $7,351.62; and Nye Youth Cabin, $3,678. All of those figures were up from 2014.
“I don’t know if we can continue to keep growing those numbers, but if we can maintain them, I think we’re doing a successful job,” Plummer stated.
Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa then gave her 2015 year-in-review report.
“Concerts were all good. Classic rock concert was way down, but keep in mind it was rainy and cold and we were all drenched,” she said.
Estimated attendance at the Central Park Concert Series was 1,875 for nine total concerts, including one that was cancelled and one moved indoors. An estimated 4,000 people attended both the classic rock and Blues & BBQ concerts, while 6,000 attended the country music concert.
The community canoeing had a 13 percent increase in attendance in 2015, with 307 participants, while Christmas Countdown had a 50 percent increase in attendance with 600. Mantis Skate Park had a 33 percent decrease with 410 participants, but Wieringa said that’s something she wants to target this year to improve.
The total number of participants for all programs and events in 2015 was 21,220, she reported. Total revenue from the programs was $53,290.87, not including in-kind gifts.

(Story By The Times Union)