Warsaw Parks Board OKs Replacement Of Trees

The pine trees between Indiana Street and the NIPSCO substation will be replaced with arborvitaes after the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Board approved a request from Superintendent Larry Plummer to replace the blue spruces. Photo Provided.

There’s a number of projects going on with the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department, and Superintendent Larry Plummer updated the Board on all of it Tuesday.

The only action the Board took, however, was to give the Parks Department permission to replace the pine trees along Indiana Street with arborvitae trees.

“This is something that I wanted to bring in front of the Board. The pine mound that separates Indiana Street from the NIPSCO substation – in 1994, the pines, the blue spruces were planted on that hill. And there’s a disease going around for blue spruces right now that are just tearing them up,” Plummer said.

The Parks Department had to take out three trees. Some of the trees are overgrown into the road and some were trimmed around the lights, while others were topped off by NIPSCO by the power lines there.

He said they had Dogwood Hills Tree Farm come down to look at some alternatives.

“We decided that the Parks employees would take out the pine trees there and we would do 5- to 6-foot arborvitaes for the 217-foot along the top of that hill. We’d give it a fresh look and a fresh start, and still have the buffering there between the NIPSCO substation and Indiana Street,” Plummer explained.

Additionally, he said they also had Dogwood Hills Tree Farm look at the trees around the Central Park fountain area. Two Bradford pear trees fell there and several others show some “branch deterioration,” Plummer said. Some of the trees will be replaced with other yet-to-be-determined trees.

In the next few years, Plummer said they’ll have to take a look at the pine trees that separate Central Park from McDonald’s because of disease and they start to look stringy as they get bigger.

“You can see right through them. They’re really not a very good barrier. I think it’s important to keep up on replacing some of these trees and updating as we go,” Plummer said.

Larry Ladd, Board vice president, asked if NIPSCO had any issues with the pine trees being removed and the arborvitaes going in. Plummer said they do not. Ladd made a motion for the Parks Department to replace the pine trees, Board member Noemi Ponce seconded it and it was unanimously approved.

On the K21 Courts at Bixler Park, Plummer said they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday with the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce for the new pickleball and tennis courts. The courts, which cost $82,400, have been opened since Oct. 1. A K21 Health Foundation grant provided $53,000 of the cost.

“Between the Kelly Park project and the ?K21 Courts, K21 has given over $80,000 to have our courts reconditioned,” Plummer said.

Mayor Joe Thallemer later said, “I just really wanted to thank K21 for the support they’ve given the community. The pickleball craze has obviously hit Warsaw and we’ve gone from zero to eight courts in several years and we couldn’t have done it without K21.”

He said the city has got some really quality tournament courts at Kelly Park and some great recreational courts at Bixler Park.

“I just really am thankful to K21 for what they’ve done. Their generosity,” Thallemer said.

Board President Steve Haines agreed they’ve done a great job.

Plummer said two people also contacted the Parks Department about providing clinics in 2023 for pickleball and tennis.

The pickleball and tennis nets will be taken down Nov. 1 for the season and put back up in April.

On the office/maintenance garage building project, Plummer reported the walls are up. The plan is to get the exterior done and do interior work during the winter months. Plummer said the plan is to do the exterior concrete and the base of the asphalt yet this winter and finish the asphalt in the spring.

“All the furnishings for the building … those things have all been ordered, purchased. So we’re just currently working on the signage for the building to get that going,” he said.

The project is still on course to be completed by March 1. There have been no weather delays as of the last construction meeting, Plummer indicated.

On the Center Lake Pavilion renovation project, Plummer said the work continues there. The crews have gone in and are tearing down walls, taking the ceiling down and gutting the interior.

“Progress is being made, that’s for sure,” he said.

CME Corp. is remodeling the pavilion for $2,776,000, with Zimmer Biomet Foundation paying for $2.5 million of the cost. Plummer said completion should be in September 2023.

Moving on to Rarick Park, Plummer said a lot has been happening over there. The old playground equipment was torn out and about 13 tons of fill dirt were hauled in to put in the park and raise the elevation.

“Our employees, our carpenters, have built a brand new 20-foot gazebo with an interior bench that you can sit (on) and look in all directions,” Plummer said. “We have a circular sidewalk that we’re finishing up – all but 20 feet of it – this Friday is our last pour. We’re leaving that section open so we can get in there and install the playground equipment in the spring.”

Landscaping has been put in on the front.

All the work has been done in-house by the Parks Department laborers.

“We’ve had several people in the neighborhood stop by and thank us for the improvements,” Plummer said, adding that “it’s changing the park.”

Park Board member Michelle Boxell said she had somebody tell her they were excited to finally see the park get upgraded and that they would have a park that was useable for them.

The basketball courts are scheduled to be addressed in the spring, too, Plummer said.