A flat part of South Street Park, located southeast of its intersection with Depot Street, will be used as a dog park on a trial basis, the Batesville Parks and Recreation Board decided July 17. Mayor Rick Fledderman received a suggestion from a local Girl Scout troop to install the asset there “to allow residents to let their dogs run freely” and Parks Commissioner Mike Baumer liked the idea.
Temporary fencing previously used on The Plex’s field No. 4 will establish the dog park’s boundaries. “We’re going to have to put some sort of gate on it,” Fledderman added. BPRB President Bob Fitzpatrick wondered if benches could be installed for dog owners. “I could bring some from (Liberty) Park,” the commissioner answered.
In the future, if the board votes to make the dog park permanent, “we have to come up with some funding” for a better fence and access to water for the animals, the mayor noted.
Baumer and Fledderman will draft some rules, which will be posted, and bags for waste disposal will be available. The mayor said, “If people don’t clean up” after their pets, the park will vanish.
Member Dr. Ed Negovetich asked, “Would you require permits?” Fledderman said, “Maybe they’d have to be registered with the city … (the dogs) would have to have their vaccinations” so they could mingle safely.
According to Fledderman, “The future (of the dog park) … is really in the pet owners’ hands. We’ll see how much it’s used.”
Baumer explained the park will be improved in another way. Dollars from an engraved brick fundraiser for the park will be used to purchase and install curbing around the playground.
“There are two safety issues at The Plex,” Batesville’s new baseball and softball complex, Negovetich pointed out. Netting or another kind of barrier is needed to protect spectators from foul balls. The other danger: Prominent ground lips between infield and outfield areas, especially on the coach-pitched diamond. The physician noted, “If a kid steps on that wrong, you could easily sprain if not break an ankle.”
Baumer concurred, “They need to just bring the fields up about 2-3 inches. Everybody knows that netting is needed.” He said it could offer protection and “some shade.” Fledderman, Baumer and BPRB member Tim Hunter will meet with baseball and softball leaders in mid-August. Baumer said, “When we meet, we have to decide who’s taking over. Is the league responsible for putting them up” or the city?
Negovetich concluded, “I think we all agree some type of netting or protective barrier is necessary. The liability needs to be clarified if something happens before” a solution is installed. “You can incur a boatload of medical expenses with a blow to the head.” The mayor will discuss the issue with city attorney Lynn Fledderman.
Batesville Memorial Pool co-manager Alex Davis reported seven private pool parties have been planned for this summer. With charges of $100 per hour, the income helps stretch the very tight parks budget. “I just scheduled a soccer one. We don’t go any later than 10 p.m.”
Lifeguards have used the handicapped lift about 10 times, so it was a needed recent purchase. Although Batesville public schools open Aug. 7, the pool will be open on weekends, most likely through Labor Day. Davis and co-manager Emily Weberding will schedule college students, who return to school later, to lifeguard.
“You’d be surprised” how many Liberty Park shelter and pavilion reservations have been made for 2014, said mayoral assistant Beth West. A subcommittee (Fledderman, city clerk Ron Weigel, Negovetich and BPRB member Brad Dickey) still is exploring the possibility of raising rental fee amounts, then will bring recommendations to the full panel.
Member Don Karbowski said, “We ought to have some type of a basic or minimum charge for the organizations and churches” rather than letting them use the spaces for free. Use of the pavilion with kitchen now costs $250. He suggested charging the nonprofits $150. He pointed out, “The only way we can get more money for the parks” is to revise fees upwards.
Now youth baseball, softball and soccer players pay $5 fees to use The Plex and Bill Gillespie Soccer Park. Karbowski said, “Maybe that should be $15.” Baumer estimated each summer the city spends over $10,000 on gas, labor and other expenses to maintain The Plex.
Fitzpatrick wanted to ban out-of-town persons from renting park facilities, but the mayor disagreed, suggesting they pay higher fees than locals, who also contribute to Batesville parks at tax time. When outsiders use a city park space, “they may go to Kroger” or other businesses and spend money, Fledderman pointed out.
West recommended elevating the $275 price for large companies, such as Batesville Casket and Batesville Tool & Die, to rent the pavilion and tables for picnics. “That’s a heck of a deal” for large gatherings.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
Trails project delayed • Baumer announced some disappointing news: Batesville's grant application to create a trail around The Plex and soccer park was denied by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Five of 15 state applicants will receive funds.