Liberty Park

In what was likely the final Batesville Parks & Recreation Board meeting of the year Nov. 20, members were updated on several items ahead of the winter season.

Eric Frey, Administrative Resources association, Columbus, executive director, returned to confirm that the city parks’ five-year master plan rough draft was prepared for submission to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ve gone through the bulk of the process,” said the director, “and now, if you give me the authorization, we’ll submit the draft to (IDNR). They’ll review it and come back with changes we have to correct.”

That should take about two weeks, said Frey, after which the public will have an opportunity to browse the plan online and later make comments at a BPRB meeting early next year.

“This meeting is one of the steps I need to include, that I presented the draft for you to authorize,” added Frey. “Then we’ll have the (mandatory) public meeting in conjunction with the board meeting. By April 15, 2020, we need a final version adopted by your resolution.”

The board agreed with Frey in hoping for a quality response, similar to what took place in June at Liberty Park.

“If you want funding from DNR, you must hold the public meeting, plus it’s just good practice to have community consensus behind you when you start taking on projects,” said Frey.

Vice President Tim Hunter commented that many items have been checked off the previous master plan.

“This is fun to do because you kind of start with a clean slate,” added Frey. “In some communities, the same projects keep coming up. You guys just knock them out.”

Parks Commissioner Mike Baumer said things are even ahead of schedule on the new master plan, as the ga ga ball pit was completed in Liberty Park this October.

A motion passed unanimously to promptly send the rough draft (with minor revisions) to IDNR.

One major project is very close to being checked off. The park on the city’s north side is “done, for the most part,” said Baumer.

“The parking lot’s paved and we picked out some trees today, that we’ll plant by the end of the year,” he added.

The park’s ribbon cutting was pushed back to next spring to allow time for a couple more additions.

With some financial help from FCN Bank, an overlook deck will be constructed near the existing playground; this will allow patrons to walk out over the wetlands area and view wildlife.

The park’s walking trail is already seeing steady traffic and, with that, some concerns about vehicular traffic on Six Pine Ranch Road.

“We’ve put signs up and done everything we can,” said Baumer. “When there’s a crosswalk (connecting to a future trail behind Batesville Tool & Die), all we have to do is put up arrows and reflectors.”

A future project at the park will be for playground equipment geared to toddlers. The current equipment is meant to cover the larger age group of 5-12. The cost for the addition would be approximately $24,000, the commissioner said, and some type of crowdfunding may be utilized.

Name submissions for the park can be made until Dec. 10 (https://batesvilleindiana.us/departments/parks-recreation/park-name-suggestion/), though there’s no shortage of suggestions to date. Margaret Mary Health, which donated the park’s three acres, has stipulated the name not include an individual.

Baumer will pare the list down to around 10 entries and have each board member choose their top five. Top choice will be unveiled at the ribbon cutting.

Other commissioner items included using Liberty Park Dog Park funds to keep improving that area, as well as enclosing the open space atop the Liberty Park Pavilion restrooms to deter vandalism.

Batesville Memorial Pool’s 2019 season was reviewed. Paul Gates, clerk-treasurer, and Jane Tekulve, pool manager, updated the board.

The financials are all but complete, based on the most recent revenue/expense summary.

“The bottom line is we had actual revenue of $194,220 and actual expenses of $123,000, so we had a nice plus just like last year,” Gates said of the $75,179 net in 2018 and the $71,220 net this year.

He pointed out – and Tekulve seconded – that there was less season pass and daily entrance revenue than in 2018, due mostly to cold and rainy weather throughout June. That net difference amounted to $3,784.

“When it gets to July, a lot of people think it’s not worth buying a pass,” added Gates.

Beyond that, however, this season saw an increase in swim lessons, concessions, miscellaneous, party rentals and tax (property and miscellaneous state funding) revenues. The pool receives 38% of the tax revenue haul that’s placed in the Park & Pool Fund.

Gates did not see any reason to increase entrance/season pass fees for next summer, touting the pool as “wonderful,” with the city able to keep it relatively inexpensive for residents.

The clerk-treasurer revealed that money to replace the pool’s main liner (approximately $60,000) will be taken out of the budget next fall for installment in spring 2021.

In the longer term, the pool’s underground mechanical room (pump, filters) hasn’t reached a critical state with rust and corrosion, but needs to be addressed within 2-3 years, per Gates.

“It’s definitely on the radar,” he said. “We need to look at how to fund that (in the six figures), start putting money away. We don’t want to have to close the pool. That would be the worst.”

A much smaller expense would be a new diving board, which Tekulve said has a cracked covering and is sliding off to the side.

General maintenance will continue around the pool grounds and buildings.

“The concrete was cleaned and some trees were taken out, because of debris and leaves coming down into the locker rooms,” said Gates. “Overall, we want to make sure everything is up to date and cleaned up.”

Hunter raised the subject of returning lifeguards for 2020.

Tekulve answered that she had 21 guards this season and all received ample hours. She also noted several guards are entering their junior year in college and may be pulled away for internships and the like.

The manager added that anyone may apply. Gates said he felt Batesville residents should be preferred simply due to their proximity to the pool.

Tekulve wants to check other facilities in the area to make sure her guards’ salaries are in line.

Will Fehlinger can be contacted at sports@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, ext. 220112