Parks priorities pondered

Diane Raver | The Herald-TribuneJoan (from right) and Don Karbowski and (partially hidden) Mike Baumer listen as Eric Frey reveals some of the survey results.

A handful of Batesville residents attended a June 12 meeting at Liberty Park to comment on the city parks' facilities as part of the parks' five-year master plan.

Eric Frey, Administrative Resources association, Columbus, executive director, said the goal of the gathering was "to get the voice of the community. This is your plan."

"We kicked off the process in March when we met with the park board .... We took an inventory of what you have and looked at the plan that was in place for the last five years. The city's comprehensive plan also does a really nice job of identifying parks as a big part of the community."

"The mission of the Batesville Parks and Recreation Department is to provide a superior recreation and park experience to all members of the Batesville community, creating a better quality of life, access to the outdoors and opportunity for play of all kinds for all ages and abilities."

"We've had a phenomenal response to the survey (about parks facilities) with over 1,200 responses so far." Individuals still have time to participate (please see box).

"One of the questions we always ask is 'are you using the parks?' Almost everyone who filled out the survey is. The most used is Liberty Park (91.6 percent), followed by Brum Woods (76.2 percent) and Batesville Memorial Pool (57.6 percent)

"Of the activities people do most often, it was really clear people like to get out and walk (40 percent plus nature walk, 28 percent) .... Playing with children (27 percent) and social gatherings (20 percent) were also pretty high," he noted. "It's nice to know the amenities you're providing are consistent with what people want."

"You've got a lot of regular users. Most said they used park facilities two to 10 times per month (47 percent). That means they're using them a few times a week."

Frey invited attendees to share their thoughts on facilities and programming needs, upgrades and priorities.

Don Karbowski said, "Being on the park board, one of our long-term projects is to improve the Batesville Memorial Pool .... I would also like to have an indoor pool, but that has to be a community project."

"People like to have walking trails, and I hope we can get the gravel trails paved at The Plex. If you have a kid in a stroller, you can't move on the gravel."

City council member John Irrgang announced he would like to have a way for people to walk from the south to the north side of the city, as well as have a trail that connects Batesville and Oldenburg.

Marc Emral suggested "coming up with a way of using the (Liberty Park) reservoir more, instead of just for fishing and walking around it."

Parks commissioner Mike Baumer maintained, "I love that idea ... (and) I wanted to put an accessible ramp from there to connect to our trails ... (but) that's our drinking water and there are regulations" about what can and cannot be done there.

Kathy Newell reported, "For me, the nicest part of our parks system is the trails. I think the most important project should be the continuation of the trails system and paving them ... (and) for those with disabilities, they (trails) need to be wheelchair accessible."

Baumer said, "One of the problems we're running into now with funding is we already have our trails," with some funded through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. "They (IDNR officials) want to get trails throughout Indiana, so if it comes up that 10 people apply for five grants, the five that don't have trails are going to get the grants."

Paul Satchwill wondered about drug use in the parks and having a safety plan in place.

The commissioner revealed, "I think it's gotten much better here with (security) cameras being in place."

Emral asked, "What about a community garden area?"

Frey noted that even though this was a small group, they had a lot of great ideas.

Citizens will have another chance to voice their concerns or suggestions about the city parks Wednesday, July 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Building at the Batesville Parks and Recreation meeting.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

Input welcomed

June 30 is the deadline to complete the online survey that will help guide the 2020 Batesville parks master plan. Residents and nonresidents can go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BatesvillePark