Brownstown Park Board five-year plan receives approval



A round of applause was given during Tuesday night’s Brownstown Park Board meeting.

After a couple of years of work, the five-year plan for the park had been approved by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

That was cause for celebration.

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Board secretary Linda Saucerman was happy to make the announcement and share copies of the letter from the state with the other board members. The letter was sent by Greg Beilfuss, chief planner for the IDNR Division of Outdoor Recreation.

The division’s planning staff reviewed the final draft of the 2020-2025 parks and recreation master plan and determined it met the DNR’s minimum requirements.

Saucerman also shared a reply from Beilfuss after she let him know they received the acceptance letter. In her reply, she thanked Beilfuss for his help and patience in getting the master plan approved.

"It’s all your hard work on it that made it happen, and you folks should be proud of your accomplishment and your new plan to follow," Beilfuss wrote. "You all did a really nice job, and it shows in the plan. Many thanks to you and your whole board for all your patience and hard work on this plan. Good luck with the plan’s implementation."

To make the news even better, the letter certified that the town is eligible to apply for Land and Water Conservation Fund grants through the IDNR in the 2020 grant year.

Grant applications may consist of land acquisition and/or facility construction or renovation for local public parks for outdoor recreation, according to the IDNR’s website. New parks or additions to existing parks may be funded.

The land acquisition or development may not be started until final approval is received from the federal government. All land to be developed must be controlled by the park board through direct ownership.

Examples of projects include acquiring park or natural area; picnic areas; sports and playfields; water-oriented facilities for boating, swimming and access to lakes, rivers and streams; natural areas and interpretive facilities; campgrounds; fishing and hunting areas; winter sports facilities; amphitheaters and bandstands; trails; roads, restrooms, utilities and park maintenance buildings; and nature centers.

It was recommended the board reach out to Bob Bronson, the grant section chief, as soon as possible about future grant applications. The board members agreed to contact him to see how he can help the town. Then they can determine if a local grant writer is needed.

Board member Brian Wheeler said some grant applications can be time-consuming to ensure everything is gathered.

"It’s a lot of legwork. It just takes a lot of time and effort," he said. "(The state) could tell us if we need a middle person grant writer."

The next five-year plan will be due Jan. 15, 2026, which is when the current Land and Water Conservation Fund grant application eligibility will expire.

The extensive five-year plan includes improvements that need to be made at the park.

The action plan starts this year. The fencing recently was replaced around the volleyball court and screens were added, and a new fence was installed around the main pool.

The proposed projects and estimated costs for 2020 are installing an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant walkway and retaining wall behind the softball field and lake ($35,000), installing two new bleacher sets at the softball field ($10,000), installing new dugouts and a scoreboard at the softball field ($20,000), installing a new fence at the softball field ($50,000) and planting a dozen shade trees in the park ($30,000).

As the board put the five-year plan together, Beilfuss had several questions about ADA accessibility at the park. He said as improvements are made at the park, the board needs to ensure they meet ADA compliance mandates.

Saucerman let him know the board plans to contact local engineering consultants to see if they could help with ADA compliance. She said he praised the board for seeking an outside expert opinion.

Board President Richard Burrell said some ADA compliance has taken place at the pool, including adding a lift for those with disabilities.

"I still think it would be a good idea to have somebody next spring come in and say, ‘Hey, here’s a suggestion,’" Wheeler said. "It gives you ideas, areas of more concern."

In 2021, one of the most costly projects in the five-year plan will be replacing the play feature in the leisure pool, which has a cost estimate of $100,000. The board also plans to install an additional parking lot left of the park entrance off of Bridge Street ($50,000) and install a portion of security lighting and cameras in the park ($15,000).

The only project in 2022 is acquiring an additional lot at Heritage Park in the downtown ($50,000).

Another $100,000 project comes in 2023 when the board hopes to construct a building for restrooms at Heritage Park. At that same location, the board plans to construct a splash pad, which is estimated to cost $50,000.

The board also included two large projects that most likely will require grant funding. Acquiring 12 acres for additional park development and installing a walk and bike path around the perimeter of Brownstown Park each will cost around $200,000.

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