City parks officials provide update on projects


“Play ball!”

Seymour Parks and Recreation Department staff members hope to hear those words coming from the two new baseball/softball diamonds at Freeman Field Recreational Facility in less than three weeks.

“Our goal is to hold tournaments the weekend of April 30,” Parks Operations Director Chad Keithley said Monday.

Once the fencing is installed, work can begin on placing the bases in the right locations and creating the infield, he said.

The two new fields are located behind the existing ball diamonds in an area that had been used for soccer practice. Once completed, the park will boast five playable fields and give Seymour the opportunity to host larger tournaments and generate more tourism revenue for the city.

The first event scheduled is a USSSA Softball National Invitation Tournament.

“We’ve got a lot of feedback from both the Ohio Valley Sports and the USSSA that they plan to bring more teams,” Keithley said.

Parks Program Director Justin Kiel said the new diamonds are a great addition because there is always a demand for the city’s ball fields for practice, regular games and tournaments.

“Every field is utilized every open minute,” he said.

Originally, the new ball diamonds, which are costing around $128,000, were to be one of three projects funded by a grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center, but the city returned that money last fall because it was not able to complete the work as written in the grant application. The project is now being funded through a capital bond issued by the city council late last year.

The ball fields aren’t the only projects nearing completion, as several others have seen substantial progress in recent weeks.


At Gaiser Park, the two new pickleball courts are coming along and should be ready to play on by the end of May, Keithley said. The main foundation has been installed by the city team.

“We had to go in and dig out like 4½ inches, and then we came back and put down 4½ inches of rock,” Keithley said. “It’s basically ready to have asphalt poured on it.”

Three companies have submitted bids for the asphalt work, and it will be awarded at the next board of works meeting April 22 along with approval to purchase netting.

“Once we get all of that approved, it’s basically getting the lines painted on the asphalt and getting the fence put up around it,” he said.

Kiel said there is a lot of excitement in the community about pickleball, which is similar to tennis but played with paddles instead of rackets.

“We’re going to host a clinic to show people how the game is played, and hopefully, we can get enough people involved to start a pickleball league,” he said.

Originally, the city was planning to put the pickleball courts at Westside Park but decided there wasn’t enough parking available.

The decision to build the courts at Gaiser Park came from information shared by the public during community input sessions, Keithley said.

Like the ball diamonds, the pickleball courts, which have a price tag of around $19,000, were to be funded with grant money but are now being paid for through the same capital bond.

New swings

The construction of the pickleball courts has led the parks department to remove the old swing sets at Gaiser. They will be replaced and relocated closer to the other playground equipment.

The second phase of the playground will include three bays of swings, some of which will be handicap accessible and allow for a parent to swing together with their child.

The parks department is working with The Arc of Jackson County on adding more handicap-accessible play features to the parks.

Keithley said the new swings have been ordered and the city team will again be brought in to complete concrete, curb and dirt work before installing the new swings next week. A pour-in-place surface will be added during the last week of April.

More downtown green space

Also near completion is the new community green space near the John Mellencamp mural in downtown Seymour.

“It’s 90% done,” Keithley said.

The only remaining task is to add LED lighting to existing poles to brighten up the green space and illuminate the mural at night.

Although the project was funded by a $50,000 donation from the Mellencamp family, they have asked the city not to name it after them, Keithley said. The city is working with Seymour Main Street to come up with a name for the new pocket park, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be conducted soon.

The space was formerly a city parking lot but has been transformed into a fenced-in green space with tables and chairs and landscaping. The entire project was completed in-house by the city team with Keithley serving as project manager.

Tonya Disque, administrative assistant for the parks department, said it is a great location for people who live and work downtown to have lunch.

“It’s a convenient meeting place,” she said.

The location has already become a destination for tourists thanks to the 35-foot mural of John Mellencamp painted by Hoosier artist Pamela Bliss on the east-facing side of the This Old Guitar building.

Disk golf

What started out as a suggestion by a community member has become a project that will happen sooner rather than later thanks to an anonymous sponsor.

The department has ordered enough disk golf baskets for a nine-hole course that will be created at Freeman Field.

“We’re going to start out with nine holes, and once we see how well it takes off, we can expand it to possibly 18 holes,” Keithley said.

Community interest is high for disk golf because it’s an activity for all ages, he said.

Kiel said there are a lot of opportunities to attract people who play the sport to Seymour.

“We can add to it, make it pro disk golf compliant and have big tournaments,” he said.

They hope to be able to have the course available for public use by the beginning of fall.

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