Seymour awarded grant for playground equipment, seeks funding for more pickleball courts

The city has received a large grant to add new playground equipment at several parks.

Another feature could be coming to a park on the south side of Seymour, too.

During a recent Seymour Parks and Recreation Department Board meeting, Director Stacy Findley said with the new pickleball courts at Gaiser Park being rented out and occupied on a regular basis, she’s going to submit an application for a grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center to build more courts.


She already has two letters of support from local pickleball enthusiasts, and she asked for one from a board member.

Kendra Zumhingst said would write a letter and also knows another woman in town who regularly plays pickleball who would be willing to do so.

The board approved Findley’s request to apply for the grant. The application is due Monday, and if awarded, Findley said a playground that was installed in the 1990s would be removed to make way for the new courts.

“We received a grant for a new playground, so we will be removing that one and putting in the other playground by the existing playground equipment,” she said. “That will be a wide-open lot right there.”

She also said she would like to add solar lighting to the courts and establish a pickleball league.

“We’ve obviously established the community is in favor of pickleball, so let’s make a league,” she said. “If that’s what people want, I think we need to be receptive to that.”

The grant for Americans with Disabilities Act playground equipment was applied for by The Arc of Jackson County. Findley said they asked for $1.1 million, but that was reduced by 3%.

The day after the board meeting, she had a call with the Indiana Department of Health about the grant, so she would share more details with the board at the next meeting. Schneck Medical Center in Seymour is the fiscal agent for the grant.

The equipment will be installed at Gaiser, Kasting and Westside parks and at the Freeman Field Recreational Complex.

“I’m excited,” Findley said. “I think we have so many options, and the amount of money that we received, it’s obviously going to be transformational for these neighborhoods.”

The funding includes flooring, which will help the parks department carry out its plan to eliminate mulch around playground equipment at the city’s parks. Mulch still remains at Shields and Kessler parks.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Don Furlow speaks during the annual Veterans Day service at the veterans memorial at Gaiser Park in Seymour on Nov. 11, 2021.

Tribune file photo

“Within our five-year plan, we would like to eliminate all of the mulch,” Findley said. “We spend roughly $11,000 a year on mulch for playgrounds, so with our fundraiser that we do every year, Putting for Parks, those dollars actually go toward playground equipment, so we have purchased playground equipment for Shields that wasn’t included in this grant.”

That will be installed in the spring of 2023, she said.

“Then whatever money we make this spring off Putting for Parks will go toward the flooring so we can eliminate the mulch at Shields,” she said. “We definitely have a plan in place. I think it’ll be great for our park system to eliminate mulch. Definitely a safer option and more inclusive option.”

Another Gaiser Park-related topic was the veterans memorial.

When that was put in place several years ago, a group of veterans agreed to handle the maintenance so the parks department could focus on the rest of the park grounds.

Now, though, Findley said the veterans are older, and some members of the group have passed away.

“There are not very many members left,” she said. “They used to do the maintenance — trimming the bushes, all of that kind of stuff — but they are unable to handle that anymore, so they are requesting the parks department basically maintain it. We’ve been trimming the shrubs and that kind of stuff for a while now just because we know that they haven’t had the capabilities to do so.”

Some of the bushes have died and need to be removed, more rock needs to be added, the veterans would like benches added and the area needs power washed on an annual basis, Findley said.

Since the city owns the property, the veterans asked if the parks department could take over maintenance.

“It has been nice that we’ve not had to spend that money, but we need to do some maintenance now,” Mayor Matt Nicholson told the board.

The board approved for the department to add money to the budget to maintain the veterans memorial moving forward.

Board member Tim Ferret said asking a group like Seymour Young Marines to help with maintenance may be a good idea since it’s looking for community service projects.