ARP funds to support county park project


The Dubois County Commissioners approved the use of some American Rescue Plan funds to support Dubois County Park renovations at a Monday meeting.

The project, which will include 14 RV campsites, trail improvements and a restroom building/information center, received only one bid in June. The bid, totaling around $1.1 million, was twice as much as expected and two times more than what the park board has available.

After the Dubois County Park Board met with an architect, they determined that there were few things that could be cut from the project. Some small changes, such as switching from copper to aluminum electric lines, will likely be implemented to reduce costs by about $200,000. 

However, this still isn’t enough for the park board to cover on its own, although it does have funds from the Land and Water Conservation grant. The board will not know for sure what the cost will be until the project is rebid but will definitely need outside support to get it done.

“The fact of the matter is, we have a $250,000 grant, we have a $250,000 match, and we still have a $900,000 project,” Park Board President Christine Prior said. “That’s what the pandemic funds are for, looking not only at essentials of life, but at wellness. And we feel like the Dubois County Park is a big part of that wellness.”

The commissioners approved the use of up to $350,000 of American Rescue Plan funds for the project, agreeing with Prior that the park improvements would add to the county’s quality of place.

“I think this is one of those situations where someone comes to us, and they say ‘I’ve got a plan, and I have over half of the money for the plan' … it’s hard to walk away from the project and lose what we have invested and have a park that is still not to the level we want it to be,” Commissioner Chad Blessinger said.

Prior said that when the park board met with campers in fall 2019, many said they wanted to see more campsites and restrooms more than anything. The majority of campers are county residents, she said.

Much of the ARP funds will go toward water and wastewater improvements, as the money can only be used for certain things and the county is in need in this area. Dubois County is receiving $8.3 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The money that will go toward the park project will ultimately be less than 5% of the county’s total ARP money, which the commissioners said they were comfortable with.

The commissioners also:

• Approved the hiring of Keith Kluesner as a sanitation driver for the Dubois County Highway Department.

• Approved a change order of a net decrease of $1,529.77 for Community Crossings paving projects.

• Approved an additional appropriation of $60,000 for tools and equipment for the highway department.

• Approved a resolution authorizing application, submission and local match commitment concerning American Rescue Plan funds.

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