Board looks to expand Dubois County Park

The plan to grow Dubois County Park includes improvements such as more RV and tent campsites, improved shelter house areas, individual picnic sites, extensive walking trails, an activity area for children, a restroom facility that would double as a welcome building, and an additional road that leads into the park. View the full plan here: Dubois County Park Master Plan.pdf

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

BRETZVILLE — Years from now, Dubois County Park will be bigger to accommodate more campers and to have amenities that encourage day visitors to use park facilities.

The Dubois County Park Board Tuesday received a plan to make multiple park improvements. But board members agreed that it will take years to implement all the components. The work will be done in pieces as grants and finances become available.

The plan calls for many improvements such as more recreation vehicles (RVs) and tent campsites, improved shelter house areas, individual picnic sites, extensive walking trails, an activity area for children, a restroom facility that would double as a welcome building, and an additional road that leads into the park.

Dan Engelbrecht, a landscape architect for Hafer Associates, presented the plan to the board. He separated the park into two areas: the west side, which would cater to campers, and the east side, which would be designed for day visitors.

The east side of the park grounds would have several individual picnic sites spread along the access roads and a large pavilion with nearby parking south of the lake. The current gravel parking lot just north of the lake would be the site of a small welcome center that has restrooms; the southern end of the lot would be paved to help with accessibility, Engelbrecht explained.

A second road leading into the park is also suggested. And signs distinguishing the park from the 4-H Fairgrounds would also be added to entrance roads, Engelbrecht said.

The west side of the park would have more development. The number of RV campsites would be doubled by adding more sites west and south of the current sites. Tent camping sites would be moved into a more wooded area on the south end of the park, near an existing shelter house and away from the main park roads.

The shelter house would be renovated and have more designated uses, such as a sports courts area, a playground activities area, and shaded picnic areas near a shelter on the south end.

The playground activity area would include a playground for 2- to 5-year-olds and one for 6- to 12-year-olds, a sand play area and a small splash pad. The nearby shelter house would be renovated to be child-friendly with features like picnic tables lower to the ground or colorful trash cans. The edge of the area would be defined with a track that children could use, and seating for watching parents would be nearby.

Trails of varying degrees of difficulty would run throughout the park. But it will require very little tree removal, park board President Christine Prior explained.

“When you look at this and think, ‘Oh my gosh, they are going to start cutting down a lot of trees,’ we’re not doing that,” she said. “What we’re doing is using some existing trails that have already been blazed through the woods and enhancing those so that our campers and our day users are aware of those and they use them.”

Engelbrecht in his exploration of the park, found that “there was already a pathway through some undisturbed woodland,” Prior said. “It’s probably from 50, 60 years ago, when our forefathers were going through the woods for timber or something else.”

Benches or resting areas could be added at some of the points where different trails meet and cross, Engelbrecht encouraged. And the different camp sites, shelter areas and trails should be named; doing so will help people feel like they know the camp, he said.

Cost guesstimates for the various features included with the design are between $2.2 million and $2.7 million, depending on the extent of work for each project. But, Jeff Justice of Hafer said, the estimates are based on 2018 costs; those costs could increase in future years.

The board determined that developing the RV sites in the south end of the park would likely be a first project. That way, the current site is not disturbed, Prior said. Also, the board is looking to work with Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission to find grants for other projects in the plan.




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