Park board concerned with possible merger

Herald file photo by Ariana van den Akker
The Huntingburg Park Board operates parks in the city, including Niehaus Park.


HUNTINGBURG — The Huntingburg Park Board has concerns about the park and street departments merging into one department.

“I feel that combining the two departments would be too much work for one department,” park board member Dustin Schmett said Wednesday afternoon. “I think that could be better managed by keeping two departments rather than merging into one.”

Schmett brought the matter up at Monday’s park board meeting. After some discussion, other members agreed. They put on record their official stance so that city officials would know. “That way, the city council would know how we felt as the park board,” Schmett said.

Discussions started last month about the idea of merging the two departments. Research is being done, so there has been no decision made on the matter, Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner said.

Park Board President Mike Fulkerson said some of the park board members had gotten some feedback from people who did not favor the merge. “After some discussion about it [at Monday’s meeting], they didn’t see any benefit from combining the two departments,” he said. “And that was put to a vote, to ask to just keep it two departments.”

Schmett noted that the parks system has expanded from two to five parks.

“If we just had one or two parks, I think it would be OK. But the parks department has expanded,” he said. “We got Niehaus Park now and we got Market Street Park we’ll have to take care of. And now we got the new Northside Park to take care of.

“With us expanding the parks department, I think that that's too much work for one department."

Park board members wanted their opinion to be on the record. “We don't have the power to say whether or not it will happen or not; that's up to the council,” Schmett said. “But we just wanted the council to know how we felt as a park board. As the park board as a whole, we feel that would be too much work for one department to take care of the streets and take care of all the parks.”

Spinner said that nothing will be decided until the new mayor, who will take office next week, has a chance to study and discuss the feasibility of the idea with the Huntingburg Common Council. The common council is the board that would make a final decision.

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