Park improvements on track to start next spring

Rendering courtesy Hafer Associates

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The first phase of work for the Dubois County Park will likely start next year.

The Dubois County Park Board heard Tuesday that the park is 99% guaranteed to receive a $250,000 Land and Water Conservation grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The board and county must take some steps to complete the process to get the grant.

One step is to have a guarantee in place to make sure the land will always be a park. DNR officials were concerned about this because technically, the park board leases the land from the county.

That will be resolved, Board President Christine Prior said. The Dubois County Commissioners agreed on Monday to terminate the lease.

“We don’t need the lease with the county because the county owns it and the county appoints us,” Prior said. “All we really need is an assurance from the county commissioners that with this grant, this park will be held as recreational ground in perpetuity.”

The county is now working on the perpetuity language that will be added to the land deeds.

An environmental review and wetlands delineation survey also needs to be done on the property. Lisa Gehlhausen of the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission is working to get quotes from firms to do that work. Since the park board’s next meting isn’t until January, board members gave Prior permission to execute contracts with the firms, so long as the total of both does not exceed $15,000.

The results will be submitted to the state in December or January so that the grant can be officially awarded and work on the improvements can start in the spring.

The park board plans to match the grant with $250,000 from its budget, which means that $500,000 in improvements will be done.

That will allow 14 RV campsites to be added south of the current RV camping site. An existing trail that runs from the southeast side of the parking lot will be improved and connected to a new trail that will run to the new RV campsite. The new trail will also connect to some existing trails that run through parts of the park and to the existing RV campsites. Those parts of the existing trails will be improved to be wheelchair-accessible.

A restroom building, which will also house an information center, will also be installed near the southwest corner of a gravel parking lot, close to the lake and Our Precious Angels Monument area. A paved parking lot will be built south of the new restroom; the lot will have space for 12 cars, with five of those being wheelchair-accessible.

In discussing the upcoming improvements, board members talked about requests Park Superintendent Bob Gress has received about the two-week limit that is placed on using RV campsites. People have asked that the limit be removed for the older sites once the new ones are installed.

Board members also expressed concerns about people using the campground as a residence. “The goal of the campgrounds is not to provide temporary housing,” ex-officio member Ken Eck said.

At the same time, board member Joe Keusch said, “we want to keep the campground as full as possible.”

There are certain RV spots that board member Mark Denu said are the most desired ones, because they’re easier to get RVs in and out.

“You don’t want to tie up your prime spots,” he said.

Different suggestions were given, including increasing the time limit past two weeks, requiring campers to move to another location if there is a time extension and designating some campsites for extended stays. The board will continue to think about the matters, but Gress needs some direction on the issue before the campsites open again in April, Prior said.

The park board also:

• Decided to hold a celebration for the 50th anniversary of the county park. The celebration, which is open to the public, will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at the park. Refreshments will be served.

• Heard that the board’s next regular meeting will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the 4-H Fairgrounds’ Clover Pavilion building.




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