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Park Dept. cautions Baker’s Field sledders

December 27, 2010

COLUMBIA CITY — Sledding down the hills in DeVol Field is a popular winter activity, but sledding in Baker’s Field is dangerous and off-limits, according to the Columbia City Parks Board.
“Every year we have issues with this (Baker’s Field), but what drives us crazy is they (people sledding) are not allowed to sled on the Baker’s Field side,” Parks Director Mark Green said Monday evening.
“This is dangerous because you don’t know what is under the snow and it seems once a year somebody breaks their leg. We want people to stay between the bales.”
New signs are being installed in the sledding area, due to theft of the old signs. The signs specifically state to sled at your own risk.
“We better get concrete to get them (new signs) down,” board secretary Dennis Warnick said.
In new business, Green reported on several positive changes which will take place in upcoming summer leagues.
“I know it sounds really early to talk about baseball, but there has been a lot of work done already for the summer,” Green said.
“Anyone that signs up (baseball/softball) gets one free ticket to a Tin Caps game and we will have a Columbia City night at the Tin Caps game — additional tickets will have to be purchased.”
The traveling team is discussing an end of league tournament and parents should anticipate a positive improvement in baseball/softball registration.
“There is a lot of changes (baseball and softball) and I’m sure people will have a lot of questions,” Green said.
“I think in the end, you will notice a marked improvement from T-Ball to Lob Ball all the way up.”
The annual Dashing Through the Snow 5K was Dec. 10 in Morches Park with a slight decrease from last year.
There were approximately 300 participants last year and 127 this year. Typically, the event begins at 6 p.m., but plans are to move this event up to 5:30 p.m. next year.
“This year’s race was a little different, obviously, different because we didn’t have the Christmas lights up like we did in the past,” Green said.
“This year’s route went through Columbia Shores and back into the park which worked well and we got $1,300 which will go toward the water splash pad.”
On the other hand, the second annual Veterans Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5K in November has increased considerably each year.
“It (Veterans Marathon) went really well, but also raises issues as it gets bigger,” Green said.
“I don’t know what it would look like with bigger numbers — we are putting on a big event and it’s only going to grow.”
Green said changes will have to be made if the marathon continues to grow, plus businesses prosper as well.
Traffic along the country route is a concern with so many participants.
For safety, board member Kelley Sheiss suggested designated stops along the route. The board will continue to discuss safety issues for next year’s event.
With no Christmas lights displayed in Morches Park this year, Green and his staff delivered numerous lights back to business owners in the past four to five weeks. Approximately twenty display lights are still stored in Morches Park which Green would like for owners to pick up.
“Find out where the Whitley County Chamber wants them (lights) stored,” board member Mauri Bordner said. “Maybe mention a specific date on lights for people to pick up.”
In other business, two new batting cages have been purchased with funding donated to the parks department.
“We are waiting on the weather to put the new batting cages in,” Green said.
A much anticipated Morches Park sign, visible on U.S. 30, has been purchased and will be installed soon.
“The new sign is approximately 30 feet wide. Now we just have to put it up,” Green said.
Sheiss expressed her concerns on calls not being answered in the Public Parks Department, but rather going to voice mail service. It’s not a question of competence, but time available, especially during baseball registration.
“If we want the parks to grow we have to have people there to service them,” Sheiss said. “We can address temporarily by routing calls or maybe a part-time position for answering phones.”
Green agreed that a part-time employee could work 20 hours per week to answer calls so the answering machine does not automatically answer when staff members are with other customers. Depending on funds, this issue will be resolved in the near future.
The fate of the Burnworth pool continues to be discussed with Sheiss suggesting three examples of pool fees from comparable communities.
“The school board e-mailed to talk about the land they own which the pool is on,” Green said. “The school is willing to donate the land if we have a plan for a pool. This is all part of having a plan.”
Not wanting to get into an agreement or contract with the school at this time, the board continues to brainstorm ideas.
“I would like another vendor to get educated on alternatives,” Bordner said.
“We need to raise what we can first for the kiddie pool,” Green said. “If we were to raise a whole chunk of it (money), it makes it easier to get grants.”
As the program director for Leadership Whitley County (LWC), Sheiss explained changes to the internship format which could benefit the board.
“Instead of waiting a full year after they (LWC interns) graduate, the format is now Jan., Feb. and March, shortened to only three months as they are going through class,” Sheiss said.
With this in mind, Sheiss recommended Tammy Nicholson to serve as an internship with the parks board. Nicholson is the director of Whitley County Crossings Neighborhood. The board approved Nicholson.
Board president Michael Malcolm is resigning as a park board member, effective Dec. 31.
Next meeting is at 5 p.m. Jan. 24.

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