A master plan for Garvin Park, the completion of Wesselman Park’s pickleball complex, and a new foundation to support Evansville city pools are among the Parks and Recreation Department initiatives that outgoing Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will hand to his successor, Stephanie Terry.
Interim Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Steve Schaefer presented a checklist of ongoing projects at the Nov. 15 meeting of the Evansville Board of Park Commissioners.
Terry, who won the Nov. 7 election to replace Winnecke, takes office on New Year’s Day. She has yet to name a new director of parks. Schaefer is leaving city government on Nov. 29 to join Garmong Construction as vice president for the Evansville region.
The condition of Evansville parks was a much-discussed topic in this year’s campaign for city government offices. A master plan for the whole Department of Parks and Recreation released earlier this year, as discussed at length in Evansville Business’s August/September issue, cites “community frustration with the state of parks” and makes a series of recommendations to improve their condition.
Here are some of the projects Schaefer says are in the works.
The parks board on Dec. 6 will be asked to approve a master plan that’s specific to Garvin Park. Schaefer says such a plan has been discussed since the Deaconess Aquatic Center’s opening in October 2021. Its first phase calls for basketball courts, a playground, and a shelter.
Garvin Park’s historic entrance fountain also is due for attention “and will be running in 2024,” Schaefer says.
The fountain has been struck by vehicles and is a frequent target of vandalism. Much of its underground mechanical equipment is original, Schaefer says. A community foundation grant is helping fund a protective fence and necessary repairs.
The 16-court pickleball complex at Wesselman Park is slated for near completion this year, with only some surfacing work lingering into 2024.
Three tournaments are scheduled — a grand opening tournament May 10-12, the inaugural Evansville City Championships June 8-9, and Wesselman Summer Open Aug. 3-5.
The newly created Evansville Aquatics Foundation will support city pools as well as promote swimming. Schaefer says there were plans for a Deaconess Aquatic Center foundation, but the organization’s mission was expanded to include all city pools, which have many years of use and various repair needs.
Groundbreakings are scheduled on Nov. 27 for a futsal court at Stockwell Park (futsal is a hardcourt version of soccer); Nov. 28 for Woodmere Dog Park near the State Hospital grounds; and Nov. 29 for the new Wesselman Park main entrance and connector roads project.
Construction on a C.K. Newsome Center community kitchen is scheduled to start on Dec. 4.
A ribbon cutting for Sunset Stake Park on the Downtown riverfront is Dec. 16.
More parks projects in motion for the weeks and months ahead, according to Schaefer, include:
- Lighting for more fields plus restroom improvements at Goebel Soccer Complex
- Work on a regional trails master plan, along with the Evansville Trails Coalition, I-69 BridgeLink, and officials in Henderson, Kentucky
- Replacing playground equipment and swings at Sheridan Park
- New bleachers for Tepe Park, Stockwell Park, Deaconess Aquatic Center, and Wesselman Park tennis courts
- A new shelter building for Sunset Park West, which will arrive in January
- New swings for Bayard Park, Stoplight City, and 11th Avenue Park
- Awarding a contract for building repairs at the Fendrich Golf Course clubhouse
- Resealing and striping the Mickey’s Kingdom parking lot
- A planning process to turn the Lamasco Skatepark into a bicycle park
- The initial phase of a project to add LED lighting, a new scoreboard and scorekeeper booth at Lamasco baseball fields
- The initial phase of a project to replace the heating and air system at Swonder Ice Arena
- Resurfacing Wesselman Park tennis courts
- The initial phase of a “Light Our Parks” project, which Schaefer says will improve the parks system’s security and overall lighting
Mayor-Elect working on transition
A call from Evansville Business to Terry was returned by Patricia Weinzapfel, who is assisting with Terry’s transition. (Weinzapfel is married to Jonathan Weinzapfel, Winnecke’s predecessor as mayor.) Weinzapfel says Terry is busy with the transition process and would decline for now to speak about the ongoing Parks and Recreation Department projects or other parks-related goals she may pursue.
Weinzafpel says that as Winnecke’s term winds down, Terry believes “the spotlight should be on him.”