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NEWS

MAY 1, 2013 • FOREST HILLS JOURNAL • A3

Playground should open this summer lwakeland@communitypress.com

The Anderson Township Park District is asking residents and park users what they want to see in the nine parks they operate in the community. Possibilities include off-leash dog areas, public art, trail extensions and a dozen other ideas. FILE PHOTO

Anderson park survey coming soon By Lisa Wakeland lwakeland@communitypress.com

A model airplane flying area, covered dugouts on baseball diamonds or more off-leash dog fields. Those are a few of the amenities the Anderson Township Park District could add to its parks if users want these improvements and are willing to pay for some of them. Park District officials are conducting a survey to see what citizens want to see in the nine township parks they operate. The survey will be in the summer park guide and on the Park District’s website, both available in May. “We’ve been talking about a park improvement plan for years, and this is the initial step to get feedback,” said Executive Director Ken Kushner. “We’ve never done (a survey) like this, and it will go to every household in Anderson Township.” Assistant Director Emily Armstrong said they would also have surveys at different park events through the end of August and analyze the feedback later this year. “What’s most important now is capturing as many responses as possible,” she said. Additional restrooms, more indoor park space and paved trail connections have been frequent improvement requests from residents and park users throughout the years, and the Park District has funded the majority of its improvements, both large and small, through its operating budget or grants. But recent cuts to the Local Government Fund and the loss of the tangible personal property tax

have changed the funding structure since voters approved a 1.9-mill levy renewal in 2008. That levy is expected to generate about $1.8 million this year. How to fund any future park improvements is something Anderson Township Park District officials are still considering and have said would also include community input.

Last year they floated the idea of a capital improvements levy that would expire after a certain number of years. Park Commissioner Dale Bartholomew expressed some concern about multiple online survey submissions by the same person and asked staff to keep those separate to see how they might differ from the paper responses.

in ! Us too t i d s Vi woo n e K

In a couple months, area children should have a new place to play. The Juilfs Park playground is undergoing a major change – the first since it was originally installed in the mid-1980s – and the new playground should be ready this summer. Much of the main play structure is in place. It’s filled with ramps, climbing pieces, slides, monkey bars and other elements. Renovation began in November and weather caused a few installation delays. “It’s going to take a little time because (the playground) is pretty large,” said Ken Kushner, executive director of the Anderson Township Park District. “We hope to have this portion complete by midsummer.” The playground also includes a water play area, but Kushner said they’re still trying to raise money for that phase. The Park District set aside $380,000 in last year’s budget to install the playground’s main components and play structures. The silver silo that topped the original playground will be re-purposed as a shelter on the northwest end of the playground. There also will be two sand play areas for children, shaded seating areas for parents. Nanci LaGue, who

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Park District officials are trying to raise money to help pay for the improvements and plan to install an apple tree sculpture near the playground to list sponsors. Families can buy leaves or different sizes of apples, with prices ranging from $100 to $1,000. There are also opportunities for the community to sponsor different play pieces or structures on the new playground including shade structures, swing sets and other play units.

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regularly walks around Juilfs Park, said she is “really impressed” by the progress and pieces in place. She has a stepdaughter with two young children, and LaGue said she could see them enjoying the new playground. Elijah Price, 13, said he’d often come up to the Juilfs Park playground when he was younger and the new one “looks a lot different than what it used to be.” Even without the playground, Kushner said visitors are finding places to play around the park and he recently saw someone building a sandcastle on the volleyball courts.

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