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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS 2019-2023 PARKS & RECREATION MASTER PLAN

DRAFT Please review the Draft Plan and send ideas or comments to parks@troyergroup.com. Thank you!


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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


SPECIAL THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS St. Joseph County Parks Board: Larry Catanzarite, President Donna Pfeil, Vice President Dr. Virginia Calvin, Secretary John Ferrettie, Board Member John P. Gleissner, Board Member Thomas Panzica, Board Member Rick Kennedy, Board Member St. Joseph County Commissioners: Andrew T. Kostielney, President Deborah Fleming, Vice-President Dave Thomas, Member St. Joseph County Council: Rafael Morton, President Diana Hess, President Pro-Tempore Corey Noland, Vice-President Pro-Tempore Council Members: Robert Kruszynski Jr., Richard Pfeil, Mark Telloyan, Mark Catanzarite, Joseph Canarecci, Mark Root, Michael Trippel, Esq Parks Foundation Board: John Yarger, President Kyle Copelin, Vice President Pete Owsianowski, Secretary Andrew Sczcehkowski, Treasurer Board Members: Erin Bonin, Joel Bowers, David Deahl (Past President), Matt Kahn, Michelle Kuehn, David Fischgrund, James Goodhew, Marge Riemenschneider SJCP Director: Evie Kirkwood SJCP Deputy Director: Steve Slauson Friends of Bendix Woods & Spicer Lake St. Joseph County Parks Staff Plan prepared by:

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.0 Introduction 2.0 Parks Profile

2014-2018 Goals and Progress Made Parks Department Parks Board Parks Support Budget Programs and Activities

3.0 Context

Location Map Other Planning Documents Demographic & Economic Factors Recreation & Programming Trends

4.0 County Park Facilities

St. Patrick’s County Park Bendix Woods County Park Ferrettie - Baugo Creek County Park Spicer Lake Nature Preserve LaSalle Trail Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve Jasinski Canoe Launch Anderson Road Property

5.0 Public Engagement

Stakeholder Meetings Public Meetings Public Input Survey Results

6.0 ADA & Accessibility 7.0 Benchmarks 8.0 Needs Analysis 9.0 Goals, Strategies, & Action Schedule 10.0 Implementation Funding Strategies

11.0 Appendices 4

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


1.0 Chapter One Introduction

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INTRODUCTION Plan Process, Purpose and Scope

Master Parks Plan Objectives

The St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Board undertook this park master planning process in order to prioritize community needs, assure that the greatest benefit is achieved from each dollar spent, and expand funding and grant opportunities.

The primary objectives of this plan, the Parks Board, and Parks Department, are as follows:

Facility improvements and program recommendations proposed in this plan will be based on the following factors: • • • • •

An assessment of current facilities and programs Review of the 2014-2018 St. Joseph County Parks Five-Year Master Plan Input from the community at large and stakeholder groups Input from the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Board An evaluation of the present opportunities, constraints, and goals.

The proposed recommendations serve as a guide for the development of recreational resources and amenities for the next five years and prioritize improvements to the park facilities and recreation programs that will most benefit the St. Joseph County community. Specifically, this Five-Year Master Plan aims to accomplish the following: • • • • • •

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Gather feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, residents, and park users and report the findings in an accurate manner. Set achievable goals and objectives that reflect current issues, challenges, and opportunities as they relate to the current park system. Inventory and evaluate the physical condition of existing parks and amenities. Inventory and evaluate existing parks and recreation programming. Provide a guide for the development of park and recreation amenities that reflects the interests and needs of the community. Expand opportunities to obtain support and funding for the park systems amenities and programming.

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

• • • • • • •

Discover strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. Acquire input and gather support from the citizens of St. Joseph County and surrounding areas. Analyze information and public input to determine strategies, priorities, and an action plan for the next five years. Obtain Parks Board adoption of the plan. Submit a final plan to IDNR by April 15, 2019 and receive approval from IDNR for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Program eligibility. Identify opportunities to add or improve Parks and Recreation programs and amenities. Serve as a supporting document to secure funding for proposed projects.

Definition of Planning Area St. Joseph County consists of two major metropolitan areas serving a population of over 270,000 people spread out over 461 square miles. With such a vast planning area to cover, St. Joseph County Parks strive to provide public environments that meet expectations of high-quality facilities and services to all residents and visitors to the County. The influx of park users from across the region helps support economic development using businesses in nearby incorporated and unincorporated areas of the County. About 50% of the online survey respondents lived in a town or city in St. Joseph County, 36% lived in the county but not within a town or city limits, and 14% lived outside the county. To help address this, the planning area for this document includes strategies on regional connections to the entire county. This includes some communities in neighboring counties, and those across the state line in Michigan near County Parks facilities, for whom St. Joseph County serves as an important recreation, social, and economic resource.


How to Use the Plan The Five-Year Master Plan should be used as a guiding document for the future of St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation services. The plan sets forth the goals, action plan, proposed projects, strategies, and potential costs associated with improvements over the next Five-Years and beyond. The plan analyzes existing conditions, natural features, social and demographic factors, and many other contextual elements that impact the usage and goals for St. Joseph County Parks. In addition, public engagement provided a great deal of information on how people currently use the parks and how they would like to use the parks in the future. Results of the public input survey are included in the report and appendices.

identifies goals, strategies, and action items for the parks system, and where applicable, provides an anticipated cost range, time line for implementation, and potential resources or partnerships for the project. This plan also allows the County to be eligible for the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. The LWCF grant can be used to acquire land and develop new parks, or make capital improvements to existing parks. In addition to the LWCF, the plan increases St. Joseph County’s chances to secure other grants by having a master plan in place that is rooted in public input. Many funding entities are more likely to award grants to applicants that have previously gone through planning efforts for the proposed project because they know there is a higher probability for a successful project and a better return on investment.

The recommendations of the plan are summarized through an action plan matrix. This matrix

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PLANNING PROCESS Discovery

Analysis

Inventory and Analysis: The project team worked in a macro-level and micro-level approach to analyze the parks system and its facilities, amenities, and programs. Previous plans and studies were reviewed to gain a broad view, while analysis of existing conditions at an intimate level provided detailed insight into the condition of the parks and how they are used.

Analysis of Information Gathered: During the discovery and public engagement phases of the planning process, a large amount of information was gathered. The information was analyzed and combined into a thorough, yet easy-to-understand summary that was presented to, and discussed with, the Parks Board and other stakeholder groups.

Stakeholder Group Meetings: Early in the process, the planning team met with the Parks Board, Foundation Board, Friends of Bendix Woods & Spicer Lake, and Parks Staff to discuss the current condition of the parks and how the parks could be improved in the coming years. Discussions ranged from broad mission and policy goals to specific maintenance and amenity items. Facility Reviews: The parks were analyzed to determine the condition and maintenance needs, visitor experience, accessibility, and how the amenities aligned with other parks and the overall park system goals.

Public Engagement Pop-Up Engagement Events: Pop-up engagement booths were set up at several parks and community events during the planning process to seek input and spread awareness. This helped the team connect with approximately 1,000 people in addition to the standard public meetings and surveys. Public Meetings: Public meetings were held to give any resident an opportunity to provide in-person input. The first meeting was held on June 28, 2018 at St. Patrick’s County Park to gather input, and the second meeting was held on February 7, 2019 to present the draft plan and obtain feedback. Public Input Survey: A survey was released to the public and was promoted through the website, social media, flyers at libraries and other locations in the community, and via word of mouth. A total of 560 responses were received.

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

Meeting with Advisory Group: Two meetings were held with the project advisory group to discuss the plan process, the information gathered, and to determine how that would shape future goals, strategies, and action items over the next five years and beyond.

Envisioning After meeting with stakeholder groups and the advisory group, the vision and goals for the parks were developed. The planning team worked with parks staff to further develop the five major goals with supporting strategies and action items to guide the parks department over the next five years. Goals covered the entire spectrum of parks facilities, operations, maintenance, and administration. Strategies were aligned with the new goals, some of which were a continuation from years past considered integral to the parks’ continued mission, while others address more recent issues and trends that will be a priority in the coming years.

Implementation Finally, the process looked at ways to implement the goals and strategies to make sure St. Joseph County Parks can accomplish a majority of them over the next five years. Through partnerships, funding mechanisms, and leveraging available new and existing resources, the Parks Department can find ways to build on past accomplishments and create new opportunities for future success.


The success of one is not to be credited by one but by the works of many.

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


2.0 Chapter Two Parks Profile

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


MISSION

"St. Joseph County Parks will enrich the community and the lives of St. Joseph County residents by conserving and caring for significant natural areas, promoting understanding and stewardship of our unique natural and cultural heritage through innovative programs and services, and enhancing visitor experiences through wellmaintained park facilities."

VISION

“Continuing the Legacy of Greatness!�

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2014-2018 PARKS DEPARTMENT GOALS AND STRATEGIES

1 2 3 4 5 16

PROTECT AND ENHANCE NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES • • • • • •

Reduce invasive species Maintain pond health Landscape with native plants Control nuisance wildlife Restore stream shorelines Add park land contiguous to existing parks

• Seek opportunities to add park land in underserved areas • Foster green and sustainability initiatives • Quantify the environmental value of the parks’ green space • Develop interpretive displays and signage that tell the stories within the parks

ENCOURAGE AND PROMOTE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES THAT HIGHLIGHT NATURAL RESOURCES • Create programs that promote healthy lifestyles • Create fitness-related programs • Market to new user groups • Establish new program partnerships • Enhance entrance signage • Promote connections to nature for children

• • • • •

Design programs for the Boomer generation Create cooperative programs with ND-LEEF Enhance communications with teachers Promote partnerships with universities Develop adventure programming

PROVIDE FUNDING AND SOUND ADMINISTRATION OF THE PARKS, PROGRAMS, AND OPERATIONS • Enhance employee workspaces and environment • Expand volunteerism • Establish Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area in partnership with Department of Public Works

• • • • • •

Strengthen the Park Foundations Invite millenial generation into leadership roles Utilize grants to fund projects and programs Maximize revenue from programming Implement cost-saving initiatives Upgrade technology

IMPROVE AND UPDATE PARK FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT • Pave roads and parking lots • Create use plan for amphitheater • Upgrade picnic buildings and shelters • Update rental equipment, such as skis, canoes, life • Complete infrastructure repairs and jackets improvements • Develop amenities that establish parks as destination • Upgrade snow equipment sites • Update machinery such as bulldozers, • Improve accessibility and address upgrades as facilities mower, groomers are repaired and renovated DEVELOP AND ENHANCE TRAILS (WITHIN PARKS AND WITHIN THE COUNTY) • • • • •

Improve trail signage Develop surfaced and measured walking trails Continue work/construction of the LaSalle Trail Establish fitness trail Work with like-minded entities to foster trail connections and community connectivity

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


2014-2018 GOALS PROGRESS SUMMARY The St. Joseph County Parks previous Five Year Master Plan spanned from 2014 through 2018. In that plan, five goals were established for the Parks Board and/or department. A synopsis of each follows, with highlights of accomplishments on each goal. Protect and Enhance Natural Cultural Resources

(2017) St. Joseph County Parks received the Parks, Program and Facilities Award from the Great Lakes Park Training Institute for the partnership with the University of Notre DameLinked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) at St. Patrick’s County Park. (2015) A bald eagle pair established a nest within the park and fledged one young. It, along with a similar nest in 2018 at Potato Creek State Park, was the first successful bald eagle nest in St. Joseph County in approximately 80 years. (2015) Over 2,500 evergreen saplings were planted by staff and volunteers at Bendix Woods County Park for the restoration of the Studebaker Tree Sign, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Additonal progress includes: • Removed honeysuckle and autumn olive from old barn foundation with help of Boy Scouts (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Treated phragmites at ponds and parking areas (Spicer Lake Nature Preserve) • Brush cut around Studebaker Tree Sign to help define and clear out dead plant life (Bendix Woods County Park) • Cleared Callery Pear trees near 9-11 Memorial (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Nest depredation for goose control (St. Patrick’s County Park and Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park) • Obtained costs for goose repellent treatment at Pfeil Pavilion area (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Collaborated with SBVPA and Mishawaka Parks on goose control strategies • Cleared invasives and encroaching shrubs

by stream as part of Eagle Scout project (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Replaced doors and windows for White Barn (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Created Studebaker history interpretive display in Nature Center (Bendix Woods County Park) Encourage and Promote Outdoor Activities that Highlight Natural Resources

(2017) The interpretive team launched Tales to Trails, a literacy and environmental educational program for first graders with seven visits in the classroom incorporating a book and a hands-on habitat activity, and culminating in an outdoor session at Bendix Woods County Park. Multiple lessons with students effectively re-enforce science principles and build appreciation for local natural resources. (2017) A record 4,000 people participated in canoe/kayak or paddleboard rentals based out of St. Patrick’s County Park. (2015) In partnership with ND-LEEF, 18 national journalists visited from around the Midwest for a conference on climate change media coverage. Additional progress includes: • Incorporation of Boomer programs : Adventure Series in Spring-Summer and Fall Walking Series (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Added a “Featured Trails” tab on the website • Offered a 5k run / 3k walk in August each year • Partnered with the Mayor’s Bike Ride (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Purchased portable holes for foot golf • Established a trail running group (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Held programs including: Passport to Play, fall hayrides, Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, Disc Golf Tourney, WNIT Day in the Park, and Healthwin fishing for senior living community • Installed new logo signage at all parks • Expanded partnerships with Tales to Trails for Perley School and middle school activities for Greene School. TROYER GROUP 17


• Created several programs with ND-LEEF: Science at Sunset, Science Sunday, and various programs related to bald eagle nesting (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Enhanced communication with teacher partnerships (Bendix Woods County Park) • Expanded partnerships with universities • Incorporated Nature Play Day into Passport to Play series (St. Patrick’s County Park) • Hosted glow-in-the-dark disc golf (FerrettieBaugo Creek County Park) • Launched revamped website Provide Funding and Sound Administration of the Parks, Programs and Operations

(2017) The St. Joseph County Parks Foundation participated in Give Local St. Joseph County with 72 other area non-profits. Funds raised benefited the Parks endowment fund and the LaSalle Trail. The Parks Foundation ranked fifth overall in the number of gifts received. (2017) Partnerships were created and signficant contributions were made by Bike Michiana Coalition. (2015) Because of ideal weather, great media coverage, and a grant from the Hotel-Motel tax fund, the Sugar Camp Days in March hosted a record 3,200 visitors (Bendix Woods County Park). (2015) The St. Joseph County Parks Foundation raised over $86,000 during Give Local St. Joseph County for the County Parks’ endowment fund within the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. Improve and Update Park Facilities and Equipment

(2017) Constructed an elevated walkway to Lancaster Lake with a grant from I/N Tek I/N Kote (Spicer Lake Nature Preserve) (2017) Installed a new eagle cam linked to the internet at the active bald eagle nest (St. Patrick’s County Park) (2017) Re-roofed the Red Barn at St. Patrick’s County Park and the Van Paris Shelter at Bendix Woods County Park

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

(2016) Milled, paved, and slurry-sealed over three miles of roads and parking areas, providing a major face lift that contributed to renewed visitation interest to the park. (Bendix Woods County Park) (2015) Replaced four utility vehicles with new Bobcats with funding from the Cumulative Capital Fund. (2015) Key construction and maintenance projects included repairs to failed electrical and water lines, installation of a dry well, roof repairs, storage building remodeling, installation of babychanging stations, and trail bridge work. Upgrading facilities and deferred maintenance are ongoing issues for the County Parks with new items being added to the list each year while funding remains limited. Each year the department analyzes its biggest needs and assesses the available budget to determine which projects can be completed. Many of the action items still need attention on this list, but progress is continually made. Develop and Enhance Trails (within parks and within the county)

(2017) Completed the next phase of the LaSalle Trail between Auten and Darden Roads with lead support from Bike Michiana Coalition, the Parks Foundation, and the County Hotel-Motel Tourism Development Fund. (2016) Completed a 1/2-mile of the LaSalle Trail was completed between Cleveland and Darden Roads, including the installation of a HAWK Crossing, with support from the Dept. of Public Works. Additional progress includes: • Installed sign posts for Studebaker Tree trails and St. Patrick’s Tree sign • Obtained a grant for repairs to the park trails (Spicer Lake Nature Preserve)


The measure of any great community is the quality of its parks.

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PARKS DEPARTMENT The St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation system was established in 1966 with the formation of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Board. The goal of the parks system then and now is to provide facilities and programs to residents of St. Joseph County that reflect the unique natural resources in the region. St. Joseph County Parks’ programs and facilities are available to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, limited English proficiency, sex, age, or disability. It is imperative to prioritize diversity in the master planning process and provide facilities, programs, and operations that welcome all users. With 25 park staff members and decades of of experience, the St. Joseph County Parks department continually strives to enhance facilities and recreational opportunities for the

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

residents of the County that promote the rich cultural heritage of the area and the many natural features within the parks. The St. Joseph County Parks Main Office is located at St. Patrick’s County Park. The contact information is: 50651 Laurel Road South Bend, IN 46637 Phone: (574) 277- 4828 Website: www.sjcparks.org Email: stjosephcountyparks@sjcparks.org


Director Evie Kirkwood

Deputy Director Steve Slauson

Administrative Manager Kelley Herrera

Leisure Services Manager Jamie Hartzke

Interpretive Services Manager Leslie Witkowski

Operations Manager Carl Stopper

Facilities Manager Jacob Kettring

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF The Department is comprised of three divisions: Administrative, Park Maintenance, and Interpretive and Leisure Services Team. Administrative Team Role: The Administrative Team provides interrelated office functions and support services to the operations of the Parks Department and its staff. The team also provides customer service for program and facility information and reservations. Maintenance Team Role: The Maintenance Team is responsible for maintaining over 1,400 acres, over 100,000 square feet of facilities, and a large vehicle and equipment fleet. The Maintenance division is committed to providing well-maintained park facilities to enhance the visitor experience. It provides extensive program support and insight into each of the parks and assists in planning and development.

Interpretive and Leisure Service Team Role: Park interpretive naturalists and leisure services staff provide programs year-round for park visitors, school groups, college classes, families and organizations. With an emphasis on the wise use of our natural resources, the programs are designed to promote awareness of the natural world and lifelong outdoor activity. The programs drive attendance to the Parks and the related revenue supports ongoing operations. A sample listing of these programs can be found on page 62 of this document. The interpretive naturalists also design interpretive signage and displays, produce a printed quarterly activity guide, coordinate the Friends of Bendix Woods and Spicer Lake, and oversee resource management activities within the County Parks. The leisure services team also manages the parttime ranger and gate staff, coordinates volunteer projects, and supports special events organized TROYER GROUP 21 by outside groups.


PARKS BOARD HISTORY The Parks and Recreation Board, serving as the duly constituted agency, operates under the 1965 Indiana Park and Recreation Law (36-10-3). The board provides policy and fiscal oversight and direction for the department. The following purposes and objectives serve as a general philosophy for park operations: • Recreation is an integral part of society; therefore, it is necessary to develop and maintain a system of regional parks. The St. Joseph County Parks contribute to the quality of life in our region and help bridge the gap between municipal parks and larger scale state and national parks. The St. Joseph County Parks Board shall work in cooperation with other parks and recreation agencies and public and private organizations in the area to strive for a balance of recreational programs and facilities with a minimum of duplication. • Parks and recreation facilities and programs are engines of economic activity. The St. Joseph County Parks shall continue to contribute to regional economic growth by generating tourism and supporting a livable community that attracts and retains businesses and talent. • Recreation within the St. Joseph County Parks is defined as leisure programs and environmental education/interpretive opportunities. Through the development and offering of recreation programs, the Parks promote attitudes, interests, knowledge, and skills that encourage life-long learning, connections to the outdoors, and wise use and understanding of our natural and cultural resources. • Each park should be uniquely designed and developed so it exhibits its own character distinct from other parks in the system. Programs and facilities shall be developed in harmony with the natural beauty and physiography of the land, while incorporating best practices for landscaping, control of 22

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

invasive species, and wildlife management to support healthy ecosystems and habitats. • Establishing or maintaining important natural areas and areas of historical significance is an important focus for the Board. Where at all possible, only 20% of the land under Board ownership will be developed, with 80% left in a natural state. Additional land acquisition shall focus on property contiguous to existing parks or tracts of land of 100 acres or more. • Park facilities and programs shall be designed to promote public health and general well-being through outdoor activity and connections to nature. The Board shall establish rules and regulations designed to protect park users, as well as promote appropriate use and care of facilities. • To meet the ever-changing interests and priorities of the community, the park and recreation needs of the County will be assessed, interpreted, and expressed by a Master Plan to ensure directed growth, development, and consistency with these guidelines. The Parks Board typically meets the third Tuesday of every month. During these meetings, the Board receives updates on department activity, reviews the budget including claims and donations, approves policies and actions of the department, and assesses the position of the department for strategic planning.

PARKS BOARD MEMBERS Mr. Larry Catanzarite - President Mrs. Donna Pfeil - Vice President Dr. Virginia Calvin - Secretary Mr. John Ferrettie Mr. John Gleissner Mr. Thomas Panzica Mr. Rick Kennedy


PARKS SUPPORT ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS FOUNDATION

FRIENDS OF BENDIX WOODS AND SPICER LAKE

Established in 1978, the St. Joseph County Parks Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization (dba Friends of St. Joseph County Parks) with the purpose of assisting the St. Joseph County Parks Board in facility and program enhancement and stewardship of natural and cultural resources. The mission of the Foundation is to raise funds, build relationships, and inspire generations of park enthusiasts.

This organization provides support specifically for programs of Bendix Woods and Spicer Lake. Through volunteer projects, assistance with programs or special events, and with fundraising activities, members of the Friends are valuable contributors to the quality of the County parks and have been since its founding.

The St. Joseph County Parks Foundation has supported the parks in many ways throughout its existence. Many capital improvement projects, program enhancements, and parks events have been made possible through Foundation donations and in-kind support. Accomplishments include land acquisition such as the 75 acres adjacent to Spicer Lake Nature Preserve, improvement projects such as the Pfeil Pavilion courtyard, LaSalle Trail, and barn-themed playground at St. Patrick’s County Park, and events such as the Running Wild 5k run/3k walk held each August at St. Patrick’s County Park. The Parks Foundation Board has also worked with the St. Joseph County Community Foundation to develop an endowment for the County Parks.

St. Joseph County Parks has a variety of funding sources available to educators to offset the cost of park program fees and transportation costs for natural and cultural history interpretive programs.

Parks Foundation Board Leadership John Yarger - President Kyle Copelin - Vice President Pete Owsianowski - Secretary Andrew Szczechowski - Treasurer Additional members: Erin Bonin, Joel Bowers, David Deahl, David Fischgrund, James Goodhew, Matt Kahn, Michelle Kuehn, and Marge Riemenschneider.

PARK CONTRIBUTIONS

The Grant and Scholarship programs have become a vital source for area educators, as they are faced with budgetary constraints and restrictions placed on offsite experiential trips. School Scholarship Fund The County Parks provide funding to schools to reduce educational program costs by 50%. The funding is secured through private donations. Educational Supplies Program The supply program allows program staff to purchase educational items to enhance natural and cultural history interpretive programs, such as binoculars for birding, and science and art supplies for creative programming for children and adults. Transportation Assistance Grants The Friends of Bendix Woods and Spicer Lake fund a grant program to provide transportation cost assistance to school groups to travel to the County Parks for interpretive programs.

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COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS Communities are finding that partnerships are effective and essential for maintaining and building the park system and its programs. Partnerships take many forms and may be long or short term. Partnership support may include: • Donations (funds, materials, equipment, new amenities, land) • Volunteers (events, maintenance, administrative) • Programming, advocacy, fundraising St. Joseph County Parks has a long-standing history of working with the community to develop partnerships and leverage available resources. Parks are integral to the quality of the community, and many individuals, groups, and organizations enjoy being involved to help make the parks the best they can be. A partial list of partnerships includes: • ArcelorMittal • Apple Cider Century Ride • Better World Books • Bike Michiana Coalition • Center for Hospice • Clay Fire Territory • Davey Resources Group • HealthWorks! Kids Museum • Friends of Bendix Woods and Spicer Lake • Friends of St. Joseph County Parks • I/N Tek I/N Kote • Indiana University South Bend • The History Museum • Indiana Audubon Society • Indiana Department of Natural Resources • Joint Insitute for Nuclear Astrophysics at University of Notre Dame • Memorial Children’s Hospital • Martin’s Supermarkets • Michiana Astronomical Society • Michiana Watershed • NIPSCO • Northern Indiana Mountain Bike Association • New Carlisle Lions Club • Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility 24

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Orbis Environmental Consulting Orienteering Cincinnati Outpost Sports Pets Connect Shirley Heinze Land Trust South Bend Adventure Club South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society South Bend Brew Werks South Bend Fire Department South Bend Venues, Parks & Arts Studebaker National Museum Running for Life Southside Disc Golf Club St. Joseph County Health Department St. Joseph County Public Library St. Joseph County Soil & Water Conservation District Saint Mary’s College Strombeck Photography University of Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns University of Notre Dame Office of Community & Public Affairs University of Notre Dame Visit South Bend-Mishawaka Wild Birds Unlimited

• WNIT Public Television Through its “Parks as Partners” program, the County Parks provide discounted or free programming through donations and sponsorships or direct write-off to community organizations including Center for the Homeless, Jewish Federation, Healthwin, Logan Center, St. Margaret’s House, SOLO, Team RWB Local Veterans, the YWCA, and many schools. Volunteering in the Parks Many groups listed on this page and many other community groups and individuals provide volunteer efforts every year. In 2018, the total volunteer hours tracked was 3,300. At the rate of $23.73 per hour, as determined by The Independent Sector, the value of the volunteer effort equaled $78,309.


BUDGET REVIEW St. Joseph County Parks Board receives the majority of its funding through property tax levies. The Parks General Fund is used to finance day-to-day maintenance, and administration expenses. The fund is sourced by property tax, financial institutions tax, and excise tax. The County Parks also has a Non-Reverting Fund derived from user fees to supplement operations. In order to supplement the budget and maintain necessary services and operations, the Board may seek other revenue/funding sources, which include:

Budget development and review takes place in the spring and summer and approval of the next year’s budget occurs in fall. In 2019, the Parks and Recreation Board budget is $1,971,968. The budget is allocated into the following categories: • • • •

1000 - Personnel Services (Salaries/Benefits) 2000 - Supplies 3000 - Services and Charges 4000 - Equipment and Vehicles

2019 BUDGET PERCENTAGES $1,971,968

2014 -2019 BUDGET SUMMARY

4000 Series 5.2% 3000 Series 11.5% 2000 Series 5.3%

$1,804,741

$1,765,491

$1,656,348

$1,690,359

1,

60

0,

00

0

1,

70

0,

00

0

1,

80

0,

00

0

$1,776,133

1,

90

0,

00

0

2,

00

0,

00

0

• User fees including gate fees, program fees, and reservations • Financial and in-kind support from the Parks Foundation and Friends of Bendix Woods & Spicer Lake • Community partnerships • Grants and/or donations to fund capital expense projects

1,

50

0,

00

0

78% 1000 Series

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 TROYER GROUP

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3.0 Chapter Three Context

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MICHIGAN INDIANA

GRANG

NEW CARLISLE

SOUTH BEND

NORTH LIBERTY

WALKERTON

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

LAKEVILLE

MISHAW


CONTEXT MAP

GER

OSCEOLA

Totaling 467 sq. miles, St. Joseph County is in the north-central part of Indiana. Surrounded by three counties (LaPorte, Marshall, and Elkhart), St. Joseph County lies on the Michigan state line and is located 96 miles from Chicago and 140 miles from Indianapolis. Within its borders are the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka and seven towns. St. Joseph County has 13 townships: Centre, Clay, German, Greene, Harris, Liberty, Lincoln, Madison, Olive, Penn, Portage, Union, and Warren.

WAKA

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OTHER PLANNING DOCUMENTS As part of the inventory and analysis phase of the master plan, review of existing planning documents was conducted. Summaries of the findings from these documents are as follows:

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION MASTER PLAN: 20142018

and to provide a safe and efficient transportation system that meets mobility while not creating adverse impacts to the environment. The 2040 Transportation Plan addresses the following:

Information from the 2014-2018 master plan was updated to reflect the current conditions of St. Joseph County Parks, communities, demographics, etc.

• Policies, strategies, and projects for the future • Projected demand for transportation services over 20 years • Regional land use, development, housing, and employment forecasts • Cost estimates and reasonably available financial sources

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PLAN

According to the study, over a 24-hour period, 16.83% of people traveled for recreational purposes and destinations.

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year, short-range plan that provides information regarding the transportation projects that are federally funded in the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) region. The TIP includes projects for all modes of surface transportation including highways and streets, active transportation, and public transportation. Projects listed are developed in cooperation with state and local agencies. The plan offers 25 potential bike/multi-use path improvement projects that will benefit several communities. Adding/improving these paths will help to bring a variety of visitors who may not visit the parks by vehicular transportation.

MICHIANA ON THE MOVE: 2040 TRANSPORTATION PLAN Michiana on the Move is a long-range plan that identifies regionally significant transportation needs and issues in the region. It is a fiscally constrained document that includes a demographic analysis of the community as well as an examination of travel patterns and trends. The planning process includes an analysis of alternatives to meet projected future demands 30

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

SHIRLEY HEINZE LAND TRUST REGIONAL CONSERVATION PLAN The Regional Conservation Plan identifies land in northwest St. Joseph County contiguous to County Parks prioritized for acquisition for greenspace and recreation. The plan was developed in cooperation with MACOG, St. Joseph County Parks, IDNR, and other conservation organizations.


HISTORY, FEATURES, POPULATION, AND ECONOMIC FACTORS HISTORY Before any white European explorer had stepped foot upon the soil of the Old Northwest, the St. Joseph Valley was occupied by Native Americans. Several tribes and early native peoples located around the St. Joseph River. One of the earliest groups to occupy what would later become northern Indiana and southern Michigan as the Miami tribe. Later, the Potawatomi would move into the St. Joseph River Valley region, utilizing the rich food and natural resources along the river. The Potawatomi would occupy this region of Indiana and Michigan until the majority were forcibly removed in the 1840s. The first white footprint placed in the soil of northern Indiana was that of Father James Marquette, who traveled up the Kankakee River and across the portage to the St. Joseph River in May of 1675. One major reason the South Bend area grew in population was its location along the St. Joseph River. To get to the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes, the South Bend portage was the shortest overland route from the St. Joseph River to the Kankakee River. The Kankakee River flowed into the Illinois River and then into the Mississippi. This was the route used for centuries, first by Native Americans, and then the French explorers and traders. In addition to the portage, there were several other Native American trails that crisscrossed throughout the Michiana (Michigan and Indiana) area. The Fort Wayne Trail led from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Chicago, Illinois. Another popular trail was the Great Sauk Trail that started in Detroit, Michigan, went through Chicago, and then split into two trails in Missouri, later becoming known as the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. After the Native tribes, the first permanent residents of South Bend were the fur traders who settled in the area because of the rich wildlife

that congregated along, and in, the St. Joseph River. The first successful trader to occupy the St. Joseph River Valley was William Burnett. Mr. Burnett, from a prominent New Jersey family, was attracted to this area because of the possibility of great wealth participating in the fur trade. St. Joseph County is now the fifth largest county in the state of Indiana by population. The county includes a comfortable mix of rural cultural heritage and urban amenities. St. Joseph County is also the regional center for higher education with more than eight colleges and universities including the University of Notre Dame, Indiana Univserity South Bend, Bethel College, and Saint Mary’s College.

MAN-MADE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL FEATURES Founded in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is a private, non-profit Catholic-founded research university that has about 8,600 students enrolled. The university is one of the largest employers in the county, and according to a 2018 study, its economic impact on the region is $2.46 billion annually. St. Joseph County is home to many Local and National Historic Districts. The first Local Historic District established was the West North Shore Drive Historic District in 1978. Since then, eight other Local Historic Districts have been established. The many Historic Districts and Sites can be found on the IDNR’s State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database. Home to one of the most iconic symbols in the region, Bendix Woods County Park holds the record for the world’s longest living advertisement. The half-mile historic sign that reads “Studebaker” was planted in 1938 by the Studebaker Corporation totaling up to 8,000 pine saplings as advertisement for its nearby test track circuit. In 1966, the property was purchased by TROYER GROUP

31


the Bendix Corporation and with it the coveted landmark. Today, the sign includes just over 2,000 trees and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. To help restore and maintain the Studebaker sign, a series of grants were awarded between 2012 and 2015. The historic Studebaker Clubhouse is located at Bendix Woods County Park. It was built in 1926 and has gone through many changes, from living quarters for Studebaker employees, to army barracks, to a private residence, and now it is a nature center with park offices. It is a designated local landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

COMMUNITY ATTRACTIONS St. Joseph County’s urban center is the City of South Bend, which combines with rural attractions and recreation opportunities that help shape the community. The County has become a rich cultural hub of activity with museums, major sports teams, theatres, and recreational opportunities, with close attractions nearby. The following list are some of the top attraction destinations in the County. • East Race artificial whitewater rafting course • Four Winds Field - minor league baseball stadium for Chicago Cubs Single-A affiliate • University of Notre Dame • St. Joseph River fishing and canoe opportunities • Close vicinity to Michigan beachfronts • Potawatomi Zoo • Biking, hiking, and walking trails • Ice skating facilities • Nature preserves, bogs, ornamental gardens • Municipal and private golf courses • Studebaker Museum • The History Museum

TRANSPORTATION Located in the center of the “Crossroads of America”, St. Joseph County provides access to five major United States cities within a five-hour drive. The Indiana Toll Road traverses the County east-west, and a main arterial route (US 31) travels through the County connecting Michigan and Indianapolis. St. Joseph County also includes 32

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

a regional airport, bus line systems, and a major rail line to Chicago. Major Highways Indiana Toll Road - 80/90 US Hwy 31 US Hwy 20 US Hwy 6 Hwy 933 Hwy 331 Air South Bend International Airport Railway Ideally positioned on a major eastern railroad thoroughfare, the County has three Class I railroads, two shortline railroads and two interstate passenger rail services (South Shore and Amtrak). There is ample available development land adjacent to many of these lines, as well as several existing manufacturing companies that currently utilize rail. Railway - Passenger Amtrak South Shore (Chicago - South Bend)

“The County is renewing its rail system’s 20-year strategic plan to reduce railway travel time to Chicago from South Bend to 90 minutes.” - South Bend Tribune Railway - Freight Canadian National Norfolk Southern CSX Bus Lines Coach USA Greyhould Transpo (Intra-City) According to MACOG, in 2016, the most common method of travel for workers in St. Joseph County was driving alone (82.4%) and 1.8% of the population used public transportation. The public transit system is undergoing systems planning to find ways to improve efficiency and reach more people. Through better routes, shorter travel times, and improved accessibility, it is anticipated that use of public transportation can grow in St. Joseph County for both local trips and visit to Chicago and perhaps other communities in the future.


MAJOR INDUSTRIES

SOCIOECONOMIC FACTORS

From 2015 to 2016, employment in St. Joseph County declined by 1.77%, from 123,580 employees to 121,388 employees. According to South Bend Regional Economic Development, the top 10 major employers in St. Joseph County are:

Employment According to the Indiana Public Data Utility, the unemployment rate in St. Joseph County has continued to drop from 2014 to 2018. In October 2014, the unemployment rate was 5.8% and in October 2018, it was 3.8%, which was higher than the state unemployment rate (3.6%) at the time, ranking 23rd in Indiana counties overall. The estimated median household income in 2016 was $48,358, which is about 8% lower than the median income for the State of Indiana.

1. University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame) 2. Beacon Health System (South Bend) 3. South Bend Community School Corporation (South Bend) 4. St. Joseph Regional Medical Center (Mishawaka) 5. Indiana University South Bend (South Bend) 6. City of South Bend (South Bend) 7. AM General LLC (Mishawaka) 8. Honeywell Aerospace (South Bend) 9. Press Ganey (South Bend) 10. Liberty Mutual (Mishawaka)

Poverty Levels According to census data, 16.3% of the population in St. Joseph County (41,875 out of 256,660 people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 14%. The County’s largest demographic living in poverty is females ages 25-34, followed by females ages 35-44, and then males ages 6-11. Economic Development In economic development, quality of place and workforce development are two important issues in attracting businesses and retaining talent. Both rely on long-term planning in order to have optimal growth and success in the County.

Employment by Industries in St. Joseph County Data provided by: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/st.-joseph-county-in/

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33


Recently, St. Joseph County Department of Economic Development devised a list of action plans for the future growth in incorporated and unicorporated areas throughout St. Joseph County. Many of those big-ticket items were completed recently and help enhance the quality of life in the region, bolstering the appeal of St. Joseph County. The following are 10 economic development highlights for St. Joseph County (as reported by South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce): • $400M Notre Dame Campus Crossroads project completed • $45M Mill at Ironworks Plaza breaks ground (Regional City project) • $48M Roads and Bridges upgrades in region • Four Winds Field record attendance • The Ivy at Berlin Place breaks ground • Studebaker 84 & 112 Building upgrades (Regional Cities project) • JMS Building renovations completed • East Bank redevelopment (project at Transpo site and other various projects) • Sports Complex Study underway by Visit South Bend Mishawaka (VSBM) • Redevelopment of South Bend and Mishawaka parks (Regional Cities projects) The County Department of Economic Development had four major points of focus in 2017. 1. Advancing the New Carlisle area 2. Predevelopment and pre-planning for a project on the State Road 933 Corridor 3. Capital Avenue area investment 4. Study of rail development opportunities in St. Joseph County Although these four major points were emphasized, the County also put attention on towns and unicorporated areas for smaller projects. The following projects are examples of County efforts towards improving economic growth in these areas. Dixie Highway Economic Development Area/ Roseland/SR 933 Corridor • Worked with development partners along the SR 933 corridor to look at redevelopment sites for new projects. At present, two new 34

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

hotels will locate within the section from Cleveland to Darden Road. The project on the west side of the corridor will be connected to the LaSalle Trail. • Supported County Parks and Public Works to seek funding from the Council to complete Phase ll & lll of the LaSalle Trail. The funding approved by Council was from the HotelMotel Tourism Fund. Town of Lakeville • Worked with town and County Council for funding to purchase one of three parcels needed for Wetland Park project. Lakeville is working to finalize acquisition of third piece and then will be applying for an Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) grant for project design. • Worked with the town to examine corridors for trail connection to Potato Creek State Park. Town of North Liberty • Worked with the town to examine corridors for trail connection to Potato Creek State Park. Town of Walkerton • Worked with the town to consider rail park development opportunity with E&W Railroad. Rail park would be located west of town.

POPULATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS From 2015 to 2017, there has been a 1.8% increase in population with an average of .25% every year in St. Joseph County, resulting in a jump of approximately 2,000 residents. If this trend continues, the County’s could have close to 274,000 residents by 2023, which will require additional attention to the master planning process. With the rise in population, the amount of available open space in the County will decrease. Population projections pose a challenge to the St. Joseph Parks and Recreation Department in maintaining quality in overused parks and the need for future land acquisition to serve the community adequately. The success of parks is not only based on the amount of visitors they attract each year and the quality of places they provide, but how inclusive park facilities are as well. In preparing a proper


and useful Five-Year Master Plan, it is important to consider the ages of participants, as well as socioeconomic status in determining feasibly successful programming. According to Census.gov, in 2017, the population of St. Joseph County is 72.7% White, 13.6% African American, 8.8% Hispanic or Latino, and 2.5% Asian. In 2017, the owner-occupied housing rate was 68% with a median home value at $118,600. Median gross rent was $743. The average persons per household was 2.55. 83% of the households owned a computer, and 74% had broadband internet service. Of residents 25 years and older, 88% graduated high school and 28% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Fire Protection With such a vast area to cover, it is important that fire officials be located strategically throughout the county. Two career, six combination, and seven volunteer fire departments (with 33 total stations) protect 266,000 residents and 467 square miles. Public Works Public Works consists of engineering, highway, bridge, surveyor, drainage, and environmental divisions that serve unicorporated St. Joseph County areas. Some duties include responding to resident infrastructure concerns, maintaining roads and bridges, managing improvement projects, establishing regulations and controls, issuing permits, and reviewing development plans.

COMMUNITY SERVICES Services to the public are essential for any community, and having sufficient funds for all community services is a challenge faced every year by the County. As one of these community services, St. Joseph County Parks allocates availble funds responsibly and strategically along side these other essential community services . The St. Joseph County Police Department Led by Sheriff Bill Redman, the department has nearly 300 employees. There are four divisions within the department: Civil, Warrants, Jail, and Patrol. Officers from the Department are also assigned to several local schools, including Clay High School in South Bend and Penn High School, which serves Mishawaka and Granger. The department also has several specialty divisions such as S.W.A.T, a Dive Team, K-9 Unit, and Street Crimes. The Department has 116 sworn law enforcement officers. The Road Patrol Division runs three shifts; there are at least eight patrol officers per shift who are responsible for coving over 467 square miles at any one time.

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35


NATURAL FEATURES Climate The climate of St. Joseph County has an index score of 44 out of 100. A higher score indicates a more comfortable year-round climate, based on a comfort range of 70-80 degrees. The proximity to Lake Michigan increases precipitation rates and causes weather patterns to change rapidly. The temperature range for the county is between -15 degrees and 105 degrees, however, Lake Michigan typically helps keep temperatures more moderate. On average, St. Joseph County receives 40 inches of rain per year, which is comparable to the national average of 39 inches. The County’s average snow accumulation of 64 inches per year more than doubles the national average of 26 inches. Geology and Topography Geology and topography is a determining factor for suitability of land use for building, recreation, farming, or different types of development. Understanding the bedrock and soils can determine suitability and design requirements for building foundations. Different soils may favor farming or other use of certain lands. The geology of St. Joseph County is comprised of glacial till over older layers of bedrock from the Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian ages. This glacial till varies in thickness from about 50 to 300 feet. The glacial till consists of gravels, sand, and clay that is locally about 200 feet thick. This layer is the chief source of groundwater for the County. The topography we know today was shaped by the last continental glacier that receded through the area about 15,000 years ago. Material was carried away from the ice front by large streams of melt waters and deposited as stratified material, accounting for the multiple sand and gravel beds in the area. Soils St. Joseph County predominantly has deep soils over sand and gravel and is coarse and well-drained. These soils are comprised of loamy glacial drift and are coarse with a 36

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

medium texture. These soils are well-suited for development since they are typically stable and non-cohesive. The St. Joseph River and other low-lying areas have Gilford, Tawas, and Sebewa soils, which are poorly drained and are typically located in depressions and washout flats near flood plains. The flood plain areas consist of alluvial soils. All of the above soils are not well suited for development and should generally be reserved for storm water storage or passive recreational uses. Water Resources The St. Joseph River supports several of the area’s leading industries and greatly impacts South Bend, Mishawaka, Osceola, and Notre Dame. In 2016, the University of Notre Dame and South Bend Parks Board reached an agreement for the construction and operation of a hydroelectric generation facility on the city’s dam. With the St. Joseph River as the powering source, the turbine aims to produce a clean, renewable energy source. In addition to being a vital resource for the region, the St. Joseph River also provides the area with active recreational opportunities such as canoeing, kayaking, rowing, tubing, fishing, and other water sports. Nearly all of the area’s water supply is derived from wells that have been drilled into the glacial drift covering the area. This water is excellent in both quantity and quality and as a result the water rates in the County are among the lowest in the state. Flood Plain Floodplains are associated with the two rivers that exist within the County: the St. Joseph River and Kankakee River. St. Joseph River Tributaries: • Baugo Creek • Bowman Creek • Eutzler Ditch • Juday Creek • Woodward Ditch Kankakee River Tributaries: • Grapevine Ditch • Niespodziany Ditch


• Pine Creek • Yellow Bank Creek • Yellow River Invasive Species Invasive species in the area include honeysuckle, purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, and winged burning bush. Although sometimes viewed as attractive, these non-native plants pose a threat to the established plant life within the Parks system, suppressing native growth in certain habitats and diminishing plant and wildlife diversity. St. Joseph County Parks addresses the issue with educational programs, targeted treatments, management strategies, and volunteer removal efforts. Wildlife Management Because St. Joseph County Parks’ mission addresses its role in conserving natural resources, wildlife management is an ongoing initiative. In consultation with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the department employs various strategies to control nuisance wildlife when it is deemed the population exceeds the carrying capacity of the habitat or when safety concerns arise.

Deer management strategies are employed at St. Patrick’s County Park and Spicer Lake Nature Preserve where evidence indicated plant diversity was impacted by over-browsing. Due to health concerns related to excrement, Canada geese are controlled at Ferrettie-Baugo Creek and St. Patrick’s County Parks utilizing nest depredation permits for addling eggs. Beaver control has been implemented at Spicer Lake Nature Preserve where damage to trails and structures was impacting visitor safety. The County Parks also manages habitat to support a variety of wildlife whose populations have been threatened or diminished in the region. Areas of turf grass have been converted to naturalized fields and nine acres of constructed prairies are mowed or burned periodically to provide habitat for pollinators and songbirds. A nesting pole at St. Patrick’s County Park accommodates state-endangered osprey. To protect nesting bald eagles, Park programs are curtailed during the active nesting season. An eagle cam linked to the internet allows viewers around the world to view the nesting activity safely. Volunteers monitor success rates in eastern bluebird boxes located in several Parks.

TROYER GROUP

37


ST. J O S E P H C O U N T Y PA R K S & R EC R EAT I O N 38

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


4.0 Chapter Four County Parks

TROYER GROUP

39


COUNTY PARKS LOCATIONS LEGEND 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Bendix Woods County Park Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park Jasinski Canoe Launch LaSalle Trail St. Patrick’s County Park Spicer Lake Nature Preserve

MICH INDIA

8 NEW CARLISLE

1

5

NORTH LIBERTY

WALKERTON

40

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


HIGAN ANA

7 6 GRANGER

SOUTH BEND 3

OSCEOLA

4

MISHAWAKA

2

LAKEVILLE

TROYER GROUP

41


ST. PATRICK’S COUNTY PARK St. Patrick’s County Park was established in 1976 with the purchase of 105 acres, known as “St. Patrick’s Farm,” from The Sisters of the Holy Cross. The Sisters owned and managed the farm for the production of food for the Congregation and students at Saint Mary’s College. Dairy cows and swine were housed in two of the existing original barns on the site. Built in the late 1920s, the Red Barn is considered one of the oldest and largest Wisconsin-style dairy barns in Indiana. The adjacent White Barn and surrounding structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Red Barn is a popular venue for weddings and community special events. The White Barn (the former swine barn) serves as the administrative headquarters for St. Joseph County Parks. The Park has expanded to its current size of 398 acres through additional land purchases and donations. A 65-acre parcel was deeded to the

TOTAL

398 ACRES LIVE

BALD EAGLE

CAM

42

County Parks through a life-estate agreement with Clarence and Virginia Manion in 1979. A unique amenity on this parcel is the Manion Cabin built in 1919. Volunteers and donors converted the cabin into a weekend rental facility available to the public. St. Patrick’s County Park is home to ND-LEEF (Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility), a 33-acre site for aquatic and terrestrial research. The facility is open to park visitors. The partnership with the University of Notre Dame also generates outreach programs for schools and the public. A half-mile of St. Joseph River frontage borders the park to the east offering wildlife habitat and recreational access. St. Patrick’s County Park is a regional park providing facilities for hiking, crosscounty skiing, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, and picnicking.

LARGEST

HISTORIC WOOD BARN

IN THE COUNTY

ND

CANOE / KAYAK / STAND UP PADDLEBOARD RENTAL

TUBING HILL LINKED EXPERIMENTAL ECOSYSTEM FACILITY

PARK INFORMATION

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


MICHIGAN

KENILWORTH ROAD

LAUREL ROAD

ST. JO

SEPH

RIVER

INDIANA

AUTEN ROAD

TROYER GROUP

43


BENDIX WOODS COUNTY PARK The first park in the St. Joseph County Parks’ system, this property was donated to the newly formed Parks Board in 1966 by the Bendix Corporation and has its roots in automotive history. Originally part of the Studebaker Proving Ground, the site is home to the historic half-mile long “STUDEBAKER” sign planted in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The sign was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1987 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A hiking trail passes through the letters. The former Studebaker Clubhouse, a large colonial revival building, now houses park offices and a Children’s Discovery Room. Built in 1926, the brick structure is a designated Local Landmark and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park is a destination site on the Studebaker-Bendix Heritage Trail. In the southwest portion of the park, a 27-acre state-dedicated nature preserve protects a

44

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

beech-maple climax woodland showcasing a spectacular spring ephemeral display of largeflowered trillium. The preserve was the first nonstate-owned public land to be dedicated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. A 4.5-acre prairie created near the eastern boundary of the Park provides pollinator habitat and is a study site for area universities. A significant number of interpretive programs are offered at the Park, including wildflower and tree programs, bird hikes, pond studies, and maple syrup activities. Sugar Camp Days in March is the largest annual special event coordinated by County Park staff and includes tours of the sugar house, artisan demonstrations, a pancake breakfast, and children’s activities. Fall hayrides, a sledding hill, picnic facilities, hiking, and mountain bike trails round out the recreational offerings.


TIM OTH Y ROA D

STATE ROAD 2

TOTAL

195 ACRES

27-ACRE

6-MILE

MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL

5 MILES

OF HIKING TRAILS

NATURE PRESERVE

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

45


FERRETTIE - BAUGO CREEK COUNTY PARK Located on the eastern edge of St. Joseph County, this Park opened to the public in 1987. Land acquisition began in the late 1970s and included the former Mishawaka municipal dump. Today the Park has grown to 214 acres through acquisitions by the Parks Board and efforts by former County Commissioner Henry Ferrettie. Baugo Creek, a tributary of the St. Joseph River, meanders through the Park. A long-term lease by Indiana Michigan Power Co. to the County Parks protects 50 acres of marshland and island habitat within the creek. The creek’s name “Baugo” is a shortened version of “Baubaugo” a name given to the waterway by early Native American inhabitants in the region. Roughly translated, it means “devil water” referring to the creek’s rapidly rising water levels following heavy rains, a characteristic it still maintains today.

46

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

Baugo Station, a large two-story rental facility, overlooks the creek and Lake Osceola. The building façade is reminiscent of a fur trade post, and provides a reference to Baugo Creek’s historical use as a trade route. Park interpreters ply the creek in a replica 34foot Voyageur Canoe during programs on the fur trade. “Pioneer Skills” programs teach 4thgraders how to spin wool and weave fabric on antique looms. Recreational amenities include an 18-hole disc golf course and pro-shop, a small lake with accessible fishing access, hiking trails, picnic shelters, and a boat launch. In winter, the Park offers innertubing and snowshoe rental.


BAU

GO

CRE

EK

ASH RD ST

WAY EA

LINCOLN

TOTAL

214 ACRES

WINTER SPORTS

SNOWSHOEING INNERTUBING

18 - HOLE

50 ACRES

ISLANDS / MARSHLANDS

PUBLIC ACCESS BOAT RAMP

DISC GOLF COURSE

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

47


SPICER LAKE NATURE PRESERVE Situated on the Michigan/Indiana state line in the extreme northwest corner of the County, Spicer Lake Nature Preserve offers 320 acres of natural habitats ideal for hiking and wildlife observation. The original 40 acres for the Preserve was purchased from The Nature Conservancy by the South Bend Audubon Society in 1978, who then donated the land to the County Parks. Additional acquisitions continued through 2004 with support from the Audubon Society and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Due to its state-dedicated preserve status, the natural habitats are permanently protected including two lakes, Spicer and Lancaster, and most of the surrounding expanses of swamp forest and marsh habitat. The lakes are classified as “kettle-hole lakes� formed by the melting of blocks of ice left behind when the last glacier retreated from the region. Several state-listed rare and endangered species have been documented at the site, including

48

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

northern witherod and northern cricket frog. Sandhill cranes have nested in the wetland. During migration, Spicer Lake Nature Preserve is an important stopover site for birds and is a popular location for birdwatching. It was named as a Wetland of Distinction in 2018 by the Society of Wetland Scientists. A variety of researchers from colleges and universities in the Great Lakes region have obtained permits to use the site for research projects and class studies. Within the Schurz Visitor Center (built in 1991 and remodeled in 2004), is a wet lab and classroom space for interpretive programs for school groups and the public. Other amenities include a quarter-mile boardwalk through the wetland, a first-come, first-serve picnic shelter and the Pfeil family Trail, a crushed limestone path leading to an elevated observation deck.


MICHIGAN INDIANA

COUNTY LINE ROAD

SPICER LAKE

LANCASTER LAKE

AUTEN ROAD

TOTAL

320 ACRES

7 MILES OF

1/4 MILE OF BOARDWALK

HIKING TRAILS

BIRD WATCHING VISITOR CENTER

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

49


LASALLE TRAIL Originating in Roseland, the LaSalle Trail is a 3.5-mile paved bike-pedestrian section of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail (IN-MI RVT). The town of Roseland maintains the portion within their town limits, and St. Joseph County Parks maintains the trail from Cleveland Road to the Michigan state line. Phases of construction included 1 mile in 2001 in Roseland; .5 miles in 2016; and 1 mile in both 2017 and 2018. Funding for the LaSalle Trail segment was obtained from a variety of sources including Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), St. Joseph County TEAM grant, St. Joseph County Parks Foundation, St. Joseph County Parks, Bike the Bend, Bike Michiana Coalition, Michiana Bicycle Association, and individual donors. The trail was built on a section of abandoned rail corridor purchased by St. Joseph County Parks from American Electric Power (AEP), the

50

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

adjacent landowner. The trail connects a school, an assisted living center, hotels, and restaurants located on State Road 933, that runs parallel to the trail. The IN-MI RVT extends approximately 17 miles from Mishawaka, Indiana to Niles, Michigan. The trail loosely follows the path of the St. Joseph River. It is identified as a State Visionary Trail with the IDNR Division of Outdoor Recreation. Visionary Trails provide a backbone for connections to other trails in the area. The LaSalle Trail connects to the Darden Road Trail and the South Bend Riverwalk. Additional pathways in the County are linked along the IN-MI RVT providing access to over 30 miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Regional planning is underway to expand the INMI RVT to Elkhart, Indiana to the east, and Berrien Springs, Michigan to the north.


v

13 ACRES TOTAL

INDIANA-MICHIGAN RIVER VALLEY TRAIL

STATELINE ROAD

ST. PATRICK’S PARK

AUTEN TRAIL (PROPOSED)

BRICK ROAD

RECREATIONAL TRAIL

AUTEN ROAD

STATE ROAD 933

3.5-MILE

DARDEN TRAIL

30 MILES

H RIVER

ACCESS TO

DARDEN ROAD

LASALLE TRAIL

ST. JOSEP

PARK INFORMATION

LASALLE TRAIL

SEGMENT OF THE

MICHIGAN INDIANA

CLEVELAND ROAD

IN

OF BIKE-PEDESTRIAN TRAILS

DI

AN

A

TO

LL

RO

AD

AD

US 31

S

LA

UG

RO

DO

TROYER GROUP

51


BEVERLY D. CRONE RESTORATION AREA This 111-acre site was previously operated as the Jackson Road County Landfill. When the landfill closed in the early 1980s, the Board of County Commissioners obtained grants to cap the landfill and establish it as open space for passive recreation. Jointly managed by the St Joseph County Department of Public Works and the County Parks, the site features a 1.27-mile compacted gravel walking path that is also suitable for bicycles. To prevent compromising the cap, periodic mowing curtails tree and shrub growth and maintains a grassland cover. This practice has encouraged nesting of several rare and

52

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

endangered grassland bird species including bobolink, Henslow’s sparrow, vesper sparrow, and dicksissel. Indiana Audubon Society featured the Crone Restoration area in a 2015 publication, and the site has become a birding destination in late spring and summer.


JACKSON ROAD

LOCUST ROAD

LINDEN ROAD

LILAC ROAD

JOHNSON ROAD

TOTAL

111 ACRES

CONVERTED

LANDFILL TO

NATURAL AREA

GRASSLAND BIODIVERSITY

DEPT. OF PUBLIC WORKS

AND

JOINTLY MANAGED BY

1.27 MILES

GRAVEL WALKING PATH

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

53


CHAMBERLAIN LAKE NATURE PRESERVE This site is owned by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Nature Preserves and is jointly managed by St. Joseph County Parks. Park staff maintain the trail, small viewing platform, and parking area; IDNR manages the habitat. The lake basin is shallow, with little open water during much of the year. DNR ecologists have studied the site extensively and documented over 120 plant species in the lake, with 18 being endangered, threatened, or rare including oblong-leaved sundew and seven-angle spikerush. Sandhill cranes have nested there. The adjacent woodland has sandy soil and a 1.5mile loop trail terminates at a small observation deck at the lake.

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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

A tornado passed through the area in October of 2001, and knocked down most of the oak canopy trees, including the County champion red maple, dramatically changing the composition of plant life in the woodland.


CR

UM

ST

OW

N

HW

Y

CHAMBERLAIN LAKE

TOTAL

83 ACRES

STATE DEDICATED

NATURE PRESERVE

1.5 MILES

WOODED TRAILS

RARE AND ENDANGERED PLANTS

COOPERATIVELY MANAGED

DNR Indiana Department of Natural Resources

SJCP

St. Joseph County Parks

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

55


JASINSKI CANOE LAUNCH The Jasinski Canoe Launch, is a one-acre parcel on the Dixon West Place Ditch, located five miles west of North Liberty. The channelized waterway is the northeastern terminus of the Kankakee River National Water Trail, established in 2016. From this launch point paddlers can access roughly 133 miles of river and ditches. The trail is maintained by the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Kankakee River was channelized in this area in the early 1900s to drain portions of the massive Kankakee Marsh. The river’s headwaters are located a half-mile west of the

56

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

launch. The Marsh was once a rich wetland teeming with wildlife and was a popular hunting destination. Today, the surrounding land is agricultural. The launch is unpaved and is suitable for canoes, kayaks, and small boats. There is a gravel access drive and small parking area. No structures or amenities are present on the site. The launch area is jointly managed by the St. Joseph County Parks and the Department of Public Works.


AY

W

N

H IG

H

W

O ST

M

U CR

ES

NW

DIXO

CE T PLA

H

DITC

TOTAL

ONE ACRE

ACCESS TO

133 MILES

OF KANKAKEE RIVER WATERTRAILS

11 MILES BY WATER

TO KINGSBURY FISH & WILDLIFE AREA

SMALL BOAT LAUNCH

PARK INFORMATION

TROYER GROUP

57


ANDERSON ROAD PROPERTY At the northeast corner of the intersection of Beech Road and Anderson Road lies a 118-acre plot of land owned by the Parks Board. Future park plans have not yet been developed, but as funding opportunities arise, St. Joseph County Parks will look into future improvements that fit the mission of the parks.

58

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


BEECH ROAD

ANDERSON ROAD

TROYER GROUP

59


Unique Sites & Amenities

o s e p h Co u n t y P a r k s J . t S -–— —–-

Habitats

PARK ACRES

306 acres

S J C P A R K S . O R G

HISTORIC STUDEBAKER

Parks & Recreation

HISTORIC ST. PATRICK’S

Living Tree Sign

Farm Buildings

SPICER LAKE

1,300

EAGLE CAM

Boardwalk

ADAIR ORCHARD

33

9-11 STANDING TALL

& Catanzarite Grape Arbor

Memorial

State dedicated nature preserve

+

MILES OF HIKING TRAILS

235 acres

Designated wetlands

320,000+ Annual Visitors

FISCHGRUND

Living Tree Sign

Recreation Amenities

THREE Boat Launches

TWELVE Horseshoe Pits

FIVE Fishing

ONE

Disc Golf Course

TWO

Innertubing Hills

ONE

EIGHT Volleyball

ONE

Interpretive Amenities

SIX

Sledding Hill

Courts

ONE

Playgrounds

TWENTY-TWO Picnic Shelters & Rental Buildings 62

3

2

80

nd

ela ev

n Way Lincol

W

Lin

coln

NEW CARLISLE

Nature/Interpretive Centers

Nature Preserves

5

Hyw

Observation Areas

8

co

ln

Hw

y 31

CRUMSTOWN

Bird

E Colfax Ave

SOUTH BEND Lin

wn

2 3 3 6

Designated

90

80

NOTRE DAME

Wa yW

Western Ave

Crum sto

Registry Sites

1

2

7

ty

r be

H

wy

6

S Michigan St

20

Li

4 MISHAWAKA 20

OSCEOLA Linco

ln

31

1 Bendix Woods County Park 2 St. Patrick’s County Park 3 Spicer Lake Nature Preserve 4 Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park 5 Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve 6 Crone Restoration Area 7 LaSalle Trail-Roseland to Mich. State Line 8 Jasinski Launch

St. Joseph County Parks 50651 Laurel Road | South Bend, IN 46637 574.277.4828 | sjcparks.org |

60

Cool Partnerships

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

1 mile

Baugo Creek frontage

Hwy

Locations & Partner Sites 23

7

Ponds & lakes

Rd

Cl

South Bend Int'l Airport

15 acres

Constructed prairies

GRANGER Auten Rd

90

National Historic

ONE

Cross Country Ski Bike-Pedestrian Canoe/Kayak Trails & Rentals Trail Rental

Piers

27 acres

Old-growth beech maple forest

Bremen Hyw

ONE

Mountain Bike Trail

EIGHT PUBLIC PARK PROPERTIES

ST. PATRICK’S

Amphitheater

½ mile

St. Joseph River frontage

ND– LEEF

Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility @ St. Patrick’s County Park

Northern Indiana Mountain Bike Association Mountain Bike Trail @ Bendix Woods County Park


FACILITY ANALYSIS observation areas. Active recreation facilities include innertubing hills, a disc golf course and playgrounds.

The St. Joseph County Parks contain a wide range of amenities for passive natural resourcebased recreation including boardwalks and bird

The upper section of the matrix below itemizes the types and number of amenities located at each County Park.

Amenity Type Amphitheater Bird Observation Area Boat Ramp Canoe Rental Cross Country Ski Trails Disc Golf Course Fishing Piers Foot and Bicycle Trails Horseshoe Pits Nature Center Nature Preserve Parking Areas Playground Areas Restrooms (Accessible) Shelters Sledding / Innertubing Hills Volleyball Courts

# of Amenities in the Parks System 1 6 3 1 1 1 5 23 12 2 3 23 6 13 22 3 8

B CO EN UN DIX TY WO PA O BE RK DS V RE E ST RL O Y RA D TI . CR O O CH N N N A AR E AT M EA UR BE E RLA PR I F ES N L CO ERR ER A E UN T VE KE T TY IE PA - B JA RK AU SI GO N SK CR IB LA EE O SA AT K LL LA E TR UN S A CH N PIC AT ER IL UR L E AK P E ST RES ER CO . P VE UN AT TY RIC PA K’S RK

An analysis of park amenities system-wide can identify gaps and overlaps in educational and recreational opportunities for park users.

1 1

1

2 1

1

2 1 1 1

1 2 9

1

4

3

4

1

2 6

1

1

1 8

6

2

1 1

1

1 4

1

1

7

2

2

2

4

3

2

4

8

4

1

9

1

1

1

2

3

3

Festival Host Leisure Services Programs Interpretive Programs Wildlife Habitat River Frontage Park / Open Space Acres

1332

195

111

82

214

1

13

320

396

TROYER GROUP

61


PROGRAMS AND EVENTS The St. Joseph County Parks provide interpretive programs and leisure services year-round. Many programs are fee-based; others are available free of charge. Below is a sampling of programs offered: MULTI-SEASONAL OR YEAR-ROUND PROGRAMS Public Interpretive Programs A variety of programs are offered on seasonal topics for families, adult learners, and children. The emphasis is on experiencing the natural and cultural heritage of the area through hands-on, active learning. Some examples include hikes, photography, animal tracking, bird identification, spinning/weaving, maple syrup production, etc. Public Leisure Services Programs These programs are offered at several parks and are designed to foster lifelong outdoor activitiy. Some examples include learning to fish, workshops, canoe/ kayak lessons, archery, and geocaching. Story Walk ® Pages from a children’s picture book are displayed along a trail for families to read as they walk. Simple activity ideas accompany the book pages promoting discussion about the plants and animals that families might see within the park. The project encourages early literacy, outdoor activity, nature awareness and spending time with family. The project is a partnership between the St. Joseph County Parks and the St. Joseph County Public Library. Books are changed seasonally and displayed at different Parks. Outdoor Elements In partnership with WNIT Public Television, St. Joseph County Parks produces a nature show featuring segments on nature activities for families, information on plants and animals, and ways people can help the environment. Boomers and Beyond Focused on adults 50 years and older, these programs promote physical activity, social engagement, education, arts and healthy lifestyles. Seasonal oferings include walking groups, cross county ski clubs, and snowshoe hikes. School & Scout St. Joseph County Parks Interpretive programs are dedicated to helping students learn about their natural and cultural environments. Through hands-on, active learning, students gain a greater understanding of the importance of conserving natural resources and practicing sound stewardship. Teachers can select

62

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

from a menu of program offerings aligned with state curriculum standards, or a custom program can be developed by the Interpretive staff to meet the class needs. Examples of programs include: Ponder a Pond, Soils!, Natures Shapes and Sizes, Six-legged Science and Sugar Camp Safari. Programs can be tailored for pre-K children through middle-schoolers. Scout groups can request programs similar to those offered for schools. Events are also scheduled to help Troops complete specific badges. Geocaching This activity bridges the gap between technology and nature as participants search for hidden “caches” within the parks using a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone. Leisure Services staff maintain several caches within the parks and lead introductory workshops on geocaching combining respect for the environment with a sense of adventure. Mountain Bike Trails At 6.6 miles in length, Bendix Woods County Park’s mountain bike trail incorporates beginner and intermediate sections. The Northern Mountain Bike Association maintains the trail and hosts seasonal time trials and evening rides. Orienteering Using detailed park maps, participants search for checkpoints for competitive time or for fun. A seasonal course is set up at St. Patrick’s or FerrettieBaugo Creek County Parks in different seasons. Introductory workshops and advanced competitions are hosted at the site. Orienteering Cincinnati serves as a program partner. Disc Golf In addition to providing open play, the 18-hole disc golf course at Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park also hosts disc golf lessons and seasonal tournaments in partnership with South Side Disc Golf Club. A pro shop located in the Park gatehouse sells discs and gear bags. Canoe/Kayak/Paddleboard Rental The Leisure Services staff coordinates the rental of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for use on the St. Joseph River at St. Patrick’s County Park, May through October. Shuttle service is included for transporting paddlers and equipment. Participants can choose short (approx. 3.5 miles) or long (approx. 7 miles) trip options. Evening canoe rentals are offered on Thursday evenings in summer. Group canoe outings for businesses, clubs, churches or schools can also


be arranged. Special canoe events such as a Mother’s Day Paddle, or a Canoe and Brew trip are also scheduled throughout the season.

including games, crafts, hiking, kayaking, and learning about nature. Camps are available for children in kindergarten through 8th grade.

Passport to Play This multi-agency partnership series encourages families to try new outdoor activities including ice skating, kayaking, hayrides and more at parks throughout the County. The events are free and include a healthy snack provided by Martin’s Supermarkets. Partners include South Bend Venues Parks and Arts, Mishawaka Parks, St. Joseph County Health Department and the Reducing Obesity Coalition.

WNIT Kids Day in the Park In partnership with WNIT public television, this familyfocused event at St. Patricks’ County Park features games, a story corner, a nature station, disc golf, food and a visit from a public television children’s character.

SEASONAL PROGRAMS - WINTER Cross Country Skiing Ski rentals are offered at St. Patrick’s County Park. Trails are groomed for classic and skate-style skiing. In collaboration with adjacent Madeline Bertrand County Park (a Berrien County Park) trail passes are honored reciprocally at either park. Skiing Under the Stars opens the trails on certain Friday evenings for candlelight skiing, and snacks and music at the Manion Cabin. Innertubing Tubing hills are located at Ferrettie-Baugo Creek and St. Patrick’s County Parks. Each site has a warming shelter and a small food concession. The hills are staffed with safety staff and the department has modest snow-making capability. Special programs include private tubing parties and preschool innertubing. Snowshoeing Snowshoes can be rented at Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park to explore the trails on weekends. Renters can also try winter orienteering using a map to locate checkpoints throughout the park. SEASONAL PROGRAMS - SPRING Sugar Camp Days The annual festival features the making of maple syrup, music, Lions Club pancake and sausage breakfasts, and horse-drawn wagon rides. Over 100 volunteers assist with the event. It is held the third weekend in March at Bendix Woods County Park. SEASONAL PROGRAMS - SUMMER Outdoor Adventures Day Camps During Outdoor Adventures Summer Nature Camps, children experience a variety of outdoor fun

Wild Wednesdays at the Playground These one-hour public nature programs take place at St. Patrick’s County Park under the Jaffe Shelter near the playground. Running Wild 5k Trail Run & 3k Fun Walk A 5k Trail Run and 3k Fun Walk and after-party is held each August at St. Patrick’s County Park. The event raises funds for parks projects and programs. SEASONAL PROGRAMS - FALL Indiana Master Naturalist Indiana Master Naturalist (IMN) Program provides participants (18 years or older) with hands-on classes to learn about the natural resources of Indiana. The 11-week course provides instruction on soils, water, botany, birds, insects/spiders and taxonomy presented by topic experts and specialists. The series is coordinated by the Interpretive Services team in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. To receive a certificate, participants must complete an open-book exam and volunteer service hours. Outreach at ND-LEEF Notre Dame’s Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility at St. Patrick’s County Park is the site of several outreach activities for park visitors. Science Sunday, in fall, highlights research conducted at the site through hands-on science activities and demonstrations conducted by faculty and students. Science at Sunset is an evening series of presentations for adult learners. Members of Notre Dame’s faculty discuss their research findings in the outdoor setting of the Morrison Pavilion at the site. Educational programs for schools on freshwater science are also offered here. Public and Private Hayrides Hayrides are held at Bendix Woods County Park throughout September and October. Hayrides are also offered for schools and include an accompanying program with a park interpretive naturalist.

TROYER GROUP

63


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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


5.0 Chapter Five Public Engagement

TROYER GROUP

65


PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT Public involvement in the planning process is necessary for final plans to reflect the needs and wants of the public. In the end, implementation of the plan by St. Joseph County Parks should be well supported to effectively deliver a community-oriented park system. Community collaboration builds trust and invites successful master planning efforts. A successful public involvement process should accomplish several tasks: Acquire input about the parks and feedback on ideas, increase support for the parks, and expand the community’s understanding of what the parks have to offer. The Parks Board and other stakeholder groups are at the forefront of master planning progress, but it takes deep public participation to identify certain action items. Several methods of outreach were completed to involve participation from the residents of St. Joseph County to broaden the reach and impact of the planning process. This section discusses the methodology and results of the public engagement strategies implemented during the planning process.

66

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


TROYER GROUP

67


STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS MEETING FORMAT

MEETING RESULTS

Several stakeholder meetings were held throughout the late spring and early summer of 2018 involving key stakeholders groups with a critical interest in the parks. Stakeholders groups that were interviewed include:

Below are some common responses summarized from stakeholder group meetings.

• • • •

St. Joseph County Parks Board Friends of Bendix Woods & Spicer Lake Parks Foundation Board St. Joseph County Parks Staff

Engagement activities created by the project team were used as data collection tools instead of the typical question/answer forms or surveys. Each of the meetings were structured similarly, by breaking the larger groups into smaller groups. The first exercise obtained feedback through placing sticky notes on boards with focused topics. These topics served lenses to examine the Parks system; administration, people, natural resources, park facilities, programs and events. The second exercise looked at each individual park to examine issues and assets that exist within each park. Participants were encouraged to write down any concerns or thoughts they might have about the County Parks during the exercises. The topics worked well to stimulate a variety of discussing and questions by various participants. Following each exercise, a group spokesperson summarized input, which often triggered further discussion.

68

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

People • Increase diversity on staff and boards • Work on attracting more diverse user groups and underserved populations • Work to expand political support Administration • Increase staff as needed to increase offerings and maintenance capabilities • Focus on employee culture, professional development, and attracting talent • Create a marketing/promotions position and a natural resources manager position Natural Resources • Reduce areas that need to be mowed and plant more native species • Continue eradication of invasive species • Control the Canada Goose population • Stock the pond at Ferettie-Baugo Creek County Park • Add trails to access/observe natural areas Park Facilities • Re-purpose or demolish the amphitheater • Tackle maintenance backlog • Replace mowers and aging equipment • Pave roads and parking areas • Add unique amenities to attract new users Programs & Events • Upgrade rental equipment • Expand programs for diverse user types • Bolster partnerships with schools/hospitals


TROYER GROUP

69


POP-UP BOOTH ENGAGEMENT SUGAR CAMP DAYS St. Joseph County Parks’ largest event is Sugar Camp Days held annually in March at Bendix Woods County Park. Over 3,000 people attended the event in 2018. In addition to being a popular local event, Sugar Camp Days draws a large crowd from outside the county as well. On average, 30% of the people attending are from outside of St. Joseph County. The planning team engaged this diverse group of visitors to acquire input, promote the parks, and educate about the master planning process. Four project boards were set up in the nature center. One showcased County Parks facilities, amenities, and events. The next shared information about the planning process. The final two boards engaged people for feedback.

Using sticky dot, visitors voted on their favorite current amenities and those they would like to see in the future. On the other board, visitors placed sticky dots on the County Parks they have visited. Over 500 responses were received on the boards. In addition to the sticky dot feedback, visitors participated in conversations about the planning process and the County Parks in general. Through the process, some visitors were introduced to certain parks and amenities for the first time.

584

70

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

RESPONSES


ST. JOSEPH COUNTY FAIR Following the success of the pop-up booth at Sugar Camp Days, the team decided to make another attempt at the St. Joseph County Fair. The Fair takes place annually in late June/early July. Attendance is usually in the 70,000 to 90,000 range. While many people attend the Fair, only a portion of the overall attendees visited the vendor booth area. It was more difficult to engage with people than at the more intimate setting of Sugar Camp Days. Since Sugar Camp Days is a event held by the County Parks’, the people in attendance may have had more interest in the Parks to begin with. However, the team received valuable feedback from the visitors and had beneficial discussions.

The same boards were used at the County Fair as were used at Sugar Camp Days. This was done intentionally to compare feedback between the two events. Responses were fairly similar, other than the obvious difference that at Bendix Woods County Park more people indicated they visited that park and Sugar Camp Days.

423

RESPONSES TROYER GROUP

71


PUBLIC MEETINGS June 6, 2018 Public Meeting A public meeting to seek input on the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation system was held on June 6, 2018. The meeting was announced via legal notice in the South Bend Tribune, a televised announcement on WNBC, social media, and flyers at the County Parks. A total of seven members of the public attended the meeting, along with several Parks department personnel and Parks Board members. Low turnout could have been due to a preference to submit input through the online survey which generated a considerable amount of responses. A presentation of the master planning process and preceding engagement activities was made to those who attended. After the presentation, input was gathered through multiple planning activities. Attendees were given sticky notes to place on five boards with specific topics such as “people”, “facilities”, and “administration” to guide people. Aerial maps of the parks were used to encourage participants to write ideas specific to each park. February 7, 2019 Public Meeting A public meeting to present the draft master plan and acquire feedback was held..........

72

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


PUBLIC INPUT SURVEY Methodology

Key Survey Findings

The survey questions were developed by the project team in conjunction with St. Joseph County Parks’ leadership. The survey was designed and published online using Google Forms.

Some of the highlights from the survey and public outreach included: • When asked the amount of times per year a participant visits one of the County Parks, 50% indicated they visited at least 1-5 times a year. Only 6% (34 respondents) stated that they never visited the County Parks

To maximize input from a diverse pool, the survey was promoted through various methods and media over a four-week period in summer. A • St. Patrick’s County Park is by far the most web banner on St. Joseph County Parks’ website visited County Park. The responses showed linked to the survey. WNDU, a local television that few respondents had knowledge of network, highlighted the survey in a newscast and Jasinski Boat Launch, Chamberlain Lake on their website. Community groups such as the Nature Preserve, or Beverly D. Crone Young Professionals Network and the Chamber Restoration Area. of Commerce shared the link in their electronic • Respondents indicated they frequently newsletters, and it was announced in the South participate in the following activities at St. Bend Tribune. Joseph County Parks (five stars represent the Flyers announcing the survey were distributed most frequently used amenities and activities, at the County Parks gate entrances and key and one star represents the least frequent): programs, as well as at all St. Joseph County ***** Playgrounds Public Library branches. In addition to the online survey, a hard copy survey with identical questions was available at various Park events and locations and was distributed at service club presentations. The responses were merged with the online data and are included in the results shown in this master plan document. Duplicate online survey responses were prevented by the Google Forms survey tool which only allows one response per IP address. Survey Responses A total of 560 unique responses were received through the online and hard copy surveys and analyzed for their data collection. This response rate was much higher than the number of responses for the previous Five Year Master Plan, indicating the Parks department is reaching more residents and gathering interest in the County Parks.

***** ***** **** **** **** **** *** *** *** *** ** ** ** ** * * * *

Unpaved Hiking Trails Innertubing / Sledding Picnics Fishing Canoeing / Kayaking Disc Golf Sugar Camp Days Paved Trails Educational Programs Mountain Bike Trails Bird Watching Natural Playgrounds Cross-Country Skiing Nature Programs Geocaching Outdoor Adventure Day Camp Running Wild Trail Run Orienteering

The following pages go into more detail about the survey results. The full results of the public survey can be found in the appendices. TROYER GROUP

73


Public Survey Responses

BEST COMMUNICATION CHANNELS

74

21% 15%

SJCP Website Email or Monthly Newsletter

Local Newspaper Poster / Flyer

40%

PERSONAL

59% 45% 27%

Social Media (Various Outlets)

Word of Mouth

14% 10%

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

Local Radio Quarterly Activity Guide

How old are you?

39% 27% 22% 10% 03% 01%

How chil live in house

(18 and

49% WHERE

ANALOG

DIGITAL

Where do you get your information about park events and programs?

AGE

560

WHO RESPONDED

KIDS

PUBLIC INPUT SURVEY RESULTS

36% 14%


SUPPORTIVE

36 - 50 YEARS 51 - 65 YEARS 26 - 35 YEARS 65+ YEARS 19 - 25 YEARS -18 YEARS

many ldren n your ehold?

d under)

49% 36% 14% 02%

ZERO 1-2 3-4

Do you agree or disagree that St. Joseph County Parks is an essential service in the community?

81% - Strongly agree 14% - Agree 4% - Somewhat agree 1% - Strongly disagree <1% - Disagree

How often do you visit a county park? 1-5 times / year

6-10 times / year

11-20 times / year

49%

19%

13%

5+

21-40 times / year

12%

WITHIN COUNTY

(BUT NOT IN A CITY OR TOWN)

OUTSIDE ST. JOSEPH COUNTY

WHY NOT

WITHIN A CITY OR TOWN IN SJC

Never

6%

34% - Not Applicable 28% - Lack of time 24% - Visit other parks 19% - Too far 6% - Program fees are too expensive 3% - Poor health/mobility 2% - Accessibility within parks and programs 1% - I am not interested in parks TROYER GROUP

75


MOST POPULAR AMENITIES AND ACTIVITIES

FAVORITE PARK

Which County Parks have you visited in the last year?

78% - St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 48% - Bendix Woods 25% - Ferrettie-Baugo Creek 16% - Spicer Lake Nature Preserve 10% - LaSalle Trail segment of the River Valley 07% - I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t visit any of the parks 04% - Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area 03% - Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve 03% - Jasinski Canoe Launch

FAVORITE ACTIVITY

If you were promoting the County Parks to a friend or family member, which of the following would be a part of this promotion?

70% - Park amenities 68% - Natural areas enjoyment 58% - Parks programs 52% - Spending time with family 46% - Well-maintained facilities 43% - Health and wellness benefits 36% - Stewardship of natural areas 32% - Special events 26% - Value for your time and recreation dollar 25% - Educational opportunities

76

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?

What new, renovated, or expanded park facilities should St. Joseph County Parks focus on in the next 5 years?

42% - Expand paved trails 42% - Natural playgrounds 40% - New unpaved trails 37% - Develop new park sites 35% - Native plant gardens 32% - Conserve / Preserve 30% - Repair aging infrastructure 27% - Add or upgrade restroom facilities 26% - Tent camping areas 26% - Canoe/Kayak launches 25% - Signage interpreting nature or history 24% - Acquire new property for parks 22% - No leash dog park 20% - Recreation games 19% - Traditional playgrounds 15% - More/improved picnic shelters 15% - BMX track/more mountain bike trails 14% - Fishing access What programs and activities would you like St. Joseph County Parks to enhance or add in the next five years?

TROYER GROUP

77


FACILITY PRIORITIES

Control geese population Stock pond at FBC Improve climate control in buildings Pave roads and parking lots New equipment Add directional signage

78

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


FUNDING

$$$$$ How important is it for St. Joseph County to invest more money in the County Parks?

73% - Very important 21% - Somewhat important 04% - No preference 01% - Not important

SUPPORT FOR VARIOUS FUNDING APPROACHES

With reduced budgets and limited property tax support, how should St. Joseph County Parks adjust its services and accomodate its operations? INCREASE SHARE OF COUNTY BUDGET 58% DEVELOP HIGHER REVENUE PRODUCING ACTIVITIES 45% COUNTY BONDS 44% INCREASE USER FEES 32% COUNTY OPTION INCOME TAX (COIT) 30% 3% - Reduce park hours 3% - Sell park properties 2% - Close parks 1% - Reduce park programs and services

TROYER GROUP

79


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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


6.0 Chapter Six ADA & Accessibility

TROYER GROUP

81


82

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


ACCESSIBILITY REVIEW ADA AND DISABILITY OVERVIEW The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect January 26, 1992 and is aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilites. The passage of ADA guarantees that access to recreation and play settings is now a civil right for all Americans. According to the 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, about 13% of the population has a disability. The report defines a person as having a disability if they are deaf or serious hearing deficiency, blind or serious sight deficiency with glasses, difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, difficulty dressing or bathing, difficulty doing errands alone due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition. Other report findings include: • The percentage of those with a disability in the U.S. civilian population slowly increased from 11.9% to 12.8% in 2016. • Disability increases sharply with age. For ages 5-17, only 5.6% had a disability, for ages 1864, the rate was 10.6%, for ages 65+, the rate was 35.2%. • In 2016, 38.9% of people ages 18 and over with disabilities were obese. In comparison, only 26.4% of those without disabilities were obese. • In the U.S. in 2016, 35.9% of people with disabilities ages 18-64 living in the community were employed. The employment percentage was more than double for people without disabilities at 76.6%.

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARK SYSTEM ACCESSIBILITY OVERVIEW During the preparation of this plan, an overall accessibility review of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation was conducted. It is the goal of the department to offer barrier-free facilities, programs, and services inclusive of all users. St. Joseph County has an ADA Transition Plan, but there is little information pertaining to the Parks in that plan. In order to better analyze accessibility in the parks, the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) performed an accessibility audit of parks facilities in 2016. This process provided an extensive inventory of the parks facilities in regards to accessibility. The MACOG audit used a checklist and standard accessibility forms to determine dimensions, clear spaces, heights, and other important factors for accessibility in the park facilities. The entire document is saved on file in the parks office. In general, most parks facilities meet the requirements of ADA accessibility, but there are certain locations and amenities that need improvements to provide better accessibility. These improvements should be integrated into the planning of future needs and capital projects. If a capital improvement project is completed, the improvements must meet ADA requirements. Other ADA improvements should be prioritized and completed as resources become available. In addition to reviewing the accessibility of physical amenities, communication practices were also reviewed. Information about the Park system and its accessible amenities should be added to the website, along with a grievance policy and contact information. The ADA Coordinator for St. Joseph County is Jamie Woods. The ADA contact for the St. Joseph County Parks is Kelley Herrera.

TROYER GROUP

83


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St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


7.0 Chapter Seven Benchmarks

TROYER GROUP

85


COMMUNITY BENCHMARKING INTRODUCTION

The purpose of benchmarking is to assist the planning team in setting goals and generating ideas for parks and recreation facilities in the County. The benchmarking study provides an exploration of the parks and recreation facilities and structure of counties comparable to St. Joseph County. The main purpose is to assist St. Joseph County in finding comparisons for measurement and setting standards. By delineating the parks and recreation system of any one of the benchmark counties, St. Joseph can compare, contrast, and plan its future facilities and programs in a measurable context. The benchmark counties in this study were chosen because of their comparable context of being fairly large counties located on a river or near a river and/or nearby expressways. Another factor that was considered in choosing the benchmark counties was population and potential population growth.

METHODOLOGY Data for the benchmarking was acquired through review of several peer agencies. Some data was not available through research or through the National Parks and Recreationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (NRPA) Park Metrics database, formerly PRORAGIS. The data being collected was acquired from park agency websites, park master plans, phone conversations, or other online sources such as news articles. The information that was acquired for each agency will vary based on the methods in which the agency collects and maintains the data.

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BENCHMARK COUNTIES Allen County is in the northeastern part of Indiana on the Ohio state line. It is about 100 miles from St. Joseph County with two major highways running through it: US 30 and Interstate 69. Allen County has about 100,000 more residents than St. Joseph County. Elkhart County is located in north central Indiana just west of St. Joseph County and shares the St. Joseph River as a natural resource. It has about 65,000 fewer residents than St. Joseph County. Hamilton County is in central Indiana and borders Indianapolis to the northeast. It has two main thoroughfares, (US 31 and Interstate 69), and the White River flows through the county. There are about 50,000 more residents than St. Joseph County. Hamilton County has eleven parks totaling 1,420 acres. Vandenburgh County is in Southern Indiana on the Ohio River. The Wabash River runs to the west of the county and Interstate 64 and 69 run along the border. There are about 90,000 fewer residents than in St. Joseph County.


ANALYSIS OF BENCHMARKING ACREAGE The system acreage analysis looks at the acreage of each parks system and compares it to the total number of residents in the county to determine the amount of parkland available per 1,000 residents. Three of the four agencies have a very similar amount of acreage per 1,000 residents. Vanderburgh County was the outlier with a much smaller acreage. St. Joseph County is comparable to the other two counties in total acreage and acreage per 1,000 residents.

park is programmed with more amenities than many of the other parks in the benchmarking analysis. At eight parks, St. Joseph County is in line with the other benchmarking communities. NUMBER OF AMENITIES Most of the county parks in the benchmarking study focus on passive recreation and providing access to natural areas. Some parks included amenities such as ball 1fields, pools, and playgrounds, but most commonly parks had trails, shelters, and restrooms. For most amenities, St. Joseph County had more than or a similar amount to the other county parks agencies.

NUMBER OF FACILITIES Three of the four parks agencies had between 8 and 12 parks facilities. Vanderburgh County was the outlier with only one park, but that

St. Joseph

Vanderburgh

Elkhart

Hamilton

270,434

181,721

203,781

323,747

Total Acreage (est.)

1,332

170

1,120

1,589

Acreage per 1,000 residents

4.93

0.94

5.5

4.91

No. of Park Facilities

8

1

9

12

Ball fields

0

2

0

6

Playgrounds

6

2

2

7

Basketball Courts

0

1

0

1

Soccer Fields

0

0

2

2

Volleyball Courts

8

2

0

2

Multi‐Use/Walking Trails (mi)

33

32

40

19

Pools/Splash Pads

0

3

0

0

Amphitheater

1

1

0

2

Boat Launch

5

1

2

7

Groomed Cross Country Skiing Trails

1

0

3

0

Nature Center

2

1

1

1

Campgrounds

0

1 (28 sites)

0

1 (106 sites)

Fishing Piers

5

1

6

9

Nature Preserve

2

0

3

1

Restrooms

13

12

6

7

Parking Areas

23

10

9

13

Population

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8.0 Chapter Eight Needs Analysis

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NEEDS ANALYSIS & LEVEL OF SERVICE STANDARDS “Successful, functional parks are those under intense use by a diverse set of companies and residents.” Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities

PARK ACREAGE LEVEL OF SERVICE STANDARDS

Review of the Indiana Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) guidelines for recreation lands in St. Joseph County is inconclusive.1 These guidelines recommend 20 acres of recreation lands per 1,000 population at the local or county level. St. Joseph County has roughly 270,000 residents, so for SCORP’s recommended level of service, this equates to 5,400 acres of park land. St. Joseph County Parks have about 1,400 acres of park land, so by itself, St. Joseph County falls short of the recommended level by 3,900 acres. However, when combined with other parks in the county, including South Bend and Mishawaka parks systems, St. Joseph County is close to the recommended acreage. In addition to the county and city parks, St. Joseph is home to the 3,480acre Potato Creek State Park.

LEVEL OF SERVICE ANALYSIS

To better understand the impact of both the existing park system as well as the relative success of its strategies to implement the overall goals, this Master Plan process employed contextual measurement techniques that collected quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative methodologies, which rely on numbers to report results, included the surveys and dot activity boards, census research, as well as the geographic and spatial analysis of the parks themselves. Quantitative data collection tactics included group dialogue at all 1  The full up-to-date SCORP report can be found at IN.gov website located in the IDNR webpages and downloaded as a pdf. 2  NRPA Park Metrics can be found at https://www.nrpa.org/publications-research/ParkMetrics/

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stakeholder and public meetings, fill-in options on the surveys, and the use of sticky notes in our planning exercises. Referencing this data against itself, the Project Team determined reliability and validity of the responses. This information can then be used to verify existing County Parks Level-of-Service (LOS) successes and gaps, using three typical metrics: system acreage, amenities, and access. Common in the public sector, civic departments and agencies utilize LOS standards to plan and monitor the quality of services provided to their constituents. A common example of this is the LOS roadway scores that transportation engineers and planners use to categorize traffic flow. “Grades” are assigned to roadways based on speed, density, and other performance measures. In all cases, these metrics tell only part of the overall story, emphasizing the need for reframing the measures of success that do not directly relate to parks (economics, for instance) as well as multiple source validation of the data collected. NRPA Park Metrics, formerly PRORAGIS, offers data standards and insights for park and recreation agencies. Based on the 2018 NRPA Agency Performance Review Key Findings, the typical park and recreation agency offers: 2 • One park for every 2,114 residents served • 10.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents • Operating expenditure per capita of $78.26/ Year • Revenue-To-Operating expenditure of 28% • 7.9 full-time equivalent employees per 10,000 residents In spite of this information, determining LOS standards for parks and recreation systems can be challenging for several reasons. • Parks and recreation systems can be measured in different ways. (Parkland acreage,


numbers of recreation facilities, distance to parks and facilities, qualities of parks and facilities, operating costs, revenues, etc.). • LOS metrics differ between various components of a parks system (trail versus nature preserve). • Appropriate LOS standards may also differ based on the community context. (Proximity to urbanized or rural areas). • Type of park (local park vs regional park) With this in mind, the NRPA also notes that the diversity of communities and their park systems does not necessarily lend to comparing different systems against each other. More specifically, the recommendation is that benchmarking internal data will most optimally serve St. Joseph County. ACREAGE LEVEL OF SERVICE Acreage LOS evaluates the total amount of park acreage a community has when compared with its current and projected population (expressed in acres per 1,000 residents). This technique is often one of the most widely utilized due to its ease of calculation. It is generally regarded that the higher the acreage LOS, the higher the quality of life enjoyed by the community’s residents.

AMENITIES LEVEL OF SERVICE Amenity LOS expresses equal opportunity through the availability of recreation facilities within a community when compared with its population. While analyzing amenities is important, the focus of St. Joseph County Parks has always been heavier on connecting people to its natural resources through passive recreation and programs, rather than providing active recreation amenities that are readily available in many of the city parks within the county. SCORP Benchmarks and National Park Metrics (formerly PRORAGIS) show that St. Joseph County Parks are lacking in many types of amenities when compared to state recreation standards, but perhaps this is a situation that level of service is best analyzed on a more contextual basis. Focusing on unique amenities not offered by county parks and providing a balance of amenities throughout the County Parks that will both attract users and provide equity in parks offerings would be a good strategy to employ.

City, town, and other privately owned recreation spaces would reduce the county’s overall deficiency, but only for the population that has access to them. The public survey and other data collected during this process suggests that priorities for additional parkland include developing the Anderson Road property, extending trails, adding land contiguous to existing parks, and expanding toward the underserved areas of St. Joseph County.

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ACCESS LEVEL OF SERVICE Access LOS is used to analyze the distance residents must travel to utilize parks and recreation facilities within the County. Driven by priorities of reaching underserved populations and also battling issues of perception, St. Joseph County Parks must determine acceptable and/or aspirational distances based on its existing and proposed transportation network, as well as its goals for multimodal access. Based on feedback received by the Public Input Survey and additional stakeholder group input, access to the parks was a perceived barrier to people using parks more frequently. The Project Team analyzed access to County Parks determining that most residents have access to a City or County Park within a 10-minute drive. Residents living in the southern part of the

county do not have as convenient access to a County Park. However, Potato Creek State Park is located in the southern part of the county and the population density is far less in the southern part of the county. While there may be financial and operational problems associated with adding park land in the southern part of the county, the Parks Board should consider adding park land strategically if the proper opportunity arises. Categorizing the Parks based on acreage, types of amenities available, and programs offered, the access to the parks is reasonable and consistent with other similar counties in Indiana. However, a perceived issue of travel distance to County Parks is present, so if a higher LOS is desired, additional parks, trails, and greenways/blueways will be needed to improve County resident access and perception.

Blue dots indicate County parks. Blue circles represent a five-mile radius. Orange dots indicate South Bend parks. Green dots indicate Mishawaka parks. Orange & green circles represent a two-mile radius.

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9.0 Chapter 9 Goals, Strategies, & Action Items

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS 2019-2023 GOALS The five goals identified in the following section define the over-arching direction for the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Department for the next five years. The goals focus on short-term and long-term approaches spanning all facets of the parks system from natural resources to administration and facilities. Also outlined are specific strategies to achieve each goal. These goals and strategies were defined through the master planning process. They: • Reflect the department's mission and philosophy • Respond to the expressed needs and desires of the community • Align with important feedback from parks staff, parks board, and stakeholder groups • Respond to the anticipated constraints and opportunities for the next five years While many of the strategies in this section can be funded with the current and projected operating budget, others will require other funding sources such as grants and/or donations to achieve. The Action Plan which follows assigns a proposed time line and potential funding sources for each strategy.

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS 2019-2023 GOALS AND STRATEGIES SJCP 2019-2023 Draft Goals and Strategies

1 2 3 4 5

Protect and Enhance County Natural and Cultural Resources 1.1 Reduce invasive and non-native species 1.2 Control nuisance wildlife 1.3 Enact sustainability initiatives throughout all programming, maintenance, and development efforts 1.4 Protect and maintain health of local water resources and contributing areas 1.5 Protect and maintain health of existing park natural and cultural resources 1.6 Add park land where it aligns with St. Joseph County Parks' goals and values Reinforce Activities and Programs that Highlight the Connection Between Nature, Public Health, and/or Economic Development 2.1 Create/evaluate programs that combine nature and the different facets of health 2.2 Create and maintain partnerships for planning and initiatives 2.3 Create/maintain partnerships for programs, activities, and events 2.4 Promote/market activities, programs, and events that emphasize this goal 2.5 Upgrade and implement new technology Develop Administration, Staffing, and Succession Plan(s) 3.1 Create a training and development plan for leadership and staff 3.2 Develop strategies for the Parks Foundation Board and future Parks Boards 3.3 Focus on employee culture 3.4 Expand volunteerism strategically 3.5 Relieve stressed staff positions 3.6 Leverage new and existing revenue streams Improve and Update Existing Park Facilities and Equipment 4.1 Upgrade buildings and shelters 4.2 Develop plan for re-use or demolition of amphitheater 4.3 Maintain roads and utility Infrastructure 4.4 Purchase new vehicles and equipment for maintenance and other park-related activities 4.5 Improve accessibility and universal design implementation 4.6 Develop new, unique amenities 4.7 Maintain/enhance existing amenity spaces and enhance visitor experience 4.8 Continue development of paved and unpaved trails Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within St. Joseph County Parks 5.1 Create workforce recommendations that employ equity, inclusion, and diversity best practices 5.2 Develop and prioritize facilities, amenities, and programs that foster diversity and inclusion 5.3 Create partnerships with organizations that work with underserved populations 5.4 Reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion values in internal and external communications

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PARKS DEPARTMENT ACTION ITEM MATRICES The Action Plan takes a deeper look at the goals and strategies presented and provides action items that align with each strategy. Action items may vary from a policy to a maintenance item to a specific strategy. Some may be tangible while others are intangible. Certain action items may be a one-time improvement or effort, while others may be an ongoing initiative. The Parks Department utilizes these action items to produce an annual action item list that guides decisions and efforts for the upcoming year. The list is reviewed with the Parks Board periodically to ensure that the Parks Department is making progress on each yearly action item list.

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GOAL #1 Goal #1 ‐ Protect and Enhance County Natural and Cultural Resources 1.1  Reduce invasive and non‐native species  Monitor and treat Vinca Clear invasives from Spicer Lake field and mow annually end of October Re‐treat invasives around ponds Treat oriental bittersweet and Chinese Yam on amphitheater hedge In landscaped areas, remove non‐native shrubs and replace with natives 1.2  Control nuisance wildlife Apply deer management strategies Complete annual nest depredation/egg addling for goose control  Address habitat modifications for goose control (less manicured lawns, more native grasses, shoreline management) Monitor beaver population and employ management strategies 1.3  Enact sustainability initiatives throughout all programming, maintenance, and development efforts Reduce mowed areas Use native plants for landscape plantings Support existing and expand pollinator habitat throughout parks Invest in repairs and upgrades that save energy 1.4  Protect and maintain health of local water resources as well as their contributing areas Stock the pond at Ferrettie ‐ Baugo Creek County Park Monitor invasives around ponds Stabilize eroding shorelines Employ localized erosion, runoff, and water quality control measures 1.5  Protect and maintain health of existing park natural and cultural resources Manage Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area in partnership with Department of Public Works Establish 3‐year mow cycle Mow and treat paths Brush cut Studebaker letters to reduce understory competition 1.6  Add park land where it aligns with the St. Joseph County Parks' goals and values Add park land contiguous to existing parks Farmland northwest of Bendix Woods County Park Property surrounded by St. Patrick's County Park (between ND‐LEEF and SJHS fields) Wetland parcels near Spicer Lake Nature Preserve Seek opportunities to add park land to underserved areas

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GOAL #2 Goal #2 ‐ Reinforce Activities and Programs That Highlight the Connection  Between Nature, Public Health, and/or Economic Development 2.1  Create/evaluate programs that combine nature and the different facets of health Maintain current successful programs and activities Establish new user groups Expand adventure programming Acquire orienteering equipment 2.2  Create and maintain partnerships for planning and initiatives Collaborate with Shirley Heinze Land Trust, MACOG, and St. Joseph County Economic Development for conservation planning Collaborate with Visit South Bend Mishawaka to enhance attractions for tourism Collaborate with MACOG for trail initiatives 2.3  Create/maintain partnerships for programs, activities, and events Support related agency and organizations' Master Plans Support related agency and organizations' public engagement and outreach efforts  Support related community initiatives where applicable  Enhance communications with teachers Promote connections to nature for children Create cooperative programs with ND‐LEEF Partner with Saint Mary's, University of Notre Dame, and Indiana University South Bend for cooperative research and outreach 2.4  Promotion and marketing of activities, programs, and events that emphasize this goal Quantify the environmental value of the parks' greenspace Utilize park logo on all materials, facilities, vehicles, and uniforms  Develop interpretive displays and signage that tell the stories within the parks 2.5  Upgrade and implement new technology Expand offerings on website to include permits page Develop social media guidelines and responsibilities Implement online registration Acquire digital signage displays for park entrances

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GOAL #3 Goal #3 ‐ Develop Administration and Staffing Capacity 3.1  Create a training and development plan for leadership and staff Offer continuing education opportunities Encourage growth of employees through opportunity and responsibility Create document that summarizes parks'  annual accomplishments and achievements 3.2  Develop strategies for future Parks Board and Parks Foundation Board Develop recommendations for future Parks Board appointments Work to align Parks Board, Park Foundation, and Parks Department strategies and efforts Encourage diversity while discussing parks' leadership with county officials  Build capacity of Parks Foundation for fundraising 3.3  Focus on employee culture Enhance employee workspaces and environment Hold employee events to promote culture Increase transparency to help build trust Inspire employee autonomy 3.4  Expand volunteerism strategically Develop volunteer policies and procedures Train staff members for managing and training volunteers Increase strategic recruitment of volunteers and volunteer groups 3.5  Relieve stressed staff positions  Add position(s) for Natural Resources Manager and Marketing/Promotions Determine opportunities for improved volunteer utilization Expand full‐time maintenance staff Expand internship opportunities and part‐time hours 3.6  Leverage new and existing revenue streams  Maximize revenue from programming Analyze gate fees and/or rental fees and increase when appropriate Expand partnerships and sponsorships Utilize grants to fund projects and programs Develop a plan for a bond proposal to fund future projects

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GOAL #4 Goal #4 ‐ Improve and Update Existing Park Facilities and Equipment 4.1  Upgrade buildings and shelters Tackle deferred maintenance backlog, budgeting, and forecasting Remove Hofferth Shelter at Ferrettie‐Baugo Creek County Park Obtain new chairs in red barn Implement County Energy Audit recommendations Upgrade public restrooms at Bendix Woods County Park Explore funding for Studebaker Shelter conversion to overnight facility at Bendix Woods County Park Replace carpet in white barn office Re‐skin maintenance shop at Bendix Woods County Park Build program storage building at St. Patrick's County Park 4.2  Develop plan for reuse or demolition of amphitheater Brainstorm ideas for repurposing facilities Find new partners Obtain prices for full reroof Obtain prices for teardown 4.3  Infrastructure and road repairs Pave roads and parking lots Repair or replace road lighting Determine need for new entrance at St. Patrick's County Park Upgrade well house at St. Patrick's County Park Build lanes into tube hill; grade drainage swale at base at St. Patrick's County Park 4.4  Purchase new vehicles and equipment for maintenance and other park‐related activities Purchase new mowers Purchase new canoe/kayak rental vans Purchase new tubing equipment and storage Replace snow‐making equipment Update machinery such as bulldozers, mowers, groomers, and tractors Update rental equipment, such as skis, canoes, life jackets, kayaks, and snowshoes 4.5  Improve accessibility and universal design implementation Establish path from Bendix Woods County Park playground to restroom Repair sidewalk to Baugo Station  4.6  Develop new amenities to enhance visitor experience Evaluate outdoor archery range potential Evaluate ropes course/adventure course Evaluate large conditioned event/rental space Evaluate canopy walk at St. Patrick's County Park near the wetland Establish natural playground Evaluate need for disc golf course at Bendix Woods County Park Develop a site plan for the Anderson Road Property Add lighting to ski trails Build boardwalk around Spicer Lake 4.7  Continue development of paved and un‐paved trails Add and improve trail wayfinding signage Install measured walking trail‐surfaced Connect to regional trails in collaboration with MACOG Continue planning with Indiana‐Michigan River Valley Trail group for linkage Plan for universal signage on Indiana‐Michigan River Valley Trail

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GOAL #5 Goal #5 ‐ Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within SJC Parks  5.1  Create workforce recommendations that employ equity, inclusion, and diversity best practices Create recommendations for staffing and hiring that support these values Prioritize diversity in staff advancement Create diversity and inclusion recommendations for Parks Board, Foundation Board, partnerships, and associated groups 5.2  Develop and prioritize facilities, amenities, and programs that foster diversity and inclusion Improve accessibility and universal design implementation Evaluate new and existing programs so they support diversity and inclusion Develop programs and activities that target underserved user groups 5.3  Create partnerships with organizations that work with underserved populations Work with organizations such as La Casa De Amistad, Kroc Center, Neighborhood Resource Connection, etc. Look to reduce barriers that prevent underserved populations from using the parks 5.4  Reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion values in internal and external communications Develop multi‐lingual interpretive displays, signage, and brochures Analyze print, social media standards, and internal communications for inclusion, equity, and diversity

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10.0 Chapter Ten Implementation

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IMPLEMENTATION FUNDING RESOURCES Recommendations in the Action Plan section of this Master Plan include operational expenses, maintenance expenses, and larger capital expenses. With a limited annual budget, park systems often need to be creative in finding resources for funding. Leveraging a variety of funding resources will be essential in the Parks Boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts to implement some of the items identified in the plan. Non-Reverting Operating Funds Non-Reverting Operations Funds are appropriated by the Parks Board for operational expenditures matching grant or special projects. This fund is sourced from program and event fees, sale of merchandise or concessions, user fees, and rental fees. Non-Reverting Capital Funds Non-Reverting Capital Funds are created for the purpose of acquiring land or making specific capital improvements. This is funded by sale of park property, equipment, or any special user fees established by the Parks Board. Local Income Taxes (LIT) Local Income Taxes are the general name for the types of local income taxes, such as County

Images to the left highlight potential amenities for capital improvement projects that utilize the resources, grants, and donations outlined in this section.

Option Income Tax(COIT) and County Economic Development Income Tax(CEDIT). Revenue raised by LIT must be used for economic development projects or public capital projects and is controlled by the County Council. General Obligation Bonds General Obligation Bonds provide a funding source for larger projects that typically exceed funding available by other sources. Public hearings must be held and the County Council must approve any bonds being issued. Recreation Impact Fees Recreation Impact Fees are established by planning ordinances and assessed to new housing developments to fund facilities that serve that particular area. These funds are not to be used for maintenance or repairs on existing facilities. St. Joseph County Parks Foundation The St. Joseph County Parks Foundation (d.b.a. Friends of St. Joseph County Parks) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that assists the County Parks and Parks Board with funding park projects, enhancing programs, and acquiring new park property. They actively raise funds through donations and work with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County to build the endowment fund for the County Parks.

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GRANTS AND FUNDING PROGRAMS Recommendations in the Action Plan of this Master Plan include some larger capital expenses that may seem beyond the financial reach of the County Parks and community resources. Grants and funding programs will be essential in the Parks Board’s efforts to implement some of these items. A key consideration for the Parks Board is to be aware of grant opportunities and apply for grants for capital projects. Some of these include: IDNR Recreational Trails Program (RTP) RTP provides 80% grant dollars requiring a 20% local match for acquisition and development of multi-use trails with grants of up to $200,000. IDNR Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) LWCF provides 50% grant dollars with 50% local match funding for the development of park facilities. The LWCF is best used for projects that involve land acquisition to expand park property. Next Level Trails This grant program from IDNR will provide several rounds of funding over the next few years to create local and regional trails with 80% state funds and requires a 20% local match. OCRA Quick Impact Placebased (QuIP) Grant This grant funds space enhancement projects that spark community conversation and creativity. It encourages partnerships between local government, residents, and community organizations and agencies.

and habitat connectivity. This could include monies for trails, associated parking, restrooms, and other basic improvements. IDNR, Division of Forestry Grants for community and urban forestry programs are available to assist with street and park tree inventories, management plans and tree planting. Grants range from $2,000 to $20,000 and require equal cash/in-kind match. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) This provides 80% grant/20% local funding to promote walkability in communities where school facilities are located. CDBG Funding OCRA provides funding for community development projects from Community Development Block Grants. The Historic Preservation Fund offers 50% matching grants for acquisition, restoration, and preservation of historic properties. Lily Endowment Lily supports facilities and programs that advance economic revitalization and community recreational opportunities. Lily Endowment announced a matching grant program with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County to match $2 for every $1 donated through 2020. Community Foundation of St. Joseph County The Foundation partners with many organizations in the community to support projects related to social services, the environment, and the arts.

Patronicity CreatINg Places Patronicity partnered with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to provide a grant program based on crowdfunding. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) will match the dollars raised by the community up to $50,000.

Indiana Native Plant Society (INPS) INPS offers small grants to promote the appreciation, preservation, conservation, utilization and scientific study of the flora native to Indiana and to educate the public about the values, beauty, diversity and environmental importance of indigenous vegetation.

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST Act) FAST provides 80% grant dollars with 20% local funding for transportation alternative projects. This includes pedestrian and bicycle trails, recreational trails, historic preservation, and environmental mitigation related to storm water

IDNR Lakes and Rivers Enhancement Program (LARE) LARE offers grants to protect and enhance aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife, to ensure the continued viability of Indiana’s publicly accessible lakes and streams for multiple uses, including recreational opportunities.

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Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.

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ST. J O S E P H C O U N T Y PA R K S & R EC R EAT I O N 110

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023


11.0 Appendices

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ASSURANCE OF COMPLIANCE Assurance of Compliance Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Board has received and read the guidelines for compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 issued by the United States Department of the Interior and will comply with these guidelines and the Act. Signatures ____________________________ Applicant President Signature ____________________________ Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Printed Name ____________________________ Applicant Secretary Signature ____________________________ Secretaryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Printed Name

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RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE MASTER PLAN WHEREAS, the St. Joseph County Parks Board is aware of the parks and recreation needs of the residents of St. Joseph County, Indiana; and, WHEREAS, the St. Joseph County Parks Board is desirous of providing aesthetic and functional facilities and programs to the residents of St. Joseph County to meet their needs; and, WHEREAS, the St. Joseph County Parks Board realizes the importance of a sound planning document in order to meet the needs of its residents; and, WHEREAS, the St. Joseph County Parks Board is continually aware of the value and importance of outdoor and leisure opportunities, programs and facilities to the future of the St. Joseph County Parks Department, its programs, and to the residents of St. Joseph County, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS BOARD, by unanimous declaration, does adopt the 2019-2023 St. Joseph County Parks Master Plan, as its official plan for the growth and development of parks and recreation opportunities in St. Joseph County, Indiana for the next five years. The St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Board is committed to an annual review and update of the goals and objectives of this Master Plan. Signatures ____________________________ ___________________________ Parks Board President Parks Board Member ____________________________ ___________________________ Parks Board Vice President Parks Board Member ____________________________ ___________________________ Parks Board Secretary Parks Board Member ___________________________ Parks Board Member

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SURVEY RESULTS Which County Parks have you visited in the last year? 78% - St. Patrick’s County Park 48% - Bendix Woods County Park 25% - Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park 16% - Spicer Lake Nature Preserve 10% - LaSalle Trail segment of the River Valley 7% - I don’t visit any of the parks 4% - Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area 3% - Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve 3% - Jasinski Canoe Launch How often do you visit a County Park? 50% - 1-5 times per year 19% - 6-10 times per year 13% - 11-20 times per year 12% - 21-40 times per year 6% - Never If you do not visit the County Parks often or at all, what keeps you from doing so? 34% - Not Applicable 28% - Lack of time 24% - I visit other parks and recreation facilities 19% - Parks are located too far away or are too difficult to get to 6% - Program fees are too expensive 3% - Poor health/mobility 2% - Accessibility within parks and programs 1% - I am not interested in parks Do you agree or disagree that St. Joseph County Parks is an essential service in the community? 81% - Strongly agree 14% - Agree 4% - Somewhat agree 1% - Strongly disagree <1% - Disagree If you were promoting the County Parks to a friend or family member, which of the following would be a part of this promotion?

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70% - Park amenities (Hiking Trails, Picnic Shelters, Disc Golf Course, etc.) 68% - Enjoyment and use of natural areas/Nature observation 58% - Parks programs (Canoe rental, Winter tubing, Outdoor Adventures Day Camp, Nature programs, etc) 52% - Spending time with family 46% - Well-maintained facilities 43% - Health and wellness benefits 36% - Stewardship of natural areas 32% - Special events (Sugar Camp Days, Running Wild, etc) 26% - Value for your time and recreation dollar 25% - Educational opportunities What benefits do the St. Joseph County Parks provide to the community? 78% - Quality of life 70% - Health & wellness 65% - Environmental benefits, wildlife habitat 59% - Opportunities to spend time with family and friends 54% - Connectivity (trails, greenways, etc) 53% - Stewardship of natural areas and historical sites 44% - Educational resource 18% - Enhance economic growth 15% - Tourism What programs and activities would you like St. Joseph County Parks to enhance or add in the next five years? 51% - Concerts/Outdoor performances 47% - Canoeing/kayaking/stand up paddleboarding 44% - Children’s programs and school education 39% - Adventure activities (ropes course, zip line, etc.) 36% - Cross country skiing and fat tire biking 36% - Nature Education/Interpretive programs 35% - Special events (Sugar Camp Days, Running Wild, etc.) 33% - Outdoor fitness programs 32% - Adult programs 23% - Active retiree programs 20% - Fishing 19% - Geocaching and orienteering


18% - Archery programs 14% - Disc golf What new, renovated, or expanded park facilities should St. Joseph County Parks focus on in the next 5 years? 42% - Expand paved bike/pedestrian trails 42% - Natural playgrounds 40% - New un-paved trails 37% - Develop new park sites on land owned by the county 35% - Native plant gardens 32% - Conservation or preservation areas 30% - Repair aging infrastructure/deferred maintenance 27% - Add or upgrade restroom facilities 26% - Tent camping areas 26% - Canoe/Kayak launches 25% - Signage interpreting nature or history 24% - Acquire new property for parks 22% - No leash dog park 20% - Recreation games (Bocce ball, Gaga ball, etc) 19% - Traditional playgrounds 15% - More/improved picnic shelters 15% - BMX track/more mountain bike trails 14% - Fishing access Where do you get your information about park events and programs? 59% - Social media 45% - SJCP website 40% - Word of mouth 27% - Email or monthly newsletter 21% - Local newspaper 15% - Poster/flyers 14% - Local radio 10% - Quarterly Activity Guide How important is it for St. Joseph County to invest more money in the County Parks? 73% - Very important 21% - Somewhat important 4% - No preference 1% - Not important

With reduced budgets and limited property tax support, how should St. Joseph County Parks adjust its services and accomodate its operations? 58% - Increase Park Departmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s share of County Budget 45% - Develop higher revenue producing activities and facilities 44% - County bonds for deferred maintenance, infrastructure needs, and new amenities 32% - Increase user fees (gate fees, program fees, rental fees, etc.) 30% - County Option Income Tax (COIT) or special use tax 3% - Reduce park hours 3% - Sell park properties and use funds to address shortfalls 2% - Close parks 1% - Reduce park programs and services Where do you live? 59% - Within a city or town in St. Joseph County 30% - In St. Joseph County, but not within a city or town limits 12% - Outside St. Joseph County How old are you? 39% - 36-50 27% - 51-65 22% - 26-35 10% - Over 65 3% - 19-25 1% - Under 18 How many children (18 and under) live in your household? 49% - Zero 36% - 1 - 2 14% - 3 - 4 2% - 5+

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SURVEY COMMENTS A nice ‘free’ hill for sledding would be nice as well as all-season concerts at ANY of the county or city parks!! Firefly was awesome so bring it back! Thank you! Please develop property on Anderson road, at least with a playground and work with Granger Paths to connect kids living in NE Granger with a public recreation area. We truly enjoy our County Parks and are very proud of them. Special events like Sugar Camp Days, St. Pat’s playground for grandchildren, hikes along the river, the canoe rentals, interaction with other community partners, occasional educational programs - all great! The amphitheater at St. Pat’s should be repurposed into an indoor adventure attraction for children. See ropescoursesinc.com Miss the Firefly Festival. That was an amazing family event. The parks are a wonderful asset and should be supported by county government and citizens It costs less to visit Potato Creek than it does the smaller county parks. That’s why we don’t visit often Love the county parks! They are a vital part of the community and need to be supported. I feel very strongly that the county should Not sell the land, increase admissions costs, or create revenue generating activities to make up the budget shortfall. Parks are an essential community resource that should be accessible to all. I am happy to pay more taxes for them and for my community! I would love to see more hiking trails and the implementation of tent camping at county parks! Overall, keep up the great work! Love the parks, we typically go to state park because it is closer to our house. We love to hike and be outside, I think concerts or activities in the 116

St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

park (like firefly) would have us drive the extra distance. I’d like more family oriented activities, more summer activities, I really only know st pats and spicer lake due to field trips thru school. I’m sure each park offers great things, I just don’t know about them. Also in milwaukee the county parks have traveling/pop up beer gardens during the summer and fall, it is a wonderful time and an easy source of revenue m. There are enough beer drinkers (or maybe access some of the local wineries) in the Michiana area to make this a reality My husband and I do a lot of walking on the trails and have found on some spots on the trails where it gets alot of water and gets very muddy or flooded at times. If stone or mulch were added just to those problem spots, it would be nice. We often avoid the trails when we think it will be too wet and muddy. Have also noticed at Spicer Lake on Maple Woods trail that it is getting very overgrown. Vines are starting to grow over the trail in the summer posing a greater risk of picking up ticks. Just a simple trim up would be great. I love St. Pat’s Park and it is a home away from home. Keep up the good work. Please add dog waste container to end of each trail at Beverly D. Crone Restoration area. Thank you. Our County parks are beyond compare to others. St. Joe County seriously needs to invest more time and money into maintaining the park system and its personnel. We cannot let this valuable natural resource fade away from lack of funds or interest. Love our parks! I love the parks (St Patrick’s is my main stomping ground) but don’t go as often now that I have small children. It can be a bit challenging to get around if you’re not a reasonably fit young adult with a good sense of direction. It would be lovely if the trails could be made a bit more accessible, perhaps by adding an occasional bench (or even a handy trailside sitting log) and a few signs that show a “You Are Here” map of the trails similar


to the Rum Village nature trails. The paper maps you hand out are nice, but can be challenging to use if you get turned around and I’m sure they get dropped occasionally. My kids love the playground as is, but adding a splash pad to cool off after a sweaty hike would be amazing.

Activities in the parks are a wonderful mix of traditional long standing events and programs along with new actinides - keep it up! It is fun to do both and to continue to explore the outdoors in new ways. Continue to expand efforts to conserve the diversity of habitats in the county, and to educate on bringing nature home through native More Disc Golf courses, am so tournaments to landscaping and birding programs. More Arts in raise money to help up keep parks. U build and the Parks events, and continuing the science at they well come. Grow your pro shop for disc golf. sundown series. Using more parks as hubs for We love the parks and regularly explore them! rides and runs would be a great way to connect We think parks funding is the best use of taxpayer health and wellness to outdoor activity. dollars! Love the parks. The more the better. Free access to st Joseph county resident, waiving of Please add more geocaches or let local geocachers entrance fees for groups using shelters, upgrades set up their own caches to restrooms, more walking trails. I want to kayak and camp in sb, there is land along We love our county parks! the river by Isaac Walton. Educate about sustainability topics: solar energy, recycling. Provide more nature play for kids - develop a badge system (like Boy Scouts), and let children earn points and rewards for accomplishments.

St. Joseph County has beautiful parks. Thank you to those who who maintain and work at our parks for the job they do!

Would love to see more programs and activities for younger age children with affordable fee

Wavepool or splash park could be good revenue producing investments

I live in Logansport Indiana, but I make the drive to Bendix Woods to ride mountain bike. You have Bendix Woods playground is great, a splash pad a great Park, the people that work there are always would definitely bring in more of the community friendly and helpful with any questions about the as there’s nowhere in New Carlisle to go on hot Park.Thank You days to cool off. Please bring back the original Firefly Festival! It was Dog parks please! an outstanding summer series for our community. St. Joseph County Parks are so valuable to the You can charge enough so that responsible whole area. We have been using them as a family adults can attend with their families if they want to. Allow us to bring our own alcohol & food. If a for 40 years. large metropolis like Chicago can maintain events at a venue like Ravinia, we certainly can restart a I love how kid friendly the park system is! smaller version of that in St. Joe County. I love the parks! Would be nice to see new features like zip lines, I would love to see a few free evening or early rope courses, alpine slide course (Bendix Woods). morning hours in the summer. (Maybe one night Consider future park additions like Newton Park to a week) Loss of revenue could be regained with expand park offerings. rustic tent camping options and or other activity Thank you for all you do for the community!!!!!!!!!!!!!! fees.

I love our county parks! ferrettie baugo creek is Acquire abandoned rail lines in the south county close to me – I would like to go there more but the for rails to trails. Miles and miles of potential biking hiking trails have no signs or directions on them and walking trails. and I got lost for three hours back there! TROYER GROUP

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I would like to see more concerts or festivals at the County Parks. I also would like to see the Anderson Road property be developed into a park with a play ground, shelters and hiking & bicycling trails. Please act green again. Reinvent Firefly Festival. Let people come as they are, bring their kids, and their own food, etc. It would be nice to allow people to roll down the hill and the fun was taken out when that was cut out. Many lawn (grassy) areas of our parks are, frankly, unnecessary, expensive to maintain and detrimental to what a natural park or space should be. Especially so if pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are applied to them. I feel that rarely used lawns should be converted over to natural areas with indigenous growth. I also think that “un-used” or rarely used peripheral areas of parks should be enhanced and enlargened where possible with native growth, particularly with uncommon, rare or endangered native plant species. I think that one or a few of our parks should have a nursery or growing area to propagate these type of plants, shrubs and trees. If started successfully these plants could then be reintroduced to our woods, prairies, fens, etc., and allowed to recolonize. The benefits to wildlife are obvious. The beauty, quality & overall usefullness of our parks would improve substantially. Also I think that these “nurseries” would be an outstanding educational platform for local students interested in botany, ecology etc., and could provide excellent and unusual outdoor classroom opportunities. Better walking trails at Bendix for older people. It was nice when you had the exercise areas on trails there. I recently fell in love with cross country skiing and St. Patrick’s park. I’d love different activities for the winter. Where adults and children can get out of their homes and have fun in nature. I already go to parks in the dinner but was surprised I never tried the parks in the winter. I am a cyclist and disappointed at how few natural bike paths there are. I would love to see a bike path like Nickel Plate trail. Parks should open earlier in the day especially on weekends and particularly at Spicer Lake. 118

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We love the parks! We primarily use them for running/walking and spending time with our kids outdoors. We frequent the playground regularly. I would love to see more children’s programs but I know there are a lot of interests out there. Thank you for for the work you do! I had a beautiful run there today! Our parks are so important. We must do everything we can to preserve them. Disc golf. Dog parks. Trails rule. Paved paths due to increase in aging Population, alot of camps are offered for children 10-11 and under but not as many for 12+. concerts at st pats We love our County Parks! Please work on expanding trails and updating facilities. The programs and events that you run are always great. Frankly tired of having to pay taxes for the benefit of others.... need more bike trails, look at Lake and Porter counties, they have a great trail system Website needs information of canoe/ kayak will be open or closed per day. We enjoy biking on paved or packed limestone trails and hiking. Usually we will go to a state park like Potato Creek to do both or head to the Pumpkinvine trail in Middlebury. Having more trails says in Bendix that are safe for general biking (not mountain) would be nice as it’s so pretty in and he park. I love the tent camping idea. It could also be a good way to generate additional revenue for the parks dept. It would be nice to have some specialized programs for those 55+ that still work during the day. Something in the evening, like after 5:30 or so. Also concerts or bands or some activity that those with limited mobility would be able to enjoy. Summer day camps for kids would be amazing too! Need to bring back Concerts at St Pats park what a waste to have that facility and not use it. What was


the last REO Speedwagon?

activities for children 0-4 at the county park level. If more were available, we would certainly make I think the amphitheater at St. Pat’s Park is an the trip more often. We will be out to visit when underutilized TREASURE in this community. It my daughter is a little bit older for certain! would be great to see it used for concerts and special events throughout the summer and early Add more disc golf courses and host more disc fall. golf tournaments. I personally would love to see the indiana master naturalist program scheduled during a more convenient time in the evening! Perhaps maybe six or at the very latest seven o’clock! I would love to take advantage of that program bit I can’t get out of work at the current scheduled time!

Bring back the concerts in Seitz park The programs, events, and facilities seem stale and lack vision. Everything seems too mundane. What about an inter-county kayak trip/tour? What about linking up important assets via trails that actually go somewhere? What about firefly and major concerts? The county and city should join forces to help achieve successes. Bring some kayaks and canoes downtown - no need to be limit to county parks, spread your wings.

Start collecting a gate fee everyday with a pay pipe approach like some Michigan parks do. Expand the hours. Let’s have a special room tax to fund recreation in st joe county, it is used successfully in other states like Colorado and it wouldn’t cost the To have successful parks, you must tap into the citizens of the county anything.... younger generation and their activities and how I recently took my friends from Massachusetts to they enjoy the nature. That is sport activities, live St. Pat’s Park for a hike and they were thrilled to music and above all a clean river which ties in see the Cooper’s hawk on her nest in the first of with many parks but is not the highlight due to its the evergreen letters. The Parks are invaluable for cleanliness. Lets work to start an initiative to get it preserving green space for people and natural cleaned. habitat for wildlife and the existing programs do a wonderful job of introducing both of those I’ve been told by others that St Joseph County does features to park visitors. Some facilities, especially not want to support youth sports. I sure hope this the aging restrooms, could use some remodeling. is false. We need better facilities in this community. It will provide new business opportunities, increase Were Firefly performances not lucrative? local business, and enhance the community making like I had mentioned, we certainly need more it more attractive to live in St Joseph County. activity(s) in the Bendix Woods County Park. Have heard on many occasions of the wonderful habitat Please serve the northeast of the county better of the park and we should try to utilize this. The parks are so important. I’d love to see more The parks are important to our community as it still brings families together and it’s a place to go to be away from social media and enjoy the nature surrounding us. If parks start to disappear then social media will soon be the only form of interaction to the wilderness. Nature should not be learned that way. People need to experience catching a real fish, feeling the dirt, scraping a knee when riding a bike in the trails, seeing the beauty we have in our community and much more. Parks are a wonderful place for our community in St. Joseph County.

park land not less! They are essential both to quality of life and for non-human species!

Make entrance fees and rental fees more affordable for residents so more families can utilize them. Engage youth in ideas for their future involvement / maybe a contest Add more area for kids to play basketballs with a kid size hoop! It would be nice if the parks had swimming areas; also more frequent canoe/kayak lessons

We love attending park programs. We usually stick within city limits though. I have not seen many I love the parks here. They are the best but could TROYER GROUP

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be geared towards more activities like fishing and bike riding We love the parks! How about a new park on the south side of sb, with hiking and snowshoeing? Also,I would like to learn how to winter camp with my snowshoes., and have a place to practice. I would love more paved bike trails and expand hiking trails. I really like St. Patrick’s and could love it if it were more beautifully designed to highlight special features. I also really like Bendix Woods. The sugar tapping is an incredible experience (hearing sap flow?!?). That park is just too far for us to go to very frequently. So, enhancing St. Pat’s with more events, more varied and interesting programs would be great! That park is wonderful for downtown SB residents, but it could be so much more ! Never sell park land or close a park. It’s a quality of life issue. We need to make the country understand that people want green space, not industrial development. We want to breathe clean air. People choose to live here because of its proximity to parks. They’ll choose elsewhere if we make it a new Gary. Thank you for preserving the Earth’s natural environment for generations to come. Please, please do not close or sell any parks; these are the heritage of the humans who come after us. I have been very impressed with the parks that we have visited. All the ones we have been to have been very well-kept and clean. The only thing that was frustrating to me is that I didn’t know a lot of the amenities existed until I heard about it from someone... sometimes I think your website sells the different parks short and trying to keep with a uniform format of presentation. I would also love to see more fishing opportunities as the parks would be a great place for us to go if we could do that and kayak. Thanks! I would love to see more green space downtown, particularly where there is blight or abandonment. An orchard, community garden, downtown playground...these would beautify downtown and make it more child/family friendly. 120 St. Joseph County Parks Five Year Master Plan 2019-2023

I am not sure where the parks are located or what is offered at the parks so that is the main reason we do not visit. We usually go to Potato Creek. Having a heavier social media presence would probably increase interest. Our parks are essential for all but especially for those who cannot typically connect with nature in any other way. It is my stress reliever after a hectic work day. I go to a park at least 3 times a week if not 5. Please consider development of the property on Anderson Road. I love the Parks and programs (birds, flowers, etc.) but esp. the Staff! More theatre and arts, movie nights, concerts, etc in various parks. I would really like to see the land already owned on Anderson Road be developed into a park. The northeast side of St. Joseph County does not currently have a park within a close distance. I feel that a park at this location would be used heavily. I marked that I did not visit county parks often in the past year BUT that’s in part because I was a new, sleep deprived mom. Since giving birth and being more mobile again, in the past year I have enjoyed bike riding, hiking, disc golf, cross country skiing and just walking outside in our beautiful county. I look forward to sharing our natural habitat with my son as he continues to grow and get to know our world. Thank you for all you do to preserve our natural environment to share it with present and future generations! Again, please reopen the Baugo swimming pond! We really enjoy mountain biking or fat biking in the winter to see more trails for bikes or just allow shared trails would even be an option. I wish there was more opportunity to volunteer at St. Patrick’s Park. The other parks are much farther from home.


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St. Joseph County Parks Draft 2019-2023 Master Plan  

Please review the Draft Parks Master Plan and send ideas or comments to parks@troyergroup.com. Thank you!

St. Joseph County Parks Draft 2019-2023 Master Plan  

Please review the Draft Parks Master Plan and send ideas or comments to parks@troyergroup.com. Thank you!