County officials are reaching out to the public to help them protect, preserve and improve Anderson Falls Park.

Described as a “hidden jewel” by Bartholomew County Park Board member Dennis Pierce, the 44-acre site on County Road 1140E is home to Anderson Falls, a low cascading waterfall and a wooded nature preserve.

Anderson Falls was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 1977 and was given to the county park board in 1981, which is in charge of its maintenance. It is one of 12 parks owned and maintained by the county park board.

Ongoing vandalism, trash dumping and other unwelcome activity at the park has led the county to pursue solutions with the help of Purdue University Extension and county residents to find solutions to keep the park clean and welcoming.

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As part of a Purdue program called “Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces,” two public stakeholder meetings were conducted last year in Hartsville and Columbus to develop a plan for the future of the park, said Kris Medic, Bartholomew County extension educator.

On Thursday, community members were invited to an open house that drew about 20 people who were asked to provide feedback about what priorities should be pursued for the property.

Among the priorities mentioned at the open house is seeking grants to improve the park, creating a safety and security plan and scheduling volunteer workdays for park trails’ maintenance.

Sierra Club member Julie Lowe, Columbus, said trash dumping is continuing at the park and she recently observed multiple tires with rims located near Clifty Creek in the park.

“I see garbage thrown out all the time,” Lowe said.

Sierra Club is focusing on water quality in the Anderson Falls area and asked county officials to consider paying more attention to that issue. Lowe also asked if the county would consider constructing a walkway across Clifty Creek in order to link more trails within the park.

John Vinson, Columbus, asked the board to take a more active role in having park patrols.

“Why not establish a group of civilian patrols?” Vinson asked.

He said he would volunteer to go out to the park in the early morning hours to patrol as he is concerned about illegal drug activity occurring there.

“It’s a beautiful place and I hate to see vandalism in the daytime,” Vinson said. “Those two activities make it uninviting.”

Annette Heath, a retired teacher who lives in Waymansville, also has a personal connection with Anderson Falls, saying she spent much of her childhood at the park. The park was also used as a learning experience for her students when she was a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Mt. Healthy Elementary School, she said.

Heath isn’t sure what steps should be taken, but said something needs to be done.

“I don’t have a solution, but I’m very concerned about it,” Heath said. “It’s going to have to be maintained somehow. I’m just glad it’s getting some attention to be protected.”

However, she said doing nothing isn’t an option.

“Otherwise, I think it would be vandalized and forgotten,” Heath said.

The input from Thursday’s meeting will be used to help guide the park board, said Dave Apple, a park board member.

A formal plan will be developed by the middle of 2018 based on the feedback county park board members have received, Apple said.

Public input can also be provided at county park board meetings, which occur on the first Thursday of every month, Apple said. The meetings are at 4:30 p.m. in the Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building, 440 Third St.

If you go

Bartholomew County Park Board meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in first-floor commissioners chambers at the Bartholomew County Office Building, 440 Third St.

Members of the Anderson Falls Project Team

  • Kris Medic, Natural Resources and Community Development Educator, Purdue Extension
  • Doug Johnson, Sierra Club Winding Waters Group
  • Jason Larson, Southeast Region Regional Ecologist, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Bob Harden, Bartholomew County Parks Board president
  • Linda Glick, community resident
  • Emilie Pinkston, senior planner, City of Columbus -Bartholomew county Planning Department.
Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com