County parks land a partner

A revenue stream that has benefited Columbus city parks for almost 40 years has been established to help 12 county park properties.

Creation of the Bartholomew County Parks Foundation was announced Monday during a Bartholomew County Commissioners meeting, two months after the seven-member county parks board voted to make the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County fiscal agent for the foundation fund, parks board member Kris Medic said.

The Heritage Fund board of directors took a similar step at its quarterly meeting last week, commissioner and board member Carl Lienhoop said.

With a purpose to accept and manage tax-deductible gifts and donations, the fund will allow donors to select areas of interest such as Projects, Youth Scholarships and Endowment Fund.

“It’s intended to fund any project that the park board identifies,” Medic said.

Contributors will also be given the option of making a gift in memory, honor or appreciation of another.

Donation envelopes are now available from park board members, the Bartholomew County Commissioners’ office, and the Purdue Extension Bartholomew County office.

“Our goal was to have these envelopes ready for year-end giving,” Medic said.

By having the Heritage Fund at the helm, contributions such as appreciated stocks, real estate or grain may be made, in addition to monetary gifts, Medic said.

It is expected the foundation will also be used to supply match money for future grant applications, and a friends group will eventually be formed, a media release stated.

In addition, the fund will leverage dollars to support projects and improvements that might otherwise go unfunded, Medic told the county commissioners.

Although the Heritage Fund normally receives 1 to 3 percent of donations, its board of directors agreed not to accept any money until the parks foundation is financially secure, Medic said.

“It’s really the alliance with the Heritage Fund that made this happen,” county attorney Grant Tucker said.

Although the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department is more widely known, the county park system includes Anderson Falls in eastern Bartholomew County, which attracts nature enthusiasts from through the Midwest.

Dunn Stadium brings in more than 26,000 visitors each year for softball and baseball games, providing an estimated economic impact of $3.2 million in local spending, Medic said.

Other activities supported by the county parks range from family camping and BMX racing to fishing and cricket.

County parks board president Bob Harden gave Medic much of the credit for creation of the foundation.

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Anderson Falls Park: Especially popular with nature enthusiasts, Anderson Falls features a waterfall within a 44-acre nature reserve at County Road 1140E off State Road 46, administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Azalia Park: One-block facility west of U.S. 31 in southern Bartholomew County has basketball courts, horseshoe pits, a playground and trails.

Clifford Park: Located at the site of the former Clifford Elementary school, near E. County Road 550 N and N. County Road 250E, the county’s newest park provides a playground, shelter and trail.

Dunn Stadium: With four lighted diamonds and concession stand off State Road 11 north of the county fairgrounds, the county’s most popular park also provides a BMX bike track, playground and shelters.

Elizabethtown Park: A youth baseball diamond, playground and shelter is available south of Elizabethtown, off County Road 525E.

Grammer Park: Four acres outside the former Grammer school building holds basketball courts, a playground and a shelter, as well as an open area for soccer at County Roads 1000E and 300S.

Heflen Park: Amenities at this 35-acre facility include overnight campground, two shelter houses, fishing lake, hiking trails, basketball, volleyball and horseshoe areas at 4323 W. County Road 700N.

Mt. Healthy Park: Located at the Jackson Township Elementary School on E. County Road 750S, the 27-acre park provides a youth baseball diamond, playground, shelter and basketball courts.

Owens Bend Park: With a boat launch, fishing is often cited as the biggest attraction at this park near County Road 550N and River Road; Owens Bend also has a trail and shelterhouse.

Petersville Park: Youth baseball diamonds, basketball courts, horse shoe courts, playground, asphalt fitness trail, shelter and picnic area are available at the site of the former Petersville School, County Road 550E just north of 25th Street.

Rockcreek Park: The county shares responsibility for ball diamonds, playground and a trail with Rock Creek Elementary School at County Road 200S and State Road 46.

Wayne Park: Two youth baseball diamonds, playground, horseshoe courts, basketball area and trail are located at the former Wayne School site near County Road 550 S and State Road 11.

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2016 Bartholomew County Parks Board members

President: Bob Harden

Vice president: Jim Mahoney

Secretary: Nancy Hoeltke

Treasurer: Dave Apple

Other board members: Evelyn Pence, Dennis Pierce and Kris Medic.

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The new Bartholomew County Parks Foundation Fund allows donors to select areas of interest such as Projects, Youth Scholarships and Endowment Fund for their tax-deductible funds. Gifts may also be made in memory, honor or appreciation of another.

Donation envelopes are now available at:

  • The Bartholomew County Commissioners’ office, located in the county governmental office building at the corner of Third and Franklin streets, Columbus.
  • The Purdue Extension Bartholomew County office, 965 Repp Drive, Columbus.