County approves Heflen Park upgrade

Significant improvements will be made this year at the two biggest revenue generators for the Bartholomew County Parks Department.

One upgrade deals with water erosion at Heflen Park, 433 W. County Road 700N. The erosion has caused the banks of the Driftwood River to recede about 10 feet over the last decade, Bartholomew County Parks Director Rich Day said.

But now, the county has received an $68,800 Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) matching grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to address the problem, Day said.

“By getting this grant, it’s going to preserve the camp area,” said Day, who says he has worked with both Blue’s Canoes and officials with the Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District to obtain the money.

On Monday, the Bartholomew County commissioners agreed to sign a contract with the Starger Group, headquartered in Goshen, in the amount of $80,422 to do the work at Heflen.

While the county is responsible for paying $10,000 of the total cost, the DNR does allow in-kind contributions. In this case, a large number of old trees will be brought down by county labor, and an even larger number of trees will be planted, Day said.

By the time the in-kind work is figured into the equation, Day said the entire project should cost taxpayers no more than $2,144. Last month, the parks director said some members of the Bartholomew County Highway Department have volunteered to assist in the tree clearing.

Other work recently completed or soon be finished at Heflen includes improving the grass in the campsites, extensive painting and working with Duke Energy to upgrade electricity to a 50 amp service, Day said.

Many patrons who camp out at the German Township facility are local, Day said. Their fondness of Heflen Park was evident in 2018 when the facility received a substantial upgrade that included the removal of a rotting boardwalk and the installation of a 425-foot replacement structure.

The labor-intensive project was the result of 107 volunteers from Cummins Inc. who worked in shifts over seven days. Volunteers from Dorel Juvenile also did their part to complete the project.

Meanwhile, a date has been announced when the county will close Dunn Stadium for their most significant upgrade in 34 years. In December, the county accepted a bid to install a new LED lighting system to illuminate all four ball diamonds.

Hellas Construction Inc., which specializes in sports facilities and athletic surfaces, offered to install the new LED lighting system for $726,170.

The contractor has agreed to begin the work on July 16 during a break in tournament action. The work is expected to take about 15 days to complete, Day said.