Improvements ahead for St. Joseph County parks

NEW CARLISLE, IND. -- Some big changes could be coming to St. Joseph County parks over the next few years.

On Wednesday night, the department held a public meeting to get feedback on its five-year master plan, which outlines goals for 2014-2018.

Most of the ideas were the result of feedback from people who use the parks. They range from basic maintenance requests to suggestions for new programs.

Parks Director Evie Kirkwood says many people want to see more fitness-related and health-centered activities offered. So, the department plans to start a snow-shoe and walking club.

Other suggestions include re-paving park entrances and replacing signs. One of the big improvements that could be ahead includes connecting a trail in Roseland to one across the Michigan border.

"Some of the things that the community told us they wanted to see included expansions of trails within the community," Kirkwood said. "The LaSalle Trail is a perfect example. And, that is one that will have a big impact on the community by providing a 34-mile trail and that is a great opportunity for folks."

Kirkwood says the biggest challenge is finding the funding for the projects. County parks have a tight budget, thanks to state property tax caps. So, all of the items listed in the master plan are just goals -- not guarantees.

The parks department is still looking for feedback from residents on the master plan before they submit it to the DNR. People can read more about the ideas and leave their comments on their website. Or, they can find out more at Sugar Camp Days on March 15 and 16 at Bendix Woods County Park.

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