Lots of input, little direction on future of Burnworth Pool

   The Columbia City Park Board held its monthly meeting Monday with Park Director Mark Green providing several updates.
   The future of Burnworth Pool was the topic of considerable discussion.
   A pool committee has been organized to determine a proposed objective and/or assignment for the future of the facility. A survey was conducted by the committee which resulted in numerous recommendations.
   “We had a lot of good feedback, but not much direction,” Green said. “A lot of meetings and a lot of work just to get to this point because pools like ours are all closing.”
   The survey also prompted Green, Bordner and Mayor Jim Fleck to conduct numerous lengthy meetings with high school officials and various businesses within the community for their input and recommendations on the pool. A lot of responses were in favor of a working relationship on the project between the Columbia City Parks Department and the Whitley County Family YMCA.
   The Martin Riley engineering firm has also provided a proposal for the board to review including three phases which is a pool study, development plan and operational plan.
   “We are not guaranteed to get a new pool by doing this,” Green said. “A new pool will cost a lot of money and I don’t believe we can do this on our own.”
   In other updates, Green said the fireworks and pow wow were both successful events at the park.

Junior Football League
   With summer activities winding down, junior football league is now in full swing with 169 participants, compared to 163 last year.
   “Fourth and fifth graders started practice (Monday) and sixth graders started last week,” Green said. “Football in our community right now is going in a positive direction, that obviously feeds off what the high school team is doing.”
   One of the many positive factors is the feeder program built through Columbia City Joint High School head coach Randy Hudgins who has been excellent in the program and has also provided a lot of feedback from the junior football league board.
   “Last week we had a coach’s meeting and they normally go 20 to 30 minutes and this one went beyond two hours,” Green said. “Coach Hudgins was so prepared, he went through all drills, showed all fundamental drills and I think our coaches were somewhat overwhelmed, but at the same time impressed and excited.”
   Although second- and third-grade football numbers are a bit lower than last year, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade levels are higher.
   A new equipment purchase has helped the program as well.
   “Last year we bought a new liner and it really makes nice lines and easy to see ... a huge improvement for our football fields,” Green said. “We also have a field at DeVol Field for our sixth graders.”

Other park programs, facilities
• With only 10 girls registered for cheerleading this year, Green plans on continuing this program and hopefully make it available for younger children next year.
“We are going to have it this year, there just won’t be a lot of girls,” Green said.
• Stones have been added to the bike trail with positive feedback from those who utilize the trail.
“The stretch is probably about 80 feet altogether with 50 feet that is covered,” park board vice president Mark Ellis said. “Hopefully we can get more stone at some point to help with water issues.”
• The shuffleboard courts were also discussed as new stone has been added on the inside, weeds have been managed and the concrete will be re-stained next spring.
“Shuffleboard courts get played on a lot ... more than people think,” Green said. “It’s the same group from like eight to noon, but they always try to get more people to join them.”
• With United Way’s Day of Caring quickly approaching on Sept. 14, Green said he is hopeful that volunteers will work on two more dugouts in field four.
• Green is currently seeking quotes for a sign on the pavilion in Morches Park and hopes to have this resolved by the time junior football leagues begin.
“Would be really nice, especially with junior football leagues going on, to have the sign as soon as possible ... and hopefully have that by next week,” board member Kelley Sheiss said.
• Ellis commented on the ball field lighting in fields one through four.
“I know fields five and six are kind of  dark,” Ellis said.
Green believes the storm which came through the area back in June is the reason of the low lighting.    The electrical department will look into this issue.
   In other business, Sheiss complimented parks program director Melinda Wheeler for equipment reminders and practice times via e-mail.
   “This is something new which was greatly appreciated and helpful,” Sheiss said.
   Park board member Mauri Bordner questioned Green on the bid procedure for baseball T-shirts. Green advised that bids are revisited every three years with quality, price and dependability playing a major role in determining which company will provide the T-shirts.
   The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept. 27.