From Local Sources
JASPER -- The Jasper Park and Recreation Department, already one of Indiana’s most diverse municipal park systems, has created its most ambitious project ever: A 75-acre central park called The Parklands of Jasper. It is a major urban renewal endeavor which turned a private 9-hole golf course and the surrounding woodlands into Indiana’s Natural Destination. Dedication is set for this Saturday, July 7 at 10:30AM with a formal public opening at 1:00PM.
In the summer of 2012 the Jasper Country Club (JCC) announced it would close their facility and reached out to Mayor Terry Seitz to see if the City wanted to purchase the property. Through the advice of Park Director Ken Buck and support of several council members, negotiations begin between the JCC board, the City and adjacent property owner, the Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools.
The City announced a purchase agreement for the golf course in early 2013 which included resale of 10 acres to the school corporation and a partnership agreement for maintenance. The $1M cost was funded from the Rainy Day Fund and the fund has been fully restored. The purchase agreement included a restricted deed which meant it could no longer be a golf course. Meanwhile, the parent company of the famed Schnitzelbank Restaurant announced purchase of the JCC clubhouse for conversation to a banquet facility and a brewery overlooking The Parklands.
The mayor appointed a citizen advisory team to determine what the land could become and contracted with CityVisions of Louisville, Kentucky and Gamble Associates of Boston, Massachusetts to provide recommendations. After much discussion a “Managed Meadows” concept was announced in 2015 with preliminary plans calling to keep much of grounds in a natural state with limited structures, while taking advantage of the setting for public amenities including the use of the existing golf course ponds.
The opportunity then took another giant leap with pursuit of an Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust grant for the adjacent 25 acres of woods. With private benefactors and real estate discounts offered by property owners, the City acquired the additional acreage and formal design work began through Rundell Erntsberger Associates of Indianapolis and Hafer Associates of Evansville. Jasper Lumber was chosen as the General Contractor and ground was broken in March 2017.
The Parklands of Jasper features:
- Two miles of walking trails including multi-purpose paths made possible, in part, by benefactors and an Indiana Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation grant.
- A walking signature bridge which is lighted at night to draw attention to park.
- Three ponds, all connected by elevated pathways, one which will be stocked by the IDNR for fishing.
- Approximately 25 acres of woods made possible by benefactors and the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust.
- Two waterfalls which are fed from a well on the property.
- A wetlands area for nature studies.
- The Pavilion – an indoor public event space seating 160 people with a prep kitchen from MasterBrand Cabinets and a 2,000sf picnic deck overlooking a fish pond.
- A splash pad with three rock features and 42 jets.
- Four GTFit outdoor exercise pods from Memorial Hospital & Health Care Center with 10 pieces of exercise equipment.
- An Adventure Play Area featuring climbing rocks and balance beams.
- A Tree Fort.
- A Musical Playground from the Jasper Kiwanis Club.
- A connecting path from the City’s existing multi-use trail is being built this summer.
The Parklands of Jasper provided an optimum platform for collaboration between the city, schools, state and the private sector.It is estimated that nearly $2.5M of donated funds, grants, or in-kind contributions are part of the $7.5M project including an endowment. In addition to serving Jasper citizens, it is anticipated The Parklands of Jasper will become a regional destination.