News and Tribune

Clark County

July 21, 2007

State leaders sure Charlestown State Park will see improvements

Cindy Burt was wrapping up her first trip to Charlestown State Park on Thursday morning and she liked what she’d seen so far. Sitting around on foldable chairs with her kids near a still-warm charcoal grill, the Owensboro, Ky., resident and veteran camper spoke of the trails and campground her family took advantage of in the previous days.

“It’s a nice park,” she said, “some really beautiful scenery.” She said the only thing she would do to improve it would be to add a swimming pool.

The story was similar for Noel and Linda Duvall, Henryville residents who just a few feet away were enjoy a few moments of relief from the sweltering morning heat in their air-conditioned camper parked in the campgrounds. They, too, are veteran campers and on their first trip to the park.

“The sites are just the right size,” Linda Duvall said of the campground. She noted that she’d visited other Indiana parks and this was one of the nicest she’d seen.

Even with those glowing comments from campers Thursday morning, local and state leaders say they’re not done with the facility yet.

“We’ve got the blessing, in Charlestown, of size,” said Dan Bortner, director of the Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks and Reservoirs division.

More than 10 years after the more than 5,000-acre facility was founded, the focus is still on switching the property from a U.S. Army installation to a place where people can come to relax, he said.

The space now known as Charlestown State Park used to be the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant. When the plant closed, half the land was dedicated for use as the River Ridge Commerce Center — an industrial park. The other half became Charlestown State Park.

Since that time, improvements have been made in the form of trails and campsites. This summer, a boat ramp was added, what Bortner refers to as “a five-lane highway to the [Ohio] River. However, he said, there still are railroad lines and private buildings on the property. Basically, state officials are now deciding what should stay and what should go.

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