News and Tribune

June 24, 2013

Vissing Park’s grand opening draws families

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE —

She sat down with her mother to eat a hot dog in the shade. Afterward, she said she might play on the swings or check out the playground on the other side of the park.

As for the politics in getting Vissing Park started or finished, Nevaeh Logan couldn’t have cared less. 

“We love it,” her mother, Betty, said. “We came to the old park; it was a little scary. Now that they’ve got it done, it’s amazing. We come down here about three days a week.”

The park’s grand opening on Saturday brought out local families along with past and present city officials who have worked to renovate it since 2010.

John R. “Jack” Vissing, a local attorney and the son of the park’s namesake, Richard Vissing, said his father would have loved to see families enjoying the park.

“He knew the city was growing in this direction and there wasn’t a large park in the city,” Vissing said. “There wasn’t any open space here before, and this is something he believed in.”

After a short ceremony, families checked out the park’s full-sized basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds and two playgrounds.

The park also has walking trails through the woods, paved paths through the greenspace and tree-shaded  areas for hanging out.

Paul Northam, Jeffersonville Parks Department director, said in the six months he’s seen families visiting the grounds, he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from residents.

“I can’t sit here and say there’s one thing that is more special about this park when there’s so many things families are doing and enjoying out here,” Northam said. “What I like most is seeing people walking their dogs and the youth groups or churches bringing their kids down here during the day.”

Tom Galligan, former Jeffersonville mayor, said Vissing Park improves the city’s quality of life by giving people a safe place to visit.

“The community is a lot better off because families have a place to come, kids have a place to come and adults have a place to walk and feel safe in,” Galligan said.

And for some citizens, the park is just in their back yard. Dean Ratzliff, 35, of Jeffersonville, said he lives in a neighboring subdivision. He said before work began, Vissing Park wasn’t quite as nice.

“The park was much smaller at the time and we would do some walking or light jogging,” Ratzliff said. “There would be some kids who would ride their dirt bikes through and there were so many trees that there wasn’t a lot of light. That kind of gave it an oppressive feel.”

But now, he, his wife and his daughter walk to the park a couple of times a week since the renovations.

“I think it improves the value of my home. It’s made me think about joining the softball league, and we have a park that we can walk to with our daughter.”

Northam said he hasn’t heard a lot of negative feedback about the park, but he’s taken some suggestions to heart. He said in the next few weeks, the playground near the basketball courts should have a slide and a merry-go-round should arrive and begin installation soon after.

Vissing said Mayor Mike Moore did a good job finishing the project and is proud of the results.

“Dad would have loved to be here today,” Vissing said. “He would have liked to see the people here and the kids having fun.”