By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
It was a sunny, spring day in Floyd County, and parents pushed their children on swingsets, dogs trotted along in front of their owners and couples walked briskly on a concrete path at Sam Peden Community Park.
“This is what we do this for,” said Floyd County Parks Director Roger Jeffers, as he nodded at the children who chased each other around the playground.
Floyd County is again operating its own parks department after the city elected to end the joint venture last year. Since the county department launched in January, Jeffers said parks employees have kept busy sprucing up facilities such as Community Park.
The Southern Indiana Sports Center has been boosted by agreements with local volley clubs for usage, as rental fees for the gymnasium have totaled about $40,000 more so far this year than during the same stretch in 2012, Jeffers said.
Scott Klink, president of the Floyd County Parks Board, said the newly formed department is “hitting on all cylinders.”
Klink was the former president of the now defunct New Albany-Floyd County Parks Board, and Jeffers was the joint department’s superintendent. Both were opposed to the split of the merged parks department, and decided to stay with the county.
“They have lost absolutely no ground,” Klink said of the county parks employees and facilities.
In addition to its regular board, the county is also forming a parks advisory board. Klink said the purpose of the advisory board is to expand representation, though the members won’t vote.
Two of the primary objectives for the parks board are to form a five-year master plan and to develop a new park off Charlestown Road in conjunction with New Albany Little League. The organization is planning to construct a baseball and softball complex near the Interstate 265 interchange along Charlestown Road, and the county has interest in developing a park to compliment the fields.
“That area is underserved for parks,” Jeffers said.
The plans are preliminary, but county officials said the goal is to provide public green space in park that could include a walking trail, shelter houses and a playground. The property, which is adjacent to Northside Christian Church, has natural features “that will make it attractive to people,” Klink said.
Jeffers said adding a park in the northeastern portion of Floyd County would also alleviate some of the strain on Community Park.
Don Lopp, Floyd County director of operations and county planner, said public input will be a major component in forming the master plan.
“I think we’re excited about the opportunity to start with the five-year master plan, and we’ll have information on upcoming public outreach efforts sometime early this summer,” Lopp said. “We’ll have a set of community forums and other opportunities for public outreach so that we can devise a plan — one where there’s a lot of public input, and we’re meeting the goals of the public as it relates to parks.”