On April 17, 1999, In a Within Comment column headlined “Sport complex a significant endeavor,” I wrotediscussed the start of a campaign to raise funds to build an outside leisure complex on 78 acres the Kendallville Park Board had actually obtained in 1997 for the city park and entertainment department.
In January that year the job committee unveiled a style that included 8 multi-use youth ball fields positioned in two 16-acre pinwheels with a centrally-located structure for concessions and bathrooms, three soccer fields, basketball courts, horseshoe pitching courts, a 10-foot large concrete path for bikes and pedestrians, landscaped pathways, lighting, irrigation and a maintenance building.
The unveiling followed 3 years of conversations with youth sports coaches and league officials, surveying youth to identify a need for such a center, checking out sports complexes in other communities, picking and acquiring a website, fundraising to spend for the land and picking a design engineer.
In 1997 the park board raised $218,000 to acquire 89 acres for the complex on Allen Chapel Roadway with contributions from the Cole Foundation, Dekko Foundation, Noble County Neighborhood Structure, Helmer Foundation and regional citizens. Eleven of those acres were on the east side of Allen Chapel Road where practice fields were later developed.
The roughly $1.4 million complex had a grand opening on Aug. 1, 2006, and full use in the spring of 2007. Only half of exactly what had actually been pictured was realized.
In July this year the park board embarked on another campaign to raise $2.38 million for Stage II that will include a second “pinwheel” of 4 multi-use, irrigated youth ball park, a structure with concessions and toilets, a three-quarter-size soccer field, lighting, a paved car park, paved sidewalks connecting the 2 pinwheels and soccer fields, nature tracks linking to Bixler Lake Park and a mobile theater. Paving the expansive parking is approximated to cost $600,000.
Lighting is also a pricey expense. The existing “pinwheel” of ball fields has 17 light towers.
An amphitheater near the west beach park balconies location remains in the park board’s updated five-year master plan. Pankop and Jansen said the project’s 2nd stage includes a mobile theater. Board members decided a mobile theater was much better than a long-term amphitheater that would deal with the west and block views of the lake. A mobile theater might be moved the park.
To date the park board has raised approximately $374,000 in private contributions, and a Dekko Foundation challenge grant will match every dollar raised up to $500,000. The structure will likewise provide an end-of-project grant of $500,000 that would be granted when the personal funding objective has actually been reached, according to Dr. Tom Jansen, a member of the park board, who is promoting the fundraising campaign like he provided for the very first stage 17 years back.
“Our objective right now is the raising the $126,000 in personal contributions for the $500,000 difficulty grant,” stated park and leisure department director Jim Pankop.
The Olive B. Cole Foundation has offered a $200,000 matching grant for public funds raised.
City board has actually pledged $25,000 in Community Black Advancement Grant money, and the park department will donate around $55,000 worth of “in-kind” deal with the job. “We wish to get the ground ready and turf planted next year because it takes about a year for the grass to grow and be playable,” stated Pankop this week.
Fundraising will continue in 2017. On Jan. 4 members of the Phase II committee, consisting of Pankop and Jansen, are scheduled to upgrade agents from the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority on the project and fundraising effort. The RDA manages the $42 million Regional Cities Effort. The KORC committee prepares to send at a later date an application for funding assistance.
In April 1999 when I talked with Tom Jansen about the job that would end up being the Kendallville Outdoor Entertainment Complex, he was adamant it must be done effectively and be a first-rate leisure complex. It has become so popular, the local youth baseball and softball leagues share the grounds through spring, summertime and fall with location, local and nationally sanctioned competitions. These competitions draw in numerous visiting players and spectators each weekend into October.
“Local restaurants and serviceentrepreneur desire us to to notify them beforehand when a big competition is at the complex,” said Pankop.
More ball fields, soccer fields and a mobile theater will indicate more leisure chances for residents and visitors.
Donations to the Phase II fundraising project are tax deductible. Choose up a promise card at the park department office in the Youth Center, 211 Iddings St. or call the park workplace for info at 347-1064.