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Michael Farmer knows benefits of a childhood with access to nature.
The Ellettsville town manager said this could be a big year for parks and trails, as the town looks to invest in interconnected recreational experiences and form the basis of a parks department.
Farmer grew up in Ellettsville, and fondly recalls time spent by the creek at Campbell's Park.
"If you just go down there, sit along the banks and let the water do the talking, it'll take your pain away," he said.
He wants Campbell's Park to be accessible to everyone and become the anchor of a park system in Ellettsville. Ideally, developments this year will set the stage for further expansion of parks and trails, as well as the establishment of a town parks department.
With funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and a potential Next Level Trails grant, Farmer said Ellettsville will build new parks and expand upon existing ones. The goal is to link them with a network of trails, which will also connect with other trails in the county including the Karst Farm Greenway.
Farmer said these plans are aligned with community feedback from the Envision Ellettsville project. The time is right in terms of funds as well. Farmer said Ellettsville is in a strong fiscal position amid a period of rapid growth.
The idea may be attractive to Ellettsville parents because it will expand options for recreation closer to home.
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Alyssa Brehl is a fourth grade inclusion teacher at Edgewood Intermediate School. She and husband Nick take their children to parks outside of Ellettsville like Karst Farm Park in Monroe County and Switchyard Park in Bloomington, or to local school playgrounds in Ellettsville on the weekends. She would "definitely" welcome plans for more parks and trails in town.
"Having more places to go that are closer would be wonderful," Brehl said. She said it would be good to have alternatives to often-crowded Bloomington parks.
With ARPA funds totaling $1.5 million, the town will spend between $400,000 and $700,000 on flood mitigation along Vine Street and the Heritage Trail. Farmer hopes to allocate another $700,000 to parks and trails, $140,000 of which has already been spent on new park equipment. While details need to be ironed out ahead of the final proposal, Farmer expects to bring concrete plans to the town's parks board within a few months.
Some of the town's plans hinge on whether it receives a Next Level Trails grant from the state of Indiana, which would bring in more than $1 million. Farmer said the town's application, made possible by work from the planning department, cleared the first round of selection.
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If the town is successful in getting a NLT grant, Farmer said he hopes to shift some of the ARPA funds for parks toward developing a basic trail from the town hall to the Karst Farm Greenway. Connecting Ellettsville to the rest of the county's trails remains a priority, Farmer said.
"We have all these natural places like the Stewart property and the 50 acres that the town hall is built on," Farmer said. "We have the nature, we have the trees, we have the wilderness and we want to build a system where you can come and be accommodated with things you need when you have kids and play and recreate and travel the trails that will interconnect our town."
Town management has identified areas to build new parks or expand existing ones, including Campbell's Park, the baseball fields next to it and 50 acres of woodland owned by Ellettsvillenear the town hall.
Farmer said there should be playground equipment installed at the park near the Ellettsville Town Hall by mid-summer, as well as trees and rock features.
Contact Patrick McGerr at email@example.com, 812-307-5636, or follow @patrickmcgerr on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Ellettsville will install new park equipment, expand trails