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Wesselman-Roberts Park Big Vision Update: Parkour, Golf Course Reforestation, New Trails and Hundreds of Trees

Jan 23 City master plan.jpg
City of Evansville
Page 1 of the new overall vision for the parks.
Long-Term Vision for Wesselman Park

The City of Evansville has released an updated “big vision” plan for the future of Wesselman Park and Roberts Park — which includes adding some unique features, and making big changes to others.

The city plans to re-forest the former par-three golf course which was closed in 2019. Part of the updated parks plan is to plant hundreds of trees overall with many in the former par-three course.

They’re calling it “Successional Meadows Wet Woods Reforestation” and will include nature trails and trails and environment education.

Interim Parks Director Steve Schaefer says this like the overall “vision,” this is a long-term project.

“It'll take decades,” he said. “However, you have to start sometime. And this plan is not just for the users of today's park, but it's for future generations. And we have been talking with Wesselman Nature Society about bringing in experts, because we want this to be repopulated with native Hoosier trees.”

According to the city, the updated vision includes10 acres of green space 45 acres of woods and 2.5 miles of trails, along with recreational features like tennis, pickleball and basketball courts.

The short-term projects include improvements to the Boeke Road entrance, Hartke Pool and a new children’s playground.

First, Schaefer said he’ll meet with stakeholders such as the Wesselman Neighborhood Association to share potential plans to revamp the entrance to the park.

“So we're trying to communicate with the key stakeholders as well as we move this overall plan forward,” he said.

Regarding Hartke Pool — there’s an audit study being conducted which will supply suggestions and options for improvements.

Other long term projects include a parkour area.

Stephen Schaefer_Evansvill Dep Mayor.jpg
File Photo
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WNIN News
Deputy Mayor and Interim Parks Director Steve Schaefer speaks at a parks board meeting in June.

“Adding that element is something new,” Schaefer said. “Having an outdoor course, is something that I think would be attractive to a lot of people and, you know, it's a new amenity, so might as well make it part of this plan.”

He said they’ll also gauge community interest in parkour. According to jump.pk, parkour is “running, jumping, climbing and a vast array of specialist movements to overcome obstacles, whilst also building strength, power, fitness and endurance.”

There is no specific timeline yet but the city has $1 million allocated for Roberts Park improvements this year.

These funds have allowed the overall project to start, though each project will require public and private funding separately, and there is no specific timeline for any part of the project.

This updated plan was shared with the city park’s board. This plan began in 2014 and has changed significantly since inception.

“The original concept back in 2014 had a skate park,” Schaefer said. “Well, as everyone knows, we're now building a skate park on the riverfront. So there are three items that have been moved around in the plan. And then some additional components that have been added.”

One item “moved” included the dog park which will be developed across the street.

Possibly one of the most anticipated feature are multiple Pickleball courts. Schaefer said they’ve received approval from the Parks Board to bid out that project. “And hopefully, in the near future, we'll have some estimates and revise quotes on what it would cost for that proposal.”