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Burdette Park Seeks $1 Million in Upgrades

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Tim Jagielo
Burdette Park Executive Director Zach Wathen stands amid the aging Burdette Park Campground playground equipment which should his plan be approved, will be replaced by new equipment.

New playgrounds, dog park, pickleball courts resurfacing part of plan; Commission set to pass spending ordinance for County Council to approve

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Tim Jagielo
Katie Soto of Evansville spins a merry-go-round at Burdette Park in Perry Township for daughter Arabella, 6. This particular equipment will not be replaced under the park plan.

On Monday, February 6, Katie Soto of Evansville spins daughter Arabella, 6, on a merry-go-round a little faster, at her urging.

Burdette Park is Vanderburgh County’s only county park and it will very likely be receiving some significant upgrades.

Burdette Park Executive Director Zach Wathen has asked the County Commission and Council for help funding several upgrades including playground equipment and a dog park.

The County Commission is expected to draft and pass an ordinance on Tuesday Feb. 7, to make an official request for funds, which the County Council would vote upon.

Wathen proposed several changes, replacements and upgrades at the previous County Commission meeting.

“We’re trying to update the park across the board,” Wathen said. “In the proposal is two major playground upgrades, which would add two major play systems, several swing sets, and a couple other features as far as ‘new age’ monkey bars and a new feature that is basically a new-age merry go-round.”

The “radical rotator” is ground level and wheelchair accessible. The monkey bars rotate as they are climbed. He’s also budgeting for canopy-covered swings.

These features approached roughly $1 million which also include resurfacing pickleball courts.

Wathen said the playground equipment such as monkey bars and metal slides have already been removed because they’re unsafe. Many pieces are from the 1980s.

“A lot of the stuff we have now, it's given a lot of enjoyment and use to families and kids out here,” he said. “But it's just time for it to go. A lot of it's rusted out. We've already tore out a lot of the really unsafe stuff.” These features would be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, with few stairs and a lot of ramps.

Receiving funding requires a bit of back-and-forth between the council and commission. In these cases, the commission controls the funds, but the council must approve the use of them.

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File Photo
Vanderburgh County Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave at the 2022 State of the County event in Evansville.

“(The council acts) upon request for appropriations by the elected officials,” Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave said. “And so the council's role in this will eventually be to approve or disapprove the appropriation sent to them by the commissioners for Burdette Park.”

That appropriation is expected this Tuesday. She said as a county park, administrators like Wathen work directly for the Commission.

Wathen approached the County Commission in late January and the Council last Tuesday. Next, the County Commission will send the funding request which Council will vote on in March.

Musgrave said both government bodies are supportive. “I mean, that's a passion of both of ours to make sure that all children are given the opportunity to play.”

Wathen said they’ll be using American Relief funds to pay for it.

Concerning the approximate budget of $1 million budget, he said supply chain issues easily impact how long a construction quote can last. “I've never seen anything like this,” he said. “Quotes used to be good for 60 days. Now you're lucky if you can get it for two weeks, and then you’ve got to redo it.”

He said the dog park could see construction this spring with playgrounds in the summer and fall. A new putt-putt course will take longer.