The Leo Cedarville Park Department will cut the ribbon May 27 at Riverside Gardens Park, at Schwartz and Grabill roads, to inaugurate its many improvements and officially open the summer season.
Among the additions are swings and playground equipment, a splash pad and “play creek,” two lighted sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a pond and concrete paths.
Students from nearby Leo Elementary School, town officials, past and present park board members, local individuals and businesses who donated money for the project and representatives of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be in attendance at the noon ceremony.
The DNR provided a $200,000 matching grant that was more than doubled by the Leo Cedarville community through a loan from IAG Bank and Community Enhancement and Development Income Tax (CEDIT) funds. Final cost of the improvements is around $800,000.
According to Park Board President Mark Hamilton, the mulch paths were replaced with concrete walkways to encourage roller bladers, joggers, walkers, strollers and individuals with disabilities. One of the horseshoe pits is surrounded by concrete to accommodate persons in wheelchairs.
The paths crisscross and loop around the entire 10-acre property and pass under the bridge to the boat launch. Future plans include hooking the park paths to a trail system that would connect Leo and Cedarville. Bids for that project are expected to be sent to contractors in May with construction beginning in the fall.
Hamilton pointed out that the 40-foot-diameter splash pad is unique in that the children can start it themselves. It will shoot water in all directions from numerous pipes and outlets for a specified length of time and then turn off automatically. The kids can restart.
“Instead of installing a filtering and recycling system,” says Hamilton, “the water comes from a well and runs off the pad down a series of steps in the 15-foot-wide by 125-foot-long 'play creek' and ultimately drains into the pond.”
The pond, he says, will be stocked with a variety of fish.
“The fish, however, won't be of catching size for a couple of years. We are encouraging people to also use it for remote control boating in summer and ice skating in the winter. Rules for its use will be posted. Wading and swimming will not be permitted.”
Lights on the volleyball courts will come on automatically at dusk and turn off at 10 p.m.
Activities throughout the summer include concerts nearly every Friday evening at the Grand Gazebo starting May 30 with the Leo High School Marching Band and concluding August 15 with a car show and a performance by Joe Justice. For performance times and dates, check out the Leo Cedarville web site at www.leocedarville.com.
“Our plan,” says Hamilton, “is to find ways to get people of all ages and abilities to come out and utilize the park and enjoy the great outdoors in this outstanding setting along the St. Joseph River. We'll continue to make improvements and additions because it not only benefits our area residents, but also our local businesses.”