The Herald Bulletin

April 6, 2013

Editorial: Athletic Park rebirth good idea, but where’s the money?


— A walking/running track. A woodland trail. A swimming pool. Soccer fields and basketball courts.

All of this sounds wonderful.

The $3.7 million price tag? Not so much.

The latest — and, perhaps, greatest — plan to revive Athletic Park in downtown Anderson conjures a vivid vision of a developed green space where young, middle-aged and old will participate in healthy pursuits. The plan (find a recent news story by searching for “Athletic Park” at www.theheraldbulletin.com) comes courtesy of the Anderson Morning Rotary Club.

The park could use some cleaning up, to say the least. Decades ago, it was truly a destination for swimming at Athletic Pool and harness racing at the nearby track. But the track hasn’t seen a race since Hoosier Park came to town, and the pool has been closed down in recent years. Aging and hit by vandalism, the pool is in desperate need of repairs, and part of the $3.7 million would be used for that purpose.

A fund-raising effort is afoot to help pay for the pool renovation. But deeper sources of money will be needed if the new Athletic Park is to become a reality. Every potential state and federal grant, as well as private donations, should be tapped.

If the money is secured for the project, the plan is to turn management of the park and pool over to the city. But long-term care and maintenance can be expensive, too. And when economic times get tough, as they have been since the recession hit in 2009, the city’s parks and recreation department is often first on the chopping block.

Something needs to be done about Athletic Park. The entire area is an eyesore and a highly visible one, situated as it is in the central part of the city.

The Rotary club and others have come up with intriguing plans for what the area might become.

How much longer will the community have to wait before the park is improved — by resurrection or by wrecking ball?