Idea Fit For A Park

The City of Warren has available park space.

A group of individuals from several local corporations would like to set up a fitness park.

After a preliminary presentation given to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday afternoon, the group was encouraged to proceed.

Heidi Powley, Barb Babcock and Mary Hagan Double, all from Whirley Drinkworks, approached the committee to pitch the concept. Powley said that their larger committee exploring the park includes representatives from Whirley as well as Northwest Savings, Betts, United Refining and McKissock.

Powley said the project originated as a way “to meet our strategic goal to have more of a vitality in the community. One of the ideas that we had was to participate in the Make a Difference Day,” a national community service sponsored by Points of Light and USA Weekend magazine. “(It would be) a great way for us to get started on something that would be easy.”

Hagan Double explained that a fitness park would contain outdoor fitness equipment that is safe without supervision. “Kind of like a kid’s playground,” she told the commission. She explained that the equipment could be placed in a park or along a trail.

“We would do all the funding and all the work to get it in,” she said, explaining that they approached the committee to determine a suitable location for the park.

Powley said the project is still in its infancy. Before the real planning begins, she said, the group wanted to reach out to the commission to “get this going in the right direction.”

Hagan Double said the equipment in parks such as this is similar in quality to playground equipment and is often made by the same manufacturer.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said that a fitness park was in place at Crescent Park in the mid 1980s into the 1990s.

Several possible locations for such a park were discussed.

Powley said that there are benefits at Point Park, but that flooding and insects could pose problems.

Morck Park, at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and East Street near the entrance to the bike-hike trail, was also discussed. “We’re told it’s under-utilized,” Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau said.

Nau also raised the possibility of using the lower part of Crescent Park. “Where we have planting areas, there is a trail there,” she said. “They could go just off the trail.”

Babcock said the group is considering as many as 15 to 20 pieces of equipment within the scope of the project.

Commission member Kirk Johnson proposed that a few elements could be placed in several parks to encourage travel among the parks.

Powley raised the concern about individuals potentially charging to teach courses utilizing the equipment.

“I can’t see any scenario where anyone could set up shop, so to speak,” Nau said.

Powley said the group is “looking to make something significant happen” on Make A Difference Day, which is set for Oct. 26.

Commission Chairman Dennis Crandall said the speed of work “depends on how ambitious you are.” He explained that the commission is scheduled to meet next in June and could potentially forward a proposal to city council then. The committee could also meet in May should the project move quickly, he added.