JASPER — After more than a year of construction, the opening of the Parklands is just weeks away.
The Jasper Parks & Recreation Department will open the 75-acre nature park on Saturday, July 7, with two public events: a dedication at 10:30 a.m. and an opening ceremony at 1 p.m.
The roughly $7 million park is located on the north side of the city near Jasper High School. The entrance is off 15th Street.
The park includes a 2-mile paved trail that wraps around the edge of the park, as well as several gravel trails criss-crossing the park, a pavilion that citizens can rent for events, three ponds connected by waterfalls and several features geared toward kids including a music playground, splash pad and tree fort. People will also be allowed to sit on and play in the water around the smaller set of waterfalls and fish in the middle pond that sits next to the pavilion.
Although the park is 90 percent complete, Park Board President Roger Seger stressed that the park won’t be 100 percent when it opens in July.
The pavilion, though mostly complete, still needs to have more lighting installed, and many of the wildflowers, trees and grasses will still need to grow in.
“You can’t grow grass in May, June or July,” Seger said. “It doesn’t happen.”
The Parklands is still considered an active construction site, and will be until the opening July 7. The City asks members of the public to stay off the property.
Although the cosmetics won’t be up to the park board’s standards, citizens will still be able to enjoy the park’s features.
The fitness stations along the outer path are ready, as are the adventure playgrounds and splash pad. Construction crews plan to finish the paving on Thursday.
The fishing pond will be stocked soon, and people can now schedule rentals at the pavilion.
The Common Council approved the rental fee schedule for the pavilion at its May meeting. Monday through Thursday, rentals for less than three hours will require a $100 booking fee and a $50 refundable security deposit. All other rentals, such as for weddings or other events, will require a $100 booking fee, $200 rental fee and $200 refundable security deposit. Events will also require a $2-per-person plate fee.
At the Tuesday meeting, the Park Board approved the rules for the pavilion, which are modeled after those at the Habig Center and the Train Depot. Renters will be required to pay a security deposit when they book the facility, and they will be responsible for cleaning up after their event. Smoking will not be allowed in or around the pavilion. Alcoholic beverages will be allowed at pavilion events, as will catered food, as long as the renters choose from the parks department’s list of approved caterers and licensed bartenders.
“As long as all of that is done correctly, you get your deposit given back to you,” said Janessa Wagner, special events coordinator for the parks department.
Wagner is responsible for managing reservations and events at the pavilion.
The park as a whole will remain open from dawn to dusk, and parks department staff expect the Parklands to be filled with people. Mayor Terry Seitz touted the park as the premier park for Jasper and a selling point for the city.
Of all the people who played a part in the project, Seger and Parks Department Director Ken Buck may be the most proud of the Parklands. Both have spent years planning for the park and countless hours tending to every detail of the construction.
“My opinion, it’s going to be the nicest park we have in the City of Jasper,” Buck said. “And even in the state of Indiana.”