Valpo’s Central Park expansion could come late in 2013
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 1, 2012 7:10PM
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:26AM
VALPARAISO — The expansion of Central Park Plaza, which would include a pavilion for ice skating in winter and protection from weather in summer, could begin late next year.
“It all comes down to funding,” Parks and Recreation Director John Seibert said.
The Department of Parks and Recreation has been going over preliminary plans with stakeholders and contributors for their input, Seibert said.
The Parks Board should see some sort of plans by its January meeting for members’ input, and then it will go on to the residents for more comments.
The concept of using the land from the demolished family services building at the northwest corner of Indiana Avenue and Lafayette Street is still close to the original concept of a semi-enclosed ice rink.
However, the concept has morphed after public comments and as more thought gets put into it.
“That’s why we need to get this additional input, so we’re on the right track,” Seibert said.
The pavilion will be next to the current park stage, taking over that part of Lafayette.
Traffic will reroute to the left.
In summers, the farmers market will be in the pavilion.
The new building will also have a fireplace area, concession stand, storage area and some sort of “water feature.”
Seibert said whatever the water structure is, it will be decorative rather than interactive like the park’s splash pad, where children run through in swimsuits.
There could also be a smaller stage area.
The new land and pavilion would increase Central Park Plaza’s size to almost a full city lot.
“It’ll allow us to have larger events there. Right now, it’s land-locked,” he said.
Valparaiso is also looking at the feasibility of renting out the ice rink out for figure skating and junior hockey leagues.
Some people petitioned the Porter County Parks Department for someplace for hockey teams to practice, but the city won’t provide that.
“The area’s not big enough for a full-sized hockey rink,” Seibert said.
The pavilion would create winter programs for the park, which the city hopes will bring people downtown all year.
Seibert said the fireplace in the pavilion would serve as an attraction to sit and talk the same way a park bench does.
People would drift over to businesses from the park or go to downtown businesses because they’re near the park, he said.