News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

November 30, 2013

EDITORIAL: Preserving, improving our parks

Amenities have an impact on community livability

TERRE HAUTE — Few amenities more greatly affect the quality of life in Terre Haute than its public parks. City officials understand that reality. Residents appreciate vibrant facilities. Existing and potential employers see a great system of parks and trails as evidence that the town will help them attract and retain talented workers.

Pretty much everyone grasps the value of investing in the local parks, except, perhaps, the leadership of state government in Indiana. Since the imposition of state property-tax caps in 2008, funding for Terre Haute city parks has shrunk by 25 percent, from $3.4 million annually to $2.6 million this year. The Parks Department has lived lean, as a result, and has done well to maintain, mow and operate the cherished greenspaces.

But, as a master plan produced for the city by HWC Engineering emphasized, Terre Haute “must do more than tread water in the next five years.

Action is overdue on many critical issues. Deferred maintenance must be addressed. Golf operations need investment. Aquatics facilities are aging rapidly. The trails are not so new anymore and need work.”

Hoosier cities struggling to simply preserve status quo must not be accepted as a natural evolution of fiscal austerity. Low taxes and tax breaks indeed lure some companies to Indiana.

Still, creating jobs — good-paying jobs — requires communities to be funded to a degree that provides for more than just basic services and protection.

Good parks, for example, demand upgrades periodically and those are not inexpensive. Deming Park, Terre Haute’s 160-acre gem, needs a new pool. Hulman Links needs a new irrigation system.

Both parks stand as selling points to company site-scouts touring the town. So those improvements are an important asset for high-caliber economic development, especially in a state with the nation’s 10th-lowest per-capita incomes and an unemployment rate still lingering above the national rate.

The city parks master plan for 2014 to 2018 takes into account the state funding situation, which isn’t likely to increase anytime soon. Perhaps the toughest recommendation in the plan calls for the city to consider dropping a few of its least utilized block parks — small spaces of less than a half-acre with a few trees and a picnic table — and turning their upkeep over to local businesses or neighborhood associations. Given the circumstances, the idea is pragmatic but concerning. Small parks — modest as they may be — offer recreational opportunities for low-to-middle-income neighborhoods, a point stressed in the master plan.

Some wise proposals in the plan include transferring the vacant Paul Dresser Memorial Park west of the Wabash River to the county, installing a splash pad at Sheridan Park, and hiring a part-time park ranger (at $13,000 a year) to curb costly vandalism.

The plan also sets a goal of making the two city golf courses self-sufficient by 2017, a target shared by Mayor Duke Bennett. Rea Park turned a small profit this season, while Hulman Links loses around $300,000 a year, though Bennett pointed out that city amenities in general are not money makers. Yet, by drawing more out-of-town golfers — that number increased at Hulman Links this season after new grass was planted in the fairways — the courses can close the gap and break even.

“Our goal is to shoot for that,” Bennett said. “Anything closer is better.”

Perhaps the key element of the plan — which the Parks Board has approved and now goes to the Department of Natural Resources for review — is the establishment of a park foundation, which would solicit private donations, grants and endowments. It will be crucial. Progress and improvement in the parks are necessities, not luxuries. “Over time, there’s some big things we need to do,” the mayor said. Our town’s livability and attractiveness is a priority to folks here.

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Editorials
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    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

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  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

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    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need

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    June 28, 2014

  • Editorial: A center for the future

    The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.

    June 26, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County

    Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.

    June 25, 2014

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    June 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Forging ahead

    Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.

    June 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker

    Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.

    June 18, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A woman in the House

    The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.

    June 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative

    Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success

    It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

    June 12, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA

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    June 11, 2014

  • Editorial: Playing the Nazi card

    There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.

    June 10, 2014

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    In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.

    June 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story

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    June 5, 2014 2 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
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    June 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.

    June 3, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention

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    May 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

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