Docks damaged by ice

Pier pressure: Ice floes have damaged the pier at Fairbanks Park. City park personnel closed the entrance of the pier to the public on Jan. 24, 2018.

Several topics, including two separate boat docks likely to be constructed at Fairbanks Park, were discussed and analyzed during the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Board monthly meeting Wednesday afternoon at Torner Center.

Terre Haute Parks and Recreation superintendent Eddie Bird said the board is seeking a Department of Natural Resources grant to help pay for one of the docks, which would replace a previous one that was destroyed by heavy ice floes in January.

“The mayor [Duke Bennett] has someone working with us to help write that grant,” Bird told the board. “It’s for a dock that we can move in and out of the water, so we won’t have the same damage with it.”

If the grant is approved, Bird hopes construction of the dock can begin this summer. Deadline for submitting the grant is June 1.

The other dock, which would sit about 100-150 yards away from the park-operated dock, was proposed by the Wabash Valley Crew rowing club.

WVC volunteer Michael Sacopulos, who happens to be an attorney, represented the club at the meeting.

“Once the dock actually gets put into place, [the club] would dedicate it back to the city,” Terre Haute city attorney Eddie Felling said. “That would give [the city] full control of the dock moving forward. It would allow us to accept it under our insurance policy.”

The board unanimously approved the WVC to proceed with installation of its dock, which should be completed by July 31.

Sacopulos told the board that a rowing club requires a different type of dock than a conventional park dock next to water — in this case, the Wabash River — and the WVC is willing to pay for it.

“They have sections of a dock ready to be put in place,” Felling pointed out. “It’s going to sit much lower in the water. ... They want to host a pretty large [rowing] event here by the end of the summer. It could potentially bring in a lot of people.”

Another item triggering interest at the meeting was the future expansion of the Vigo County Aquatic Center parking lot at Voorhees Park. The addition of 64 parking spots is part of Phase 1 in the lease agreement with the Vigo County School Corp.

“Some of their [Aquatic Center] events are bringing in pretty large crowds,” Bird said. “We’ve had some complaints from neighbors around the park that people are parking in front of their house.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the action.

The lot renovation is expected to begin in the late summer.


Other subjects brought up Wednesday:

• The Deming Park train, a longtime tradition, will be out of commission for an indefinite period of time.

“It actually caught fire,” Bird explained. “They repaired it ... but the engine is shot. It runs OK as long as there’s nobody riding the train. The engine is just not strong enough to pull people around.”

Bird said the department is looking for a new or used motor, adding that he’s considering a couple $300 options found online. Until a replacement is purchased and installed, “[the train] will be down for a while,” he confirmed.

• The Oakley Playground at Deming Park has been closed this week, but there’s hope it will reopen Friday afternoon.

“We installed two new slides,” Bird mentioned. “We had to dig out the support posts. We ordered the playground surface mix and we’re redoing the surface ourselves where we’re patching places.”

• The Deming Park pool is scheduled to open for the 2018 season June 1.

“We painted last week,” Bird noted. “The [water] pump was put in Monday.”

Speaking of the Deming Park pool, Bird said the department is in need of lifeguards for the summer. Job-seekers should apply online at in the next couple weeks.

• The annual Banks of the Wabash Festival, featuring Luehrs’ Ideal Rides, will take place from May 24 through June 2 at Fairbanks Park.

• It was suggested that the board consider bringing the First Tee Program to Rea Park golf course. The First Tee Program offers group lessons to children between the ages of 7 and 18, regardless of background or previous experience.

• Dan Patton was introduced as the new assistant director of parks and recreation for the Terre Haute Parks Department.

The next Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Board meeting is slated for 4:30 p.m. June 20 at Torner Center.

David Hughes can be reached at 812-231-4224 or at Follow David on Twitter @ TribStarDavid.

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General reporter/Sports reporter

David is a longtime Tribune-Star sportswriter whose primary duties were switched to the news department in late 2015. A cancer survivor, he enjoys hanging out with his family and staying fit with regular trips to the gym.

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