Warsaw city officials will unveil the new Center Lake Recreational Trail in early December and those checking out the quarter-mile cement path that snakes along the lake’s shoreline will find several new amenities.
Visitors will find a continuous path that stretches from the Center Lake Plaza all the way east to Bixler Park and the new boat ramp near Ind. 15.
In between, they’ll find a slightly wider and longer beach, four new lifeguard stations, room set aside for a beach volleyball net (next spring) on the east end of the beach and 14 cement pads for future park benches.
Also in store, perhaps next year, will be the installation of a new 90-foot pier that is replacing the old pump house west of the beach.
Much of the project was recently completed.
The $1 million recreational trail – funded with a donation from the Sasso family — is the third major project completed this year at Center Lake Park. The others are the adjacent Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion and the nearby parks office.
Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer said it represents the biggest changes in the parks department since Central Park was completed 29 years ago.
“This is probably, in the 39 years I’ve been here, as far as projects happening boom, boom, boom, this is probably the biggest year I’ve seen,” Plummer said.
While the parks board has some other smaller projects in the future they’ve reached a major milestone.
“As far as the infrastructure, I think we’re in a good place here – once we get the piers in,” Plummer said.
The trail helps connect many of the existing amenities and adds a sense of flow, Plummer said. Kiddieland, the new pickleball courts and basketball courts — all east of the pavilion — are now more easily accessible.
The city previously had two guard stands, but added two because it represents the number of guards normally on duty at the same time, Plummer said.
Much of the entire area is now more easily accessible for the disabled, Plummer said.
He said they continue to look at ways to connect Center Lake Park with Pike Lake Park, which sits to the east of Ind. 15. City officials at one point looked at the idea of a skywalk over the state highway, but determined it was not workable.
Plummer said conversations about that project are ongoing.
He said it’s all part of linking city attractions.
“It’s not cheap doing trails and connectivity, but it’s a little piece of the puzzle at a time,” he said. “Someday we’ll get there.”
Some work still needs to be done.
The city hopes to remove the old, crumbling pier at Center Lake near the pavilion next year after further research determined it will cost less than earlier expected.
The new 90-foot pier that encompasses part of the old pump house to the west will accommodate both boaters and fishing enthusiasts.
Both pier projects are dependent upon finding new sources of money to cover the costs.
Plummer said they also want to construct a fishing pier by the boat ramp.
Plummer said the park board will have to address controlling bicycle traffic along the trail to ensure safety.
The city will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail on Dec. 11.