A map provided by the city shows the general layout of the proposed park, with a few ideas. Map provided.
A map provided by the city shows the general layout of the proposed park, with a few ideas. Map provided.
The city unveiled plans Tuesday to develop a large park near the municipal airport that Parks and Recreation Superintendent Larry Plummer describes as having the potential to be a "gamechanger."

Plummer told the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday that the airport is willing to shift control of the city-owned property to the parks department. The airport has leased the property for farming for years.

The 60-acre tract is north of the east-west runway and southwest of CRs 300N and 100E.

If developed, it would be the largest park in the city and would nearly double the total acreage that makes up the city park system, Plummer said.

He compared it to the development of Central Park in the 1990s.

"I see this as having just as much of an impact on our parks system as Central Park," he said.

Park Board members were given two renderings of how the park could be designed.

A home near the middle of the tract of land would remain private.

Ideas in the renderings included a cricket field, a soccer field, kickball field, disc golf and a 2-mile pedestrian path.

Plummer said they're also considering permitting dogs on leashes inside the entire park as well.

City Planner Justin Taylor emphasized that plans are far from being finalized, but said anyone with ideas about what could be included should speak up soon.

Tuesday's announcement came the same day the Board voted to approve final plans for the park department's five-year plan.

While the newly proposed park was not specifically mentioned in the five-year plan, Plummer said it meets two goals – establishing a park on the north side and more acreage.

He said he was unsure how fast the park could develop, but added that would depend to a certain degree on grants and other types of money for construction. The park may very well be developed in phases, he said.

The Board also saw an update on development of a boardwalk along Center Lake beach. The new plan includes the removal of the Center Lake pier.

Plummer said they will eventually remove the pier and replace it with two fishing piers to the east and west of the beach.

The swimming area would remain, he said.

The city learned a few years ago that the cement pier causes some stagnation and sets the stage for E. coli. Plummer said the city's insurance carrier also asked that it be removed.

The lake waters are no longer deep enough for diving. Diving boards were removed years ago and the city prohibits diving off the pier. These days, it's used by those fishing.

In another matter, the Board chose to continue to have Steve Haines remain as president and Larry Ladd as vice president. Ladd was also sworn in for another four-year term by Mayor Joe Thallemer.