by Eric Stearley
It’s an exciting time for the City of Wabash. In so many areas, the city is being updated, transformed, and repurposed in an effort to create a vibrant, modern small town. In all the excitement, a local group saw one area of the city that was not being addressed through these efforts: the city’s small, neighborhood parks.
The Hanna Park Project Committee was created as a collaborative effort between local service organizations with a single goal in mind: take responsibility for one of Wabash’s neighborhood parks and completely transform it, from a largely unused and ignored space into a destination for local families and children. With the help of other local service clubs, businesses, and individuals, the committee is working to ensure that its vision becomes a reality.
On Oct. 1, the Kiwanis Club’s Board of Directors voted to donate $15,000 to the project, more than half of the club’s service budget for the year.
“I am thrilled with the club’s decision to commit to the Neighborhood Parks Project,” said Wabash Kiwanis Club President Jordan Tandy. “We’ve always had an active and service-oriented membership, but I don’t know that we’ve ever tackled something of this magnitude before. The board’s decision to make this significant contribution is a great demonstration of the club’s commitment to our mission, which is to serve children.”
The idea for the project originally came from a Kiwanis member.
“Judy Ward, she’s the president-elect, she had the idea of focusing on one of the neighborhood parks,” said Tandy.
Wabash has three small neighborhood parks: Hanna Park on East Hill Street, South Side Park on Vernon Street, and Broadmoor Park on Broadmoor Drive.
“I talked to Todd Titus, the parks superintendent, and I kind of asked, ‘which park could we get the most bang for our buck,’” Tandy continued.
The answer, it turned out, was Hanna Park. The park is most familiar to people who live in Wabash’s historic district and those who travel in and out of town on Old 24. It is also just a short walk uphill and around the corner from Paradise Spring Historical Park. While the park has a pavilion and basketball court, both are showing their age. In addition, the park lacks playground equipment of any kind.
“I don’t know how many people go by Hanna Park. It’s on the way to Lagro, but it’s basically on the corner of town right now,” said Tandy. “We really want it to be something cool enough that it’s going to be a destination for people.”
The current vision includes a large playground system, as well as rejuvenation of the existing facilities. The park will continue to be maintained by the city, and the committee has been in close contact with the parks department throughout the planning process. During this process, the committee soon found out that quality playground equipment is pricey.
“Going in, I thought, ‘Well, if we can put together 10,000 bucks for a playground, we can get something pretty impressive,” said Tandy. “That barely gets us a swing set.”