Parks director makes plans for Flat Run Veteran's Park future

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By Joshua Shepherd

By Josh Shepherd, News writer
Though there has been some general deviations from the 2004 vision plan for Flat Run Veteran’s Park, Parks and Recreation Director Darrell Baxter said that the activities  that the plan outlined are still viable.


How soon those plans will be realized, however, is much harder to judge.
For example, in the most recent meeting of the Harrison County Fiscal Court, it was announced that a grant from the Department of Fish and Wildlife had been approved to install a handicapped accessible fishing pier at the River Road park.
But those who may be anticipating tossing a line off said pier in the near future will have to exercise some patience.
“The grant has been approved, but we’re probably another 16-18 months away from getting the funding. Maybe less, but you never know,” Baxter said.
That is the frustrating thing for a city or county government official when trying to build upon a vision. There are frequently huge gaps of time between making applications for a grant, getting it approved, then having it actually funded.
And none of that includes the bid process nor the labor necessary to install the new fields or facilities, he said.
In 2004, before the city and county had even decided to put Parks and Recreation under a unified umbrella, Brandstetter Carroll was commissioned to devise a master plan for Veteran’s Park at an estimated cost of $25,000.
The master plan sits in Baxter’s office and he points to the many places where there have already been deviations from the initial vision.
Most notably, Baxter said, is that there was no provision in the 2004 plan for the Farmer’s Market in the front entrance.
“I think most people would agree that the farmer’s market has been one of the best things to come into the park. It’s a great facility. But it also shows that this master plan is best used as a guide rather than an exact blueprint for what could go out there,” Baxter said.
At the time of the proposal, the efforts to restore and preserve the Handy House had not been organized. If renovation efforts are successful, then it would be appropriate to see how that historic building can be integrated into the park’s overall development, Baxter said.
As opposed to the Fish and Wildlife grant that has only been approved, Baxter said that Parks and Recreation will receive $85,000 in funding on a grant that was approved about a year and half ago.
Baxter credits Magistrate Bradley Copes for doing a lot of the leg work in submitting this grant which calls for the installation of a children’s educational fish pond at Veteran’s Run Park as well as installing about 700 feet in walking trails around the pond.
“It’s obvious where the new trail will likely go because it complete the existing walking track circuit, but there is some work yet to do before we get the project started. We have until 2015 to finish. Meeting that deadline should not be a problem,” Baxter said.
Other projects slated for Veteran’s Park development include the Cynthiana Rotary Club’s funding of two outdoor basketball courts.
“These will move us a few steps closer to the general plan,” Baxter said.
Since assuming his role as director of Parks and Recreation last September, Baxter is still feeling out his role and doing what he can to ensure that existing recreational activities continue.
“What I’d like to see in the next year or two is an upgrade in the concession stand at River Road Park. It’s good, but there are some things we could add there that would enhance its quality and, hopefully, its revenues,” Baxter said.
For this winter, in addition to basketball, Baxter is hoping to see growth in volleyball, particularly coed volleyball.
He is also looking into the possiblity of introducing an indoor soccer program to Cynthiana. He has seen the game played in large facilities, but he feels that the game can be modified to fit the smaller confines of the city gym.
“We could do 3-on-3 with goalies. It’s a very fast-paced game that’s as fun to watch as play. Players can use the walls in the game. We would have to do something to reinforce the windows, but if there is a way to fit a small season in among basketball, volleyball and other activities, I think it would be worth trying,” Baxter said.
One advantage Baxter said he has as the new director is that Cynthiana already has a good collection of ball fields along River Road and Oddville.
“We are fortunate to have excellent existing facilities that are a lot better than a lot of places. As long as they are getting used, then we’ll look for ways to grow and expand,” Baxter said.