Beech Acres athletic fields become a park
The property containing the athletic fields at the Beech Acres Parenting Center had been managed by the Anderson Park District since 1993 and used by the community since the late 1950’s. Early in 1997, the same year the Nagel Park property lease expired, the opportunity arose to secure the land as a park for future generations. Because purchasing the land was not planned for in the APD’s 1992 Master Plan, the APD managed within the current budget framework to sell bonds that will be paid back over a 15-year time span; thus, the 26.9 acres became Beech Acres Park. This acquisition was essential since it was determined that the location and nature of this land is of great importance to the community.
Expanding the offerings of Beech Acres Park
After 1997, the APD began preparing for its next planning cycle. In doing so, the APD conducted focus groups and surveys to better determine what the residents of Anderson would like to see within the next 5-7 years for the APD new Master Plan. The focus groups and surveys showed the Beech Acres Park development as the most supported park improvement of 8 possible choices should the APD’s Operating Levy pass in November of 2000. On November 7, 2000, the APD’s Operating Levy did pass and so, with the limited remaining tax funds, plans were underway to develop this area into a park with amenities similar to that at Juilfs Park.
The APD created a design concept for the park using input gathered from Anderson Residents through a number of surveys, focus groups, and public planning meetings. The final park design consisted of amenities that catered to a wide variety of both passive and active recreational interests.
Partnering with Parkside Church
The APD embarked on the initial construction of the park in the summer of 2001 by expanding the existing parking lot on the east side of the park. The east lot is the same lot that was created through a partnership with the neighboring Parkside Church in 1999. Because both the church and the park required additional parking than what was available at the time, the park district and the church agreed to build a shared lot that would be used by church goers on Sunday mornings and used by park goers during all other times.
For the main lot, the park district provided the land; Parkside Church covered the costs of construction. The partnership for the lot expansion worked in a similar manner: the park district provided the land and approximately one-third of the construction costs; Parkside Church once again covered the remaining costs of construction. The parking lot expansion provided over 100 additional parking spaces and contains a pedestrian sidewalk from Parkside Church to the park.
The APD greatly appreciates this generous contribution from Parkside Church to the residents of Anderson Township. This partnership is a terrific demonstration of wise use of both organizations’ limited resources.
The RecPlex at Beech Acres Park
Adjacent to Beech Acres Park is the RecPlex, which is home to the APD Recreation Department. The gym, classrooms and office space enable the APD to provide year-round, indoor recreation opportunities for the community including summer camps, adult and youth sports leagues, children’s programs and special events.
The APD has leased a portion of the RecPlex, formerly the Geiger Center, from the Beech Acres Parenting Center since 1990. In 1994, the opportunity for the APD to lease the entire building presented itself, so the APD jumped at the chance to expand its offerings for youth and adults.