Outdoor Recreations - August 2012

One of the nice features of our community is our various outdoor recreational areas. Wether it’s taking a nice relaxing walk with the family, working on a leaf collection, playing sports, or playing with your pets, Greenfield has a place for you. And even though the kids are going back to school there’s still plenty of nice weather that will allow you to get out and tour our city parks.

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The first park that the City of Greenfield built was Riley Park. There are numerous activities that can be done in this park. On a hot day you can go swimming at the pool. Take the kids out and play on the several different play areas. Have a picnic or family gathering under one of the many shaded picnic sites. You can have a party in the shelter house. Play tennis on one of the six lighted tennis courts. Shoot some hoops on two of the lighted basketball courts. Test your skateboarding skills at the skate park. Play baseball on one of the five baseball diamonds. Take a quiet break in the stone pergola. Or go for a walk on the trail and open areas.

The City of Greenfield adopted an ordinance establishing Riley Park as the city’s first park.in July 1924. It was named after famed poet James Whitcomb Riley. This park is 40.54 acres along US 40 on the east side of downtown.

 

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Perhaps the most talked about item of the park today is one that no longer exist, the first Riley Pool. I remember swimming in the pool as a youngster in its later days of existence. It seemed larger than life at the time. Today only the concrete steps that led you down a small hill on the north side of the pool are the only reminants that the pool once stood in the open grass area.

It was made of brick and concrete. The locker rooms and entrances where underneath the pool area and it had a lone diving board. Today the current pool stands along Apple St. on the east side of the park. This pool was built in 1979.

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The Hancock County Historical Society Museum and offices are along the east edge of the park. They operate and maintain the Chapel in the Park and the old Log Jail. These facilities are open to the public on the weekends and by reservations.

The Chapel was built in 1854 and it was moved to the park in 1982. It was the Philadelphia United Methodist Church and stood in Philadelphia, Indiana on the south side of US 40. When the congregation outgrew the church they donated the building to the Historical Society and it was moved to it’s current location.

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The Old Log Jail was Hancock County’s third Jail it was built in 1854. It stood on the south side of the Courthouse Plaza. It was then moved west to the north side of South Street about a block away. It was used as a residence after an addition was made to the structure and new siding covered the logs. In 1964 Indiana Gas Company had bought two lots that would become home to their new offices. In razing the two residences they rediscovered the forgotten jail. The gas company made arrangements with the Hancock County Historical Society to have the jail moved to the park.

Both the Chapel and Log Jail provide an historical backdrop to the park. You’ll find many visitors learning about the history of their community and many artists that stop by to paint pictures of the two structures.

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The basketball courts were added in the late 1980’s. When they were first built people would come from all over to play. You would have to wait awhile for your turn to come up. A lot of people would go down just to watch some of the talent that came to town.

The baseball diamonds have also been a fixture in the park for many years. There’s nothing better then spending a summer day playing baseball in the park.

In the winter time the sledding hill is the main attraction. Many of kids have tried their best to reach the creek by flying down the hill.

Brandywine Creek runs right thru the middle of the park and makes for a nice scenic stop. There are several benches that you can stop and rest and take in the sights of the creek. If you brought your poll you could test your fishing skills or just watch the ducks paddle downstream. The creek was made famous by Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley in his poem “The Ole Swimming Hole”. In the early days of our city Riley and many other kids would spend the hot afternoons swimming in the creek.

The Stone Pergola is a short walk from the Shelter House. It’s built in the middle of hills, trees and a stony ravine. It makes a nice place to stop and read your book or have a picnic.

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Seniors in our community visit the Pat Elmore Center to enjoy many activities. This building is also home to a preschool, the Parks and Recreational Offices and Hancock County Meals on Wheels.

Once you’ve visited Riley Park the tour has just begun. There are several other places to explore.

On December 28, 1965 a deed was signed for ten acres of land to be used as a public recreation area to be known as Mary Moore Memorial Park. This park is located along Franklin Road on the High School property. This is a great place to hike and explore nature. In January 2010 the City of Greenfield and Greenfield School Corporation reached a lease agreement which gave the school control and use of the park. The school has done a great job in fixing the park up and making it an even better place to explore and at the same time tying it into their campus.

In August of 1976 The City created Commons Park. It’s a small one-half acre neighborhood park located between residences on W. Fifth Streets. This is a great place for neighborhood kids to play.

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In 1984 Central Park was established. It was called Central Park because it was centrally located in downtown Greenfield. This park was a small urban park which sat on a 1-acre lot on East Street directly behind the Post Office. This park had play equipment and shady picnic areas. Due to the growth of the Post Office in July 2008 the park closed. The equipment was moved to Brandywine Park.

In 1986 the City of Greenfield purchased land for the establishment of a sports park. On March 30, 1990 this park was officially opened. It’s a 52-acre sports complex located at 900 E. Davis Road on the south side of Greenfield.

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This new park gave Greenfield a place for our soccer fans a place to play and grow their sport. Today there are 20 soccer fields. There is also two adult and one girl’s softball diamonds. There are two lighted beach volleyball courts and play equipment. There are also plenty of open fields to roam and Brandywine Creek runs through the western edge of the property.

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The Pennsylvania Railroad once roared through town until the mid-1980’s. Since then the old railroad beds disappeared. But beginning in on October 24, 1998 the City of Greenfield brought that path back to life creating the Pennsy Trail. The railroad bed was cleared and 3-miles of asphalt trail were laid. The trail begins at the 200 block of Center Street and ends at 400 East. Additional phases have since been constructed to add to the trail. Starting at Center Street the trail now runs an additional 3 miles to the west, curving its way across the Covance property and stops at a trail head located on 150 West. This is a great place to walk, run, and bike or roller blade.

As you head west on the trail you can stop for a break at the nice gazebo that was donated and constructed by the Greenfield Rotary Club. It has a nice view of the country from that point. Every year during the Riley Festival the Riley Run takes place on the trail. And in the summer time the Pennsy Trail Art Festival takes over the trail in the downtown area.

In the summer of 2001, with construction of a subdivision development, the 14-acre Henry B. Wilson Park was constructed. This secluded park is located at east end of Martindale Dr. in the Brandywine Village Subdivision. This park has mulched trails in a wooded setting along Brandywine Creek.

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In January 2002 a new 60-acre park was purchased by the PARC’s Inc., which in turn donated it to the City of Greenfield. It is located on the corner of Franklin Rd. and Co. Road 300 N. This park would become Greenfields largest park.

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This park was designed as a nature park complete with a fishing pond, natural plantings and a dog park.

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Additions have since been made and it now includes asphalt trails that allow you to walk through the nature areas and explore. A gazebo restroom facilities and outdoor entertainment are have been added to make events possible.

In November 2004, 13-acres of land located off McKenzie Road was donated by Mary Macy and is named Macy Memorial Park. At this time the city is in the working stages of determining the future use of this park.

In August of 2006 40-acres of woodland preserve located on Morristown Pike and Steele Ford Road was donated by Herb and Judy Brown. This park was established to be kept in its natural woodland state.

As you can see Greenfield has dedicated a lot of work to establishing a great park system that all can benefit from and there’s space to expand in the future. There’s nothing more enjoyable than getting out and visiting one or all of these parks and I challenge everyone to participate in supporting our recreational areas.

 

By Greg Roland

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