BY KAT BRAZ
Summer is a great time to get outside and explore Greater Lafayette parks. With new playground installations, upgraded sporting facilities and greenspaces for humans and pups alike, there’s so much to appreciate about the area’s community parks.
“Investing in the future of our parks is so important when we think about quality of life in our community,” says Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski. “These park improvements enhance the overall experience for neighbors and visitors for years to come.”
S. Ninth Street & Beck Lane
Major improvements are coming to Armstrong Park, located on Lafayette’s south side, including a new playground.
“The new playground at Armstrong is going to be an amazing addition to the park,” says Roswarski. “Between the new playground and the many other park improvements, there is a lot to be excited about.”
The existing playground area will be doubled and feature rubber surfacing as well as multiple swings, slides and climbing features, including some pieces that stand 24-feet high. Existing tennis and basketball courts will be resurfaced, and new tennis nets and posts and new basketball goals will be installed.
Armstrong’s three baseball fields will receive a number of upgrades as well — new bleachers and concrete pads, grading and seeding of the fields, new roofs on all six dugouts and irrigation installed for field two.
3505 Greenbush St.
New playground equipment is being installed at
Munger Park this summer to replace existing equipment that had run its course. Lafayette Parks has playground safety inspectors on staff who receive certification through the National Recreation and Park Association. They monitor wear on playground elements to ensure pieces remain safe to use and are replaced on schedule, approximately every 20 years.
“I grew up with the metal slides at Columbian Park that burn your skin on a hot summer day,” says Jon Miner, director of operations for Lafayette Parks.
“Modern playground equipment is constantly redesigned to improve safety and incorporate different types of play. We evaluate our playground offerings across all the parks to provide a variety of options for children and parents.”
1635 Arlington Rd.
This one-acre neighborhood park on Lafayette’s north end is receiving a makeover. An aging tennis court was removed to make way for additional green space. The existing basketball courts are being resurfaced and new playground equipment is being installed.
Union Street & Creasy Lane
This spring, the city began expanding the existing parking lot at Macaw Park from about 30 spaces to 146 spaces. The popularity of pickleball — the Lafayette Indiana Pickleball Association boasts more than 300 members — drove part of the need for additional parking. Another phase planned for future years includes the addition of four more pickleball courts, according to Miner.
“One of the things we’re really excited about is the construction of a new dog park at Macaw,” Miner says. “It’ll have five different paddocks for different levels of play, including a small dog area. There will also be a doggy splash pad for water play.”
The membership-based dog park is scheduled to open in the fall. A new restroom building also will be added to support the expected increase in visitors.
Future plans call for an additional 12 pickleball courts — the first 12 were installed in 2018 — and a paved trail around the park, connecting to the Munger Park Trail.
“It’s already the largest group of outdoor pickleball courts in the state,” Miner says. “With the addition of a dog park and even more pickleball courts, we expect Macaw will become a destination park for the community.”
3630 McCarty Lane
CAT Park celebrated the opening of its all-inclusive sports field in May. The Tippy Stars, an inclusive baseball/softball program for individuals with special needs, played two games on the field, which is designed to host a variety of sports including baseball, softball, soccer and others. The field’s surface material is ADA compliant, providing individuals with all levels of physical abilities to participate.
A number of sponsors and community partners helped realize the project, including Caterpillar and Wabash Center. Wessler Engineering, Keystone Architecture and Kettelhut Construction generously donated staff time and expertise.
Also coming to CAT Park, an adaptive all-inclusive playground for youth and families. The specialized playground equipment is designed to foster active and engaging play for children of all abilities. Lafayette Parks is collaborating with Wabash Center as well as area families to ensure the playground design meets the needs and is inclusive of all.
Park & Wallace avenues
Lafayette Citizens Band held its 2023 opening concert at the Columbian Park amphitheater on Memorial Island over Memorial Day Weekend. The band is scheduled to hold concerts weekly on Thursdays through August 3 with a final concert on Labor Day — Monday, September 4.
“The Citizens Band did a show here last summer and loved it,” Miner says. “It spurred conversations to have the band relocate to Columbian Park for the entire season. We’re thrilled to have the band performing regularly in the amphitheater on Memorial Island. It’s exactly the type of community event that venue was created to host.”
At the Columbian Park Zoo, design planning has begun on a new primate exhibit. Additionally, the North American otter and eagle exhibits will be renovated. A zoo commissary building will also be constructed to provide housing for some species and provide space for staff to prepare meals for the animals. Plus, the African penguins have returned to their exhibit.
Cason Family Park
Cumberland Avenue, West Lafayette – Currently under construction
Construction began this year on the 30-acre Cason Family Park, which will feature nature-focused playgrounds, trails, water features, public
facilities and the Morris Schoolhouse. The modest building was constructed in 1879 and operated for nearly 40 years. It’s now located just east of its original location. ★