There is no county parks and recreation board or department, but the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department operations include various facilities that are available for use of people outside the city as well as within Bluffton. The Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department has a property tax rate from which Bluffton taxpayers fund the needs, although there are some revenues for part of the costs in the form of swimming pool admissions fees and some special program charges.
Also, Ossian has a park board and facilities, and other towns and localities of Wells County have community-type parks.
BLUFFTON PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT
Pam Vanderkolk is the Bluffton Park and Recreation Department’s superintendent. Brandy Fiechter is the assistant superintendent and Laurie Baumgartner is the sports coordinator. The phone number for this office in City Hall, 128 E. Market St., is 824-6069.
Bluffton Parks and Facilities
Angel of Hope Park, at the corner of Bennett and Wabash streets, is a place for anyone who has lost loved ones to remember them. This setting provides a soothing sound of the water and a view of the beautiful Wabash River. The park includes brick walkways and several benches for those wishing to enjoy the park and remember their loved ones.
Bluffton City Gym is located in City Hall. Facilities include a basketball court which also includes two badminton courts and volleyball court with scoreboard, racquetball court, weight lifting room, restroom facilities, shower rooms and saunas. The recreation program is year around under the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department. Memberships available.
Jefferson Park is a park of 2.1 acres located in the southeast portion of Bluffton off of Townley and Bennett streets. Facilities include a playground, two T-Ball diamonds, a batting cage, a press box, and a concession stand/restrooms building.
K-9 Kommons dog park, 805 W Market St., is a fenced-in park offering a variety of dog obstacles a few benches and a picnic table. Key memberships are sold by the year in the Clerk Treasurer’s office at the following prices: City resident $15; Wells County (non-city) resident, $20; Non-Wells County resident, $25.
Kehoe Park is a 2-acre park located along the Wabash River, just west of the south junction of Ind. 1 and Ind. 124. Facilities include a lighted amphitheater (outdoor theatre), a pavilion (gazebo) with picnic tables, and a restroom building. This is the site of the summer concert series on Sunday evenings during July and August. A few Friday evening concerts have been added to the lineup. The full schedule can be found on the city’s website.
Lancaster Park, 200 E. Jackson St., is located on Bluffton’s north side off of Ind. 1 and includes approximately 17.5 acres. This park includes a two-story log cabin, a pole barn, parking lot, and open space. A sledding hill is also in place.
Lions Park contains approximately 5.5 acres in the west central part of Bluffton, off of Midway and Washington streets. Facilities include a playground, a pavilion with picnic tables and grill, two lighted basketball courts, three lighted tennis/pickleball courts, restrooms, a maintenance building with storage, and a lighted softball/baseball diamond. Women’s softball leagues and the Teen League baseball program for 13- and 14-year-old boys use the field at Lions Park, which used to be Wilson Field through the years that it was the football field for the high school. The former T-ball (small) diamond is now an open practice field.
Pickett’s Run is at the intersection of Wayne and East Washington streets. The park has paved paths, picnic tables, benches, wood carvings and a history marker. The park gets its name from the stream that once ran through the site. This is the former location of 17 homes that were damaged in the July 2003 flood and had to be removed. Across the street from the park, at the corner of East Washington and Bennett streets, is a splash pad and a life fitness trail of outdoor exercise equipment.
Rotary Park is a small park that is part of the Rivergreenway corridor off the River Road along the Wabash River in the east part of Bluffton. Facilities include a pavilion with picnic tables, a paved parking lot, and access to the Rivergreenway.
Roush Park, 925 W. Silver St., is an eight-acre park located in the southwest part of Bluffton off the Indiana Street-Clark Avenue-Silver Street intersection. Facilities include playground equipment, two lighted baseball diamonds, two lighted softball diamonds, picnic areas, two pavilions (a small one with picnic tables and a larger one available for rental), restroom facilities, a storage building, press boxes at the ball diamonds, batting cages, two concession stands, and two basketball courts. A new splash pad and a half-mile walking trail were added to the park in 2017. The Farm League, for 9- and 10-year-old boys, and the Junior League, for 11- and 12-year-old boys, use the two baseball diamonds. The Junior Girls League, for ages 9-12, and Senior Girls League, for ages 13-16, use the two softball diamonds.
Veterans Memorial Park is on Bluffton’s south side at the corner of Main and Arnold Streets. This park features memorial gardens, walkways, a gazebo and park benches. It is the scene of official tributes to those who have served in the nation’s defense.
Washington Park covers approximately 2.6 acres in the southeast part of Bluffton, bordered by Ohio, Mulberry, Arnold and Bennett streets. Facilities include playground equipment, two 8-foot basketball goals and two lighted 10-foot basketball goals, restroom facilities, a lighted indoor/outdoor pavilion with picnic tables, a volleyball grass court, and picnic areas with grills. Tennis courts are located near the park on Mulberry Street. (Note: This park is undergoing a renovation this year and the pavilions will not be available until fall. The park may be closed at time to allow for construction work. Call the park office at 824-6069 for information before visiting. The large pavilion at Roush Park is a great option for those needed to rent a location for a large gathering.
Wabash River Park, 225 E. Wabash St., is located at the beginning of the Rivergreenway Trail Corridor and is about 1/2-acre in size. Facilities included are picnic tables, benches and a gazebo. Located just west of the park is a covered pavilion with picnic tables.
Reforestation/Wetlands Project: Some 40,000 native tree and shrub seedlings have been planted on 90 acres of land on the east side of Bluffton, upstream on the north side of the Wabash River. About 2 1/2 miles of trails currently exist through the native grasses, shrubs and trees that are establishing a native community and restoring a wetlands area on this former flood plain farmland. These and future trails will be groomed for both hiking and mountain bikes. The possibility of adding a nature area will be explored after the reforestation-wetland area has been completed.
Parks and pavilions may be rented by calling the Bluffton Parks Department at 824-6069 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Prices and rental forms are on the Parks Department website at www.blufftonindiana.net. Park hours are dawn to 11 p.m.
The Interurban Trail is a paved walking and bicycling trail which starts at the pedestrian bridge over the Wabash River and extends north 2 1/2 miles to the intersection of Main Street (Ind. 1) and Monroe Street (Wells County Road 200N) at Walmart, Lowe’s, and Walgreens. The trail runs along the west side of Main Street in front of restaurants and hotels plus other businesses.
The Rivergreenway is a paved walking and bicycling trail which starts at the east end of East Wabash Street in the heart of Bluffton. The trail runs southeast on the banks of the Wabash River on River Road to the White Bridge, a distance of 2 1/4 miles. The state has extended the trail eastward from the bridge, connecting it into the Ouabache State Park, where it links into an extensive park trail. The total trail from Bluffton to and through much of the state park is close to 5 miles. Future plans are to continue the Rivergreenway westward to Markle. Rivergreenway features include a boating access site in the east end of the trail near the White Bridge, a replica historic covered bridge, and designated parking lots along the trail. No horses or motorized vehicles are allowed on the Rivergreenway.
Basketball Leagues: Industrial, Sundays 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.; Church Leagues, Tuesdays, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Youth League (grades 5-8), Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. December through March. These are independent leagues and not Parks Department programs.
Toddler Tuesdays and Thursday: Every Tuesday and Thursday, October through March. The gym will be open for tots to play from 11 a.m. to noon. Free.
Weekday Walkers: Every Monday through Friday from October through March, the City Gym floor will be available to walk from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Free.
Volleyball Leagues: Adult-Co-ed (18 and over) Competitive League, Mondays from 6 to 10 p.m., November through December.
Open Gym: School-age children supervised gym activities seven days a week from 3:30 to 7 p.m. mid-October through mid-March. Schedules available. The gym is available for rental at $25 per hour.
Indoor Co-Ed Youth Soccer League: Age 4 through Grade 3, played in April.
Summer programs normally begin the second full week of June. Programs offered are swimming lessons, tennis lessons, and more than 100 special activities.
Many other special events and programs are offered throughout the year. Check the News-Banner; call 824-6069 for information; log onto blufftonindiana.net; or follow the Parks Department on Facebook and Twitter (Bluffton Parks).
WELLS COUNTY YMCA
The Caylor Nickel Foundation Family YMCA, 550 W. Dustman Road, Bluffton. 565-9622. Offers a variety of programs and activities for families and adults. Facilities include exercise room, gymnasium and a swimming pool. Executive director: Jon Jenkins.
The Wells County YMCA is part of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne. www.fwymca.org/caylor-nickel-foundation-family-ymca
Wells Community Swimming Pool: The property is about 3.1 acres in size, located at 310 W. Spring St. It has a six-lane 50-meter outdoor swimming pool, gas heated, with a 1-meter diving board, a small tube slide, and a 150-foot open flume triple-loop waterslide, plus a concession stand area, restrooms, shower facilities, a sun deck around the pool, playground, and a pavilion with picnic tables and grill. There is also a sand volleyball court. The pool and pavilion area are open for rentals. The Wells Community Swimming Pool is managed and operated by the Bluffton Parks and Recreation Department. It opens Memorial Day weekend and closes in early August. It is available for private rentals. Phone: 824-1550.
Swim lessons and adult lap swim times are available during the pool season.
Other swimming facilities: Kunkel Beach at Ouabache State Park, as listed in the information elsewhere on Ouabache State Park, and the Markle Swimming Pool, as listed in the separate material about the town of Markle.
In addition, both the Bluffton-Harrison Middle School and Norwell High School have indoor swimming pools which have public programs in addition to their regular school uses. Information can be obtained from the schools.
EZ Bowl, 1231 S. Scott St., Bluffton, phone 824-9966, is an all-modern 22-lane facility offering league bowling for youths, men, and women. It also offers open bowling and special party arrangements. It also has a snack shop.
Green Valley Golf Club, 2635E 150N, Bluffton, 824-4510. 9-hole public course.
Timber Ridge Golf Course, 2330E 250N, Bluffton, 824-2728. 18-hole public course, watered fairways.