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 & RECREATION
Pam Vanderkolk is the Bluffton Park and Recreation Department’s director. The phone number for this office in City Hall, 128 E. Market St., is 824-6069.
The following parks and facilities are in the Bluffton Parks system:
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.
Jefferson Park is approximately 2.1 acres in size, located in the southeast portion of Bluffton off 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 about 2 acres in size and 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. Outdoor movies will be shown at 8:45 p.m. each Friday night during July.
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 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 destroyed. 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.
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.
Roush Park, at 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 will be completed by the end of this year. 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, off of 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.
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 farmland 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. Park hours are dawn to 11 p.m.
BLUFFTON PARKS & RECREATION
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.
Parks and Recreation Winter Programs
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.
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.
Co-Ed Peewee Basketball: Program open to girls and boys in grades K-4. Program runs from August through October, with registration in mid-July.
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. Gym available for rentals.
Gym — Spring Activities
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-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).