5-Year Plan Adopted by Noble County Parks

County parks board approves master plan

By MATT GETTS mgetts@kpcmedia.com  Originally published in the Kendallville News-Sun on March 29, 2019.

ALBION — Following a public hearing Wednesday, the Noble County Park Board unanimously approved its new five-year master plan to be filed with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The plan was put together — with park board input — by Noble County Plan Director Kenneth Hughes.

The master plan makes the park board eligible to apply for certain state-level grants.

As part of the master plan, the board set its priorities in the form of an action plan. Those priorities are:

• Increase the miles of trails available to residents, partnering with Noble Trails Inc., municipal parks departments and the DNR.

• Develop water-based recreational opportunities on the Elkhart River, partnering with the DNR, West Lakes Association and the Noble County Lakes Association.

• Publicize recreation assets, working with the Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the county’s GIS Department.

• Work with health leaders to address health issues such as obesity and diabetes, working with the Noble County Health Department and Parkview Noble Hospital.

• Work with child development leaders to focus on programs for child enrichment, partnering with the Dekko Foundation and the Community Foundation of Noble County.

Hughes attended Wednesday’s park board meeting.

“We appreciate all the work you did,” park board president Ray Scott said.

A last-minute addition to the plan involved the inclusion of municipal trails in the final document. Originally omitted because these city and town trails are not within the county park board’s jurisdiction, their inclusion was encouraged by board member Jeff Boyle.

Boyle, who represents the west side of the county, said having a more thorough mention of Ligonier’s trail system, for example, would allow that city to cite the county park board’s master plan when applying for grants.

“I was hoping to use it,” Boyle said.

The board eventually asked Hughes to include that information in his final draft.

During the public hearing portion of Wednesday’s meeting, Lori Gagen, marketing director of the Noble County Economic Development Corp., endorsed the plan in its finished form. She said quality of life issues, such as those espoused by the board’s action plan, are critical pieces to attracting and maintaining a strong base for industrial growth.

Hughes said he did not foresee the DNR having any issues with the park board’s plan submission.