Columbus Parks and Recreation Department
Timeline 1917- 2018
William H. Donner presented the deed to Donner Park to Mayor H. K. Volland. Donner Park becomes the first city owned park.
Donner Park Shelter house is built.
William H. Donner gifts the community center (now Donner Center) to the department.
First Parks and Recreation Board.
Paul Stacker moves to Columbus and becomes the first Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
Donner Swimming Pool (now Donner Aquatic Center) opens on July 4. The pool was a gift from William H. Donner.
First After Prom Party – Donner Center.
Renovations to the Donner Park shelter house are completed.
Lincoln Center is donated by Clarence Hamilton family.
First Parks and Recreation Master Plan is completed.
Bill R. Wilson becomes the second Director of Parks and Recreation.
Park Board and School Board sign a school/park agreement to share land and facilities for use by the community.
Par 3 Golf Course is built by Parks and Recreation maintenance staff.
Organization of first youth hockey league in Columbus.
David L. Ison becomes the third director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
The current Parks and Recreation emblem (logo) is designed by Bruce Bottum and Associates.
A new entrance to the pool in revealed which allowed swimmers to enter the pool from the outside of the building instead of through the hallways of Donner Center.
Chuck Wilt is loaned by Cummins, Inc as Interim Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
Bob Gillikin becomes the fourth Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
Donner swimming pool hosts the annual Indiana State Age Group Swimming and Diving Long Course Championships for the first time ever.
– The ice rink is enclosed.
First Park and Recreation Bond issue ($2.1 million)
o Lincoln Center enclosed
o Lincoln Park Softball renovation
o Greenbelt Golf and Tennis Courts
o Donner Center and pool renovated
– Chuck Wilt becomes the fifth Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
– Clifty Park renovated through a $300,000 Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
– First Jack Cramer Ideals of Athletic Competition is presented to Dudley Moore.
– Additional Noblitt Park land donated.
– Harrison Ridge Park donated to the City and the development of the park is funded through a $100,000 Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
Chuck Wilt is named President of Indiana Parks and Recreation Association.
– Park Board awarded “Best in Nation” award by the National Recreation and Park Association.
– Columbus selected as host city for White River Park State Games.
– Greenbelt Golf Course clubhouse dedicated.
– Parks and Recreation Department accredited (1 of 4 in Indiana) by the Indiana Park and Recreation Association.
– Bond issue for $1.375 million passed to renovate Donner Center.
– Partnership formed between Parks and Recreation Department and Columbus Regional Hospital for fitness, creating the Body Fit program.
– Dedication of the newly renovated Donner Center ($1.4 million bond issue passed).
– A 160ft long and 20ft high water slide is added to the pool.
– First section of People Trails is constructed (19th and Hawcreek to Donner Park to Noblitt Park to Mill Race Park).
– Parks and Recreation Board agrees to assume responsibility for the operation of the Columbus Gymnastics Center.
– Parks and Recreation Department, Driftwood Valley Arts Council and The Commons board formed the Columbus Area Arts Council.
– 1988 Hoosier Celebration program held at Mill Race Park with Governor Robert Orr opening the event. The event attracts more than 10,000 people to Columbus.
– The Columbus Park Foundation is formed to help raise funds for park and recreation programs and facilities.
– Columbus Area Arts Council is formed after merging the Commons Mall and Driftwood Valley Arts Council.
– First Festival of Lights is held at Mill Race Park.
– Clifty Park Youth baseball complex dedicated.
– Park and Recreation Department is named a finalist for the National Recreation and Park Association’s Gold Medal Award – the first of seven times the Department will be named a finalist.
– Park Board honored a second time with the National Recreation and Park Association Board and Commission Award.
– Lincoln Center received federal Dept. of Energy Award for conservation equipment design.
– Mill Race Park Project Community Fund Drive raises $3.6 million. U.S. Congress supports the use of Atterbury Job Corps Center to provide $2 million in supplies and labor for the project. An additional 17 acres is donated for Mill Race Park.
– The newly renovated Mill Race Park is dedicated.
– Park Board signs contract with Columbus Softball Association to run summer leagues at Lincoln Park.
– First Chautauqua of the Arts is held at Mill Race Park.
– Lincoln Central Neighborhood Family Center Project begins with Park and Recreation establishing a year-round recreation program.
– Dick Wigh Soccer Center is dedicated at Westenedge Park.
– Park and Recreation Department receives National Recreation and Park Administration Gold Medal Award as the most outstanding department in the U.S. for cities with population of 20,000 to 50,000.
– Lincoln Center rededicated as Hamilton Center.
– McCulloughs Run Park land received as a donation.
– Rededication of Ninth Street Park (formerly Wilson Park) through a partnership with Lincoln/Central Neighborhood Family Center.
– Dedication of 100 cherry trees given by our sister city, Miyoshi, Japan, for Harrison Ridge and Clifty Parks.
– Bond issue for $4 million passes for Parks and Recreation for renovation of Donner Pool, Lincoln Softball Complex, a new maintenance facility and a new golf course irrigation system.
– Economic Development Bond Issue for $3.9 million passed to support the renovation of the Foundation for Youth which includes the addition of the Columbus Gymnastics Center as part of the facility.
– Park and Recreation Department receives donation of land for Oakbrook Park.
– Columbus Gymnastics Center opened at the new location at Foundation for Youth.
– Irrigation system completed at Greenbelt Golf Course.
– Construction begins on new Park Service Center.
– New Lincoln Softball Complex reopened.
– Columbus Park Foundation accepts a donation of 49 acres of land for future development of Northbrook Park.
– Hamilton Center Ice Arena celebrates 40 years.
– Parks and Recreation and Columbus Area Arts Council partner to establish the Teen Council with Bartholomew County Youth Development Commission.
– Jolie Crider Skate Park dedicated.
– New playgrounds established at Donner Park, Foundation for Youth and Harrison Ridge Park.
– Mill Race Park trails renovated.
– Park Operations Service Center completed.
– Park and Recreation Department receives two major federal grants: $926,000 from the Indiana Department of Transportation for the development of a 5.5 mile section of the Hawcreek People Trail and a $162,000 grant for the development of McCullough’s Run Park from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
– Parks and Recreation assists Su Casa in forming a Hispanic Soccer League.
– Westenedge Park renamed Chapman T. Blackwell III Park in honor of Chap Blackwell III, who served as a Park Board member for 32 years.
– Tennis courts at Donner Center are rededicated as the Robert B. Burnett Memorial Tennis Courts in memory of Bob Burnett, the former director of the Parks and Recreation summer tennis program and former East High School tennis coach.
– Diamond 1 at Lincoln Park was dedicated as Dickey Field in memory of Earl and Frances Dickey, who helped start Columbus Youth baseball at Lincoln Park in the late 1940s and 1950s.
– Chuck Wilt receives the Indiana University W.W. Patty Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
– Playground equipment at Mead Village Park is replaced.
– Lincoln Batting Cages are installed and opened.
– A lighted fountain is installed at Mill Race Park North Lake in memory of Nancy Blackwell.
– $162,000 Land Water Conservation Fund grant for McCulloughs Run Park.
– Chuck Wilt celebrates 25 years as Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation Department on April 1.
– Received a Land Water Conservation Fund grant for $756,000 for additional connections within the People Trails System.
– First Tour de Trails – Run/Walk held in September at Mill Race Park.
– The department commissions Indiana University’s Public Opinion Labratory to conduct a telephone survey to assess citizens’ satisfaction with the services provided by the department.
– Chuck Wilt is elected Vice President of the Columbus Visitors Center Board of Directors.
– The department adopts the ‘Hearts ‘N Parks’ program into its programming.
– The street through Mill Race Park is renamed Carl Miske Drive in honor of the late Carl Miske.
– Total economic impact of Parks and Recreation events totals around $500,000 in hotel, restaurant, gasoline and retail business.
– Ed Curtin elected a National Fellow of the national organization of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
– Chuck Wilt will become President of the Columbus Visitors Center Board of Directors in 2005.
– First year for USSSA Girls 16 & Under Fast Pitch Softball World Series.
– USSSA Fast Pitch Softball World Series takes Columbus by storm.
– Mayor Fred Armstrong and the Columbus City Council receive the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association’s Essential Services Recognition and Community Support Award.
– First year for the USSSA Men’s Major Softball National Invitational Tournament.
– First year for the USSSA Girl’s Fast Pitch Softball Indiana State Tournament .
– Second year for the USSSA Girl’s 11 & Under, 12 & Under A and 16 & Under Fast Pitch Softball World Series.
– Grand opening of the Haw Creek Trail.
– DAC collaborates with CARE to host a time for dog owners to bring their pooches for a swim in the Donner Pool.
– Columbus awarded the National America in Bloom Award in October.
– Chuck Wilt elected President-Elect of the American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration.
– 2005 NCMA Design Award of Honor: Landscape for the Haw Creek Bike Path.
– Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association 2006 Concrete Achievement Award for Excellence in Concrete Construction for the City of Columbus Parks Department- Blackwell Park, Freedom Field.
– Laura Garrett chosen as a participant in the Rotary GSE (Group Study Exchange) to Tochigi, Japan in May 2007.
– Second year for the USSSA Men’s Major Softball National Invitational Tournament.
– Second year for the USSSA Girl’s Fast Pitch Softball Indiana State Tournament.
– Third year for the USSSA Girl’s 16 & Under and 18 & Under Fast Pitch Softball World Series.
– First Tour de Trails – Bicycle Challenge held at Lincoln Park.
– Movable floor is installed at Donner Aquatic Center which permits the floor to be raised for a water depth of 14” or lowered for a water depth of 5’. This enables the Department to better utilize the main swimming pool for swim lessons, community recreation use and competitive swim meets.
– Freedom Field (accessible playground) opens in November.
– Columbus Parks & Recreation celebrates 60th Anniversary with community.
– Haw Creek People Trail development completed with donations from the campaign matched by 80% INDOT/Federal grant support.
– Ben Wagner appointed as Assistant Director for Columbus Parks & Recreation.
– 25 new “C” shape bicycle racks were installed around the city through cooperative efforts of Columbus Park Foundation and community supporters.
– Columbus Dog Park Association was formed and after much research identified Clifty Park as the proposed site for a dog park.
– Flooding in June caused major maintenance issues for the department including dealing with the loss of the bridge at the north end of Greenbelt Golf Course.
– Groundbreaking was held for the new Commons.
– Groundbreaking was held for Mill Race Center in Mill Race Park.
– Working in conjunction with BCSC, the department’s Athletic Team renovated baseball diamonds at Clifty Park for use by Columbus North High School until their new “home” fields were constructed.
– Chuck Wilt retires after 33 years as Director of Columbus Parks & Recreation.
– Ben Wagner becomes the sixth Director of Columbus Parks & Recreation.
– Dog Park opens at Clifty Park in November.
– Columbus Parks & Recreation is selected to maintain and manage the new Commons.
– Grand opening for the Commons, “the community living room” is held with the late Alice Curry leading the celebration committee.
– Mill Race Center and new Transit Facility open at Mill Race Park.
– Owens Bend Trail development is completed and the grand opening is held.
– New water slide is installed at Donner Aquatic Center.
Donner Aquatic Center was the host facility to the Central Zone Swim Meet for the first time.
Hamilton hosted the 1st annual Turkey Trot 5k walk/run which was held on Thanksgiving morning with 110 participants and $615 raised for the Chuck Wilt Youth Scholarship Program.
The First Annual Festival of Lights Christmas Village was held at the Commons seeing an estimated 1000 guests visiting throughout the day.
Park Operations took the lead on a plan for the emerald ash borer (EAB) and are worked with several city departments and community experts to develop a strategy and implementation plan to address this invasive insect.
The department completed a land exchange with BCSC that connects Noblitt Park with Mill Race Park.
The department added green space to 9th Street Park and a shelter house to Oakbrook Park.
Mark Jones becomes the seventh Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.
Columbus Parks and Recreation Lincoln Park earned the National Softball Association’s 2014 Outstanding Park Award. Sports Tourism continued become a growing business in Columbus and Bartholomew County.
Chuck Wilt Trail development is completed.
Hamilton Center renovations are completed and the building is renamed Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena.
In October of 2015, the Parks Department regained management of both Greenbelt and Rocky Ford Par 3 golf courses. The courses had been previously contracted out and managed by Golf Pro Steve Cohen.
The Columbus Dog Park Association gives the dog park to the department.
The first outdoor pickleball courts in Columbus are completed at Donner Park.
A new filtration system was installed in the lap pool providing a more efficient use of water and will keep water cleaner while reducing expenses.
The Rocky Ford Par 3 Golf Course becomes the home to the First Tee program.
Rocky Ford Par 3 also saw the installation of a new irrigation system; this system will help with the course conditions and our water efficiency.
The brick patio donation program at HCCIA is completed.
Cindy Brummett retires from Columbus Parks and Recreation with 48 years with the City and 45 with Parks and Recreation.
The Department celebrates 3 anniversaries:
o 100 Years of Donner park (Feb 1917)
o 70 Years of Department (1947)
o 25 Years of Mill Race Park (renovation “finished” in 1992)
Park Board votes yes to take over management of Columbus Farmers’ Market beginning in 2018.
Park Board adopts the 2017-2021 Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
The Hawcreek Trail extension is completed and the trail reopened (February 6) featuring the Old Newbern Bridge.
Hawcreek Trail/Newbern Bridge Ribbon Cutting (May 22)
First year Parks and Recreation has management over the Columbus Farmers’ Market.
Updated FFY MOU/Lease.
Completed The Commons playground Input & Design Study in October.
Construction of a new Athletic Maintenance Building at Lincoln Park.
The Fair Oaks Community Development Corporation (FOCDC) purchases the Fair Oaks Mall on December 14.
Columbus Bicycle Co-op took over operations of the Columbike bikeshare program (January 1) from the Columbus Park Foundation with the foundation continuing to fundraise.
MKSK is awarded the contract to perform the Fair Oaks Mall/Donner Park study.