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New shelter planned at Baker Park

By DARREL RADFORD

dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Baker Park’s busy shuffleboard area will have an exciting new neighbor later this year.

Monday, the New Castle Parks Board approved plans for a new, open-air shelter to be built near the shuffleboard court. An existing shelter there would be torn down to make room for the new one.

The city has been discussing construction plans with potential donors.

“We will be responsible for the concrete and the wiring,” Parks Board President Patty Broyles said. 

New Castle Parks Superintendent Mike Bergum said the project would be beneficial in a number of ways.

“We’re hoping to make it 60 feet by 30 feet, which is what the average of what Baker 1 and 2 shelters are,” Bergum said. “We want it to be an open air shelter, so it can be used all of the time. Obviously, it can still be reserved.

“It will add to the area in a couple of ways,” Bergum continued. “There is a need for it at that location and the shelter we have there now really needs to come down. It will be a perfect fit right there.”

Bergum said the new shelter is still in the planning stages but he fully expects the shelter will be built and ready for use later this spring.

“This is such a great gift,” Broyles said.

“There’s still a lot of people who play shuffleboard there, too,” Mayor Greg York said. “They would get a lot of use out of it.”

The shelterhouse project wasn’t the only thing “new” as the board began its work in 2019. Work on a new shelterhouse reservation system and the training of new lifeguards continues to go well.

City Administrative Assistant Kendra Kennedy reported reservations for Baker Park shelterhouses drew a big early crowd on Jan. 2. As she handled about 30 reservation requests and payments, Kennedy also distributed information about a new procedure. Recently, the board voted to move the shelter reservation process from January to November.

“Everyone had heard about it, and they were fine with it,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said plenty of reservations for Baker Park Shelterhouses remain. Those interested may call the mayor’s office to check on dates. In order to reserve a date, however, people must make their requests in person at the mayor’s office and pay a $35 reservation fee (county residents) or a $50 registration fee (out-of-county residents).

Bergum said a new rental agreement document is in the works, featuring contact information, do’s and don’ts, park rules and the city’s refund policy.

“This agreement allows us to have everything in writing,” Bergum said.

This year, Broyles said Baker Park Shelter 3, located north of the stage, is also available to rent.

“If somebody wants to rent out a smaller place close to the F.U.N. Park, I think it’s worth $35 to guarantee it,” Broyles said.

In other matters:

• Bergum said a third lifeguard training class was recently completed. “We now have 19 new lifeguards certified,” he said. “We look forward to going full-steam ahead continuing to offer classes and getting certified. Our goal is to get 40 new lifeguards certified.”

The lifeguard training, conducted by the Henry County YMCA’s Josh Bramlett, is possible thanks to a $4,000 Henry County Community Foundation grant.

• Board members also learned dedicated parks employee Robert Dye is planning to retire in February of 2020.

Editor's note: The original story incorrectly named a company as having volunteered to build the proposed shelter house. That reference has been removed.