Sugar Creek Nature Park Gets Grant

Sugar Creek Nature Park Gets Grant
Journal Review 9/3/2009
by Jay Heater

The hope for the Sugar Creek Nature Park is that it will offer educational opportunities for just about anything under the sun.

But while Tuttle science teacher Shannon Hudson talked on Wednesday about stations that would offer lessons about the weather, plants, the river and various other wonders of nature, she might have missed one important topic. Lessons about government.

“We’re doing something a little different,” said Crawfordsville Mayor Charlie Coons. “So far, it’s been good.”

“The mayor’s office has integrated the Parks & Recreation Department with education,” said Roger Neal, the Parks & Recreation director. “He is doing it without taxpayer money. It is a totally new approach.”

The main focus of Coons’ effort to develop the Nature Park has been cooperation. Instead of the city trying to go it alone, Friends of Sugar Creek, Wabash College and the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation have been key players along with various city departments.

Businesses and corporations in town are asking about getting on board.

On Wednesday, Indiana American Water presented a $7,500 check to the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation to go toward the development of the Nature Park.

“Part of this money will upgrade our Weather Bug Program,” Hudson said. “We are going to buy a new weather station that will be on top of Tuttle.”

One of the learning stations along the Sugar Creek Nature Park trail will be a weather station and teachers will be able to access input from the Tuttle weather station at that spot.

Hudson said the money also will help purchase some “high tech” water testing equipment.

“Without Indiana American Water’s grant, we would not have had the funds to buy these tools,” Hudson said. “This is the icing on the cake for us, and it wouldn’t happen without them.”

Joe Loughmiller, the external affairs manager with Indiana American Water, said his company considered more than 20 applications before awarding the grant.

“This one stood out,” he said. “We’re natural environmentalists. The cleaner water is, the less we have to do to get it ready to drink.

“We also want to support the communities we serve. Sugar Creek is a big asset. We want to help bring it back to what it should be.”

The city made sure to designate the Sugar Creek Nature Park as a park and not a reserve.

“With a reserve, you are limited to what you can do,” Neal said. “Making it a park allows flexibility. We don’t want it to be protected from the students.”

City employee Troy Mitchell said the Nature Park will be functional in October and most of the educational stations will be completed by next spring

Mitchell said the city already is receiving inquiries from schools about setting up field trips to the area.

Mitchell said a park clean-up day will be held Sept. 26 for anyone in the community who would like to volunteer. More information on the event will be released in another week or so.