Opdycke Park will be closed to the public soon in an effort to thwart vandalism ahead of a renovation project.
Williams County Engineer Todd Roth appeared before the Board of County Commissioners Nov. 17 to seek guidance on the park. The county wants to preserve the barn but vandals have been damaging it repeatedly over the years.
The county will be replacing the roof and will eventually replace crossbeams and pillars inside the barn.
The commissioners selected charcoal slate as the color of the new roof.
The county Parks Board is to meet Nov. 21 and will discuss prioritizing projects at the parks. There are a couple of funding sources, but Roth will wait until the park board finalizes its list before coming back to the commissioners. If they are amenable to the proposed work, he will proceed with seeking the money.
As for Opdycke Park, Roth said there are several issues that need to be addressed.
One is the growth of some flora such as the autumn olive which grows very tall and grows back quickly and stronger once its been cut. To get rid of it permanently it either has be dug up or poisoned at the cut, Roth said.
“I can’t see us digging it out because it would take a backhoe and it’s nothing to do by hand,” Roth said. “It’s a matter of cutting it and having the right treatment on the cut.”
Due to the density of the plant, it would not be prudent to try to eliminate it all. Rather, the best option would be to target the areas most traveled by people, Roth said.
As for the roof project, the county is still waiting on ODNR to issue the grant and it’s working with Marvin Stantz of Indiana, to get his bond established, Roth said. Dan Clum has been working with the contractor on the paperwork, he said.
“It’s something he’s not familiar with,” Roth said of the contractor.
Since this is the start of the winter season, the contractor may not be able to start until spring, Roth said. That made him wonder if the best option is simply closing the park until the construction is completed, he said.
Fencing off the barn is not practical as previous attempt to block access to it have been thwarted by vandals.
“I was out there (Nov. 16) and the slates are being thrown down from the second floor to the concrete,” Roth said. “The stairs are out to get from the first to the second (floor). Now they go around the outside to knock the siding off to get to the second floor.”
Other options including placing a camera to catch vandals and have better lighting, Roth said.
But the best plan for Roth is simply locking the front gate and keeping the park closed until construction is complete.
The park can be closed, as long as local police and fire units either had keys to the locks on the gate or were able to cut the chain, Commissioner Lewis Hilkert said.
A block will be placed at the dog pound to prevent access to the other entrance to the park, Roth said.
Signs warning against trespassing and the prosecution of those who violate the warning will be posted. The commissioners confirmed anyone caught trespassing would indeed be prosecuted.
The interior work of the project will include replacing a column on the west end of the barn as well as a beam on the north end, Roth said.
There is a crack in the beam over the column and he estimates about a third of the flooring is not supportive of the structure.
“We will encourage him to get as much done this winter as he can,” Roth said.
James Pruitt may be reached at email@example.com