Westside Park stands as a seasoned park that has undergone much change through its time. The park has consistently served as a reflection of the greater Muncie community throughout its history. With the murder in the park that still sits unsolved to this day and the generally declining conditions of the park, it is evident that the population in attendance is much lower than the park would have had at its peak. Whether or not these two factors are responsible for this is unclear, as we cannot interview and interact with those who do not attend the park. The park typically clears out rapidly as the day reaches the later hours, as there are few lights in the park for after dark. The park conditions have reflected the misuse of city funds in the quality and condition of the amenities at the park. From the rusted playset that was only semi-recently replaced to the caution tape wrapped seesaw that appears to have been completely broken and ignored, the park shows the lack of care that the city has had in the past.
Our observations showed that the park is usually visited by women, pre-teen children, and toddler children. There is low representation from the rest of the age groups. The population of attendees is majority white with small representations from other races. The park itself contains a large amount of open green space with several picnic shelters which are used for large gatherings. The parking lot seems to be used in several different ways, the main of which are as an area that people can drive in and sit in their cars undisturbed and as a place to park before entering the greenway trail.
Our work in Westside has led us to believe that the park itself is good, just undermaintained. The interviews and informal conversations we have had about the park talk about how the park is nice, just in need of some love. The main issues that could be fixed with attention would be pavement issues, equipment issues, and trash control. The focus of equipment issues seems to be mainly surrounding the condition of the secondary playground equipment, the basketball court equipment, and park restroom equipment. If funding was moved towards repairing and maintaining the park amenities and facilities, we believe that the park would see a better rate of attendance. There is a bright future for the park though, as the parks superintendent stated that there are plans to implement a skate park in the old flying field that is currently unused. There is also a movement to renovate the baseball field and implement a baseball program. Ball State’s Building Better Neighborhoods Program Manager informed us that there is a Westside Neighborhood Association in the works. We believe that if the park is repaired alongside these plans, the park could be extremely successful.