By: Samantha Turner
On an early Sunday afternoon in late September, I drove down the driveway leading to Westside Park. The telltale signs of fall were everywhere with colorful displays of yellow and orange leaves scattering the ground. As I pulled into my parking spot near the Greenway Trail entrance, I was surprised to see birthday balloons hanging from picnic shelters and loud giggles from the children running around the playground. I noticed the flying grounds, an area where residents can fly remote control airplanes near the opposite end of the park. I then walked through the grass and fallen leaves towards the three benches at the playground area. I sit down on the swinging bench. There were two white women talking with one another to my left as they watched over two young boys crawl under the newly repainted turtle structure. I introduced myself to both of them and found out that one of the women, Jasmine*, was a current Ball State student. Tabitha* was the other woman, and she was working with one of the boys through therapy, and they come here every so often for fresh air. They looked at the children every so often, while continuing conversation. When I asked each of these women about their impressions on the park they mentioned:
“I come here often, it’s one of the nicer parks in Muncie” and “[Westside] has better shade with the trees”Tabitha
Ball State student and mother living in Muncie also mentioned that Westside has “lots of shade”Jasmine
Westside is nestled between the White River and River Landing Apartments, full of trees, and calm running water. It is a good place to sit down and eat lunch or bring children to interact with the outdoors. However, when you go to Westside you will also notice that the four-way seesaw has a broken seat, the bathroom doors do not close fully, there is only one corner for seating near the playground, there is no paved way to get to the playgrounds from the driveway, and the baseball field is all but abandoned. Empty soda bottles and food wrappers litter the brick walkway next to the playground, yet there are multiple trash cans next to the shelters and driveway. This park has the potential for enjoyable scenic beauty for the residents of Muncie, but it seems to lack proper maintenance and funding to create a aesthetic and functional pleasing environment.
Westside is located on the southern boundary of the Westside neighborhood between South Tillotson Avenue and South Nichols road. It is surrounded by trees, the White River, and the Greenway Trail encompassing a wide range of natural and built environments for all residents to enjoy. With multiple picnic shelters, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, and flying fields there are many ways for residents to recreate in the park. The following sections will analyze the built environments, the people who use Westside, and the larger impact of the City of Muncie.
*Note: Names have been changed for privacy reasons
City of Muncie. “Westside Park.” City of Muncie, n.d. https://www.cityofmuncie.com/egov/apps/locations/facilities.egov?view=detail;id=41.