By Zoe Lawton
Every five years, Muncie Parks and Recreation comes up with a new plan for the parks. I will be looking at what the 1983, 1993, 2009, 2014, and 2021 master plan has to say about Heekin park. I obtained the 1983 and 1993 master plans from the Architecture Library on the Ball State University campus. In 1983, Heekin was one of the most frequently visited parks, polling at 20.4% of the population going to Heekin. In 1983, Heekin park was considered a community park, with a general description of being the largest and one of the oldest parks in Muncie. The description also states, “Several roads cut through the park which in combined with building encroachments reduce the amount and quality of land usable for recreation,” (Master Plan 1983). The inventory of the park in 1983 includes,
|6 swings||1 ball diamond (Lighted)||1 drinking fountain|
|4 slides||2 tennis courts||2 water pumps|
|1 whirl||1 basketball court (Lights inoperable)||2 barbeque spits|
|5 climbers||18 horseshoe pits||19 picnic tables|
|3 teeters||4 log cabins|
|2 sandboxes||1 restroom facility|
|1 concession stand|
(Masterplan 1983). The physical condition in 1983 was considered acceptable or good, but the facilities were considered to be poor or very poor. The accessibility of Heekin is considered good. There was no recommendations for Heekin park unlike in 1993 (Recovery Action Plan Muncie, Indiana)
In 1993 Heekin was still considered a community park, and the general description is very similar to 1983. The exception is the mention that the park houses the Parks and Recreation Department offices. The 1993 Heekin park inventory states that the park contains,
|5 swings||1 tennis court (inoperable)||1 drinking fountain (inoperable)|
|3 slides||1 basketball court (lighted)||5 log cabins (rentals)|
|1 whirl||18 horseshoe pits (lighted)||1 restroom facility|
|5 climbers||1 rental shelter|
|1 teeter||1 picnic shelter|
|2 sandboxes||Vietnam War Memorial|
We can already see the differences in 10 years for the inventory like the creation of the Vietnam War Memorial, and the lack of a concession stand. The condition of Heekin in 1993 can also be seen as acceptable and good, and the facilities rating from poor to acceptable. Accessibility is also considered as good. There are recommended improvements to Heekin park. The largest points that should be noted are upgrading the softball diamond, installing a sand volleyball court, installing water lines and a drinking fountain, rehabilitating the bathrooms, installing bathroom facilities on the west end of the park, converting concession stand to picnic shelter, and complying with ADA guidelines for disabled accessibility to facilities (Masterplan 1993). Both the 1983 and 1993 plans are not very descriptive to any degree, but we do have a more detailed account in the 2009, 2014, and 2020.
In 2009, Heekin’s size increased from 52.9 to 54.01 acres. In 2009, Heekin Park was considered a large urban park. The roads crossing through the park were no longer a negative aspect. The 2009 report focuses on the open space of Heekin and the facilities provided. It also states that the water fountains are broken, the tennis courts are neglected, the bathrooms are dated with little privacy, the playground equipment is dated, and how the horse shoe pits are dilapidated (Masterplan 2009). There is no inventory of the park in this plan. In 2009, the city of Muncie wanted to create a signature park and was deliberating between McCulloch Park and Heekin Park. They recommended spending $100,000 on a new playground, $22,000 to pave park office lot, $25,000 on the Walk of Fame, $30,000 on upgrading cabins, $25,000 to upgrade score tower, $50,000 on remodeling the park office, $30,000 for a new ball field fence, $25,000 to upgrade restrooms, $30,000 to install shelter houses, $20,000 to upgrade the horseshoe pits, and $80,000 for new lighting. These were simply recommendations but the plan does not state where the money should come from. In a survey from the 2009 plan states, that Heekin was one of the most attended parks by K-12 students (http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/Misc%20Info/2009%20Muncie%20Parks%20Master%20Plan.pdf)
In the 2014 five-year plan, Heekin is still considered a large urban park at 54.01 acres. Now in 2014 Heekin offers open space, large trees, cabins, picnic shelter, and two playgrounds. There are memorials, such as the World War II and the Vietnam memorials. There is a time capsule and the Five Points Fountain. The report states, “a basketball court, tennis courts, restrooms, broken water fountains, a baseball diamond, horseshoe pits, and the park office. The tennis courts continue to appear neglected and unused. Restrooms are dated and provide little to no privacy. Though the playground equipment is dated, overall it doesn’t appear hazardous” (Five-Year Plan 2014). This inventory of the park is vague, and does not remark on how the tennis court is unusable or how there are only nine horse shoe pits. The report mentions improvements made to Heekin, such as a new sign, the Walk of Fame, that the playground was replaced, and half of the horseshoe pits were rehabilitated. In 2008, nearly a fourth of Heekin was sold to the Housing Authority of the City of Muncie (MHA). There was hopes that the MHA would build a Unity Center within five years. If this land was not built upon, it would go back to Heekin Park. January 2013 marked five years. and no improvements were made, so it was recommended that the land be given back to Heekin. If the land was not reconveyed, Heekin would have been reclassified from a large urban park to a community park and would no longer own its primary playground. In 2014, the planners recommended ADA accessibility within the parks. They want to create ADA parking spaces, paths, and restrooms. Again it is stated in this plan they wanted to create a signature park. They wanted to update either McCulloch Park or Heekin Park. With this they wanted to spend $20,000 on the basketball court, $50,000 on the dog park, $60,000 for the cabin roofs, $6,000 a new shelter in the NE corner, $3,000 for new corn hole pits for senior citizens, $20,000 for a 9 hole disc golf, $15,000 for outdoor exercise course, and $20,000 for repairs to softball field (Five-Year Plan 2014) (The City of Muncie’s 5- Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2014). https://www.co.delaware.in.us/egov/documents/1412093176_99175.pdf)
In the 2021 plan there is an inventory of Heekin Park, but it does not give specific numbers just, “Open space, cabins, dog park, picnic shelter, playgrounds, memorials, water fountain, basketball court, tennis courts, restrooms, water fountains, baseball diamond, horseshoe pits, park office, off street and on street parking,” (Five-Year Plan 2021). Heekin is also just considered a community park now. It also states Heekin Park is in medium condition, and that ADA compliance needs to be assessed. Heekin is a park that the Parks and Recreation board wants to make ADA compliant by 2023. In 2023, they want to install new ADA compliant playground equipment, and this will be the Southwest Park- and cost $70,000 estimated (https://www.cityofmuncie.com/egov/documents/1618333972_6161.pdf)
The 2021 five-year plan is reminiscent of the 1983 and 1993 plan, because there is only an inventory of items. There is no description of Heekin, unlike in the 2009 and 2014 five-year-plans. Through these case studies of plans, we begin to see elements of neglect with in the parks. This can be demonstrated by the tennis court, for example. It is noted that the tennis court has been inoperable since at least 1993, and in almost thirty years nothing has been done. Then in 2014 with the Housing Authority, a Unity Center was never built, even though the land was sold to them to develop. City planning is a way to conceptualize time and space. These plans are envisioning a future and to prepare for the future (Abram & Weszkalnys 2013). These future promises always seem out of reach and elusive. However viewing these recommendations were always elusive due to the politicization of Muncie parks and recreation. Park planning is a form of power, and in Muncie political power has a history of corruption, which directly influences the parks. In the five-year plan it is noted that the parks director is appointed by the mayor and so is the Parks and Recreation Board. We learned in this class that the Parks Board needs equal representation of Republicans and Democrats. Until recently, this mode of power has inhibited good, qualified people from serving in these roles. Political parties should not play a role in Muncie Park and Recreation.
Abram, S., & Weszkalnys, G. (Eds.). (2013). Elusive promises. Berghahn Books.
Master Plan for the City of Muncie Department of Parks and Recreation (1993).
Recovery Action Plan Muncie, Indiana (1983).
The City of Muncie’s 5- Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2009). http://www.forgoodgovernment.com/Misc%20Info/2009%20Muncie%20Parks%20Master%20Plan.pdf
The City of Muncie’s 5- Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2014). https://www.co.delaware.in.us/egov/documents/1412093176_99175.pdf
City of Muncie2021-2025 Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2021). https://www.cityofmuncie.com/egov/documents/1618333972_6161.pdf