VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Ever since the Ouabache Trails Park opened back up following electrical issues in July, it’s been on borrowed time.
The park needed a total overhaul of their underground electric grid– a costly endeavor. For the past few months, it has had a temporary fix provided by two consistent campers, according to Knox County parks superintendent Rhonda Foster.
“We had two wonderful electricians come in, they were actually regular campers, we were very fortunate, and say, ‘Hey, we can help,’” she said. “They came in and they did a temporary repair, that brought us power back, which we were very grateful for.”
Still, they always knew they would need more work done. And county officials are ready to lend a helping hand. County commissioner president Kellie Streeter said they plan to spend around $1 million of their remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds– $3.1 million total– on the parks.
“A lot of [the upgrades] will be things you can’t see,” she said. “The entire underground electrical system will have to be updated. And that is a major undertaking. That will also be hopefully upgrading all the electrical to the shelters, and it was really important to us we upgraded our campground.”
The spending plan still has to be finalized with the county council. Foster said they were still unsure of the timeline– but hoped to start work sometime in the spring.
I would love if it could start maybe, spring, which would be ideal. Or summer,” she said. “Again, I think it would also be weather-related, that will definitely have some affects.”
She said she also hopes to bring the “Happy Trails Music Festival” to the park this summer– an event that was scheduled for 2022, but delayed by the issues at the park.
“It was very disappointing, but we are still speaking with [the organizers] and we are going to do it again. As soon as we know we can manage to have that large of an event with the electrical that we have in place now, prior to the repairs, so we’ll see how that goes,” she said.
She said she’s targeting early fall as a tentative date for the festival. Foster also said the park was working on grants to help fund wheelchair-accessible playgrounds at two of the county parks.