Marietta’s recreation mecca

Marietta’s Indian Acres Park has it all-boating, swimming, softball, basketball, tennis, a skate park and a playground. Encompassing more than 10 acres, it’s one of the city’s most-used park areas, and includes the northern entrance to Marietta’s 3-mile River Trail.

“The ball fields there are heavily used on a lot of afternoons and almost every night during the summer,” said Susan Joyce, recreation clerk for the city of Marietta.

She said the Marietta Softball Association helps maintain both softball fields in the park, Hadley Field 1 and 2.

“The city maintains the building and fences, but the softball association fees pay for the field maintenance and a caretaker,” Joyce explained.

North of the ball fields lies the $3.3 million Marietta Aquatic Center that draws tens of thousands of visitors to the park every summer.

“This was our ninth year for the aquatic center,” Joyce said, adding that the facility is usually a major revenue source for the city recreation department, but that may not be the case this year due to the rainy summer’s impact on attendance.

The center is a water park with attractions that include a pirate ship, water slide and a lazy river tubing area.

“We eventually want to add more features to the aquatic center, and are still ironing out what those will be,” Joyce said. “But a lot will depend on available funding.”

The newest addition at Indian Acres is a skate park, complete with a concrete flow bowl and recently-added street course.

“The street course, with bench and rail obstacles, was completed early this summer,” said city development director Andy Coleman. “The city also installed an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant sidewalk from the skate park to the Indian Acres parking lot as part of the second phase.”

The estimated $55,000 project was partially funded through an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Grant as well as Community Development Block Grant monies and contributions from the local Skaters United group.

The second phase brought the total amount expended on the skate park to around $175,000.

Joyce said another recent upgrade was made to the park’s playground with the addition of a fire engine and police car to the kiddie facilities, compliments of donations from members of the Marietta fire and police departments.

The park restrooms were also renovated within the last few years.

“We’d like to get some new charcoal grills and picnic tables at Indian Acres, too,” Joyce said. “People used to like to cook out there a lot.”

City law director Paul Bertram III has fond memories of going to the park when he was young.

“When I was a kid the park used to have grills and picnic tables and our family would have picnics there,” he said. “My dad and about 10 others used to play tennis on the Indian Acres courts every week. And my friends and I would spend long summer days fishing from the boat dock or riverbanks.”

Marietta Councilman Harley Noland, who chairs council’s lands, buildings and parks committee, said Indian Acres had its beginnings as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to install boat ramp facilities along the area rivers.

“And I believe the city’s first public tennis courts were built at Indian Acres,” he said. “At one time there was also a large picnic area, but I recently did a rough survey and probably 80 percent of the grills and tables are no longer there.”

Noland said many of those facilities may have been washed away during past floods as the park is in a low-lying flood-prone area. But he said new grills and metal picnic tables could be installed that would not be as susceptible to flooding.

Coleman said area residents have listed the purchase of more tables and grills for Indian Acres during recent public meetings on how to use the city’s annual CDBG entitlement.

As for other needed park improvements, an approximate 4,600-foot paved walking trail, installed several years ago by the Kiwanis Club, winds through the park, but the pathway is narrowed by an overgrowth of grass in several locations and could use some maintenance.

Coleman also said a large mound of topsoil, excavated during construction on the skate park earlier this year, still remains just south of the facility. He said the mound will eventually be removed and used for fill dirt on other city projects.

Noland noted Indian Acres is also the location of a majority of the city’s water well fields, which must be protected from uses that could result in pollution of the water source.

“I think parks and well fields go together very well,” he said.