KENDALLVILLE — Fundraising for the expansion of the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex has received a boost from the Community Foundation of Noble County.

Kendallville Park Board President Kevin Jansen and Park and Recreation Department director Jim Pankop recently accepted a $50,000 grant to assist with the recreation complex’s Phase 2 expansion.

“It’s good news,” Pankop said Wednesday.

With that, about $373,132 has been raised in private donations, pledges and grants as of Wednesday, according to Pankop. A Dekko Foundation challenge grant will match every dollar raised up to $500,000.

The first phase of the 89-acre complex on Allen Chapel Road, which opened Aug. 1, 2006, at a cost of $1.4 million, has been such a success in hosting events from March through October and attracting visitors to Kendallville that city officials and Park Board members are seeking support for the expansion.

The Allen Chapel Road complex has eight multiuse ball fields arranged in two pinwheels, along with concessions and restrooms. The site has three soccer fields, basketball courts, a 10-foot-wide concrete path for bicycles and pedestrians, landscaped walkways, lighting, irrigation and a maintenance building.

Improvements made since the complex opened include: a pavilion funded and built by the Kendallville Rotary Club; trees planted by the Kendallville Rotary Club; a batting cage structure funded by Wayne Township and built by the Park Department; six shuffleboard courts; a playground area; three practice ball fields on the east side of Allen Chapel Road; and three horseshoe pits.

A manager was hired to oversee the maintenance and use of the complex, and to bring in events for groups to use the facilities and generate income.

In July, the Park Board began a campaign to raise about $2.75 million for Phase 2 that will add a second pinwheel of four youth ball fields, complete with fencing, lights, a concession stand and restrooms, and irrigation. An additional soccer field will be added north of the Allen Chapel Road entrance.

Paved sidewalks connecting the pinwheels and soccer fields, nature trails connecting to Bixler Lake Park, a new electronic entrance sign, paving, lighting and striping the parking areas, a mobile amphitheater for concerts, movies and children’s theater productions, and an endowment fund are also included in the plan.

Lighting and paving the expansive parking areas are expensive propositions. The existing ball fields have 17 light towers.

Next month, the Park Board and the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex fundraising committee will apply for a $400,000 grant from Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority, which oversees Regional Cities Initiative funding. The RDA has already committed about $26 million of the $42 million Regional Cities grant.

This month, the fundraising campaign received donations from: Larry and Jane Doyle, $12,500; Shepherd’s Chevrolet Buick GMC, $10,000; Jac Klinger, Michael Corps, Noble REMC and Slater’s Concrete Products, $250 each; and Scott and Carla Butler, $100.

Donations are tax-deductible. Interested individuals can pick up a pledge card or make donations at the Youth Center, 211 Iddings St. For more information about the project, call 347-1064.

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