Economy & Finance

County hopes to transform Burdette Park from swimming pool to a destination

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— In the coming weeks, Vanderburgh County officials want to begin transforming Burdette Park from a “big swimming pool” to a destination location.

In its first meeting of 2013, the Vanderburgh County Council supported the County Commissioners’ plan to hire SMG Evansville — the company that handles marketing for The Centre — to also promote Burdette Park. However, the commission has not yet requested money to hire the company or hashed out a plan with SMG.

A date to vote on a proposal has not been set.

“We think we’re going to be able to make this a better place,” Commission President Marsha Abell told the County Council at its Wednesday morning meeting. “We want SMG to help us find events and things to help get people to Burdette Park.”

SMG might also redesign the park’s logo and website, produce television and print advertisements and bring in new events. But nothing has been decided.

“We haven’t gotten into the facility,” said Daren Stearns, general manager for SMG Evansville. “We’re hoping to be doing that next week. We’re excited about the possibility.”

Burdette Park features a BMX racetrack, chalets and party houses, camping, fishing lakes, a miniature golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, waterslides, a children’s spray park and playgrounds.

The commission might choose to hire SMG to manage the entire facility, not just its marketing, in a few years when the park’s current manager, Steve Craig, retires. The base rate for such a service is $25,000, Stearns said.

The commission says the contract should more than pay for itself with the business it will bring in.

“The idea is it will not cost the county any dollars,” said Commissioner Joe Kiefer. SMG has “facility management experience. It will be $25,000 well spent, and we’ll be getting a return on our investment.”

Additionally, the county may eventually hire SMG to promote the Old Courthouse and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum, both of which have space available to rent for events and gatherings, Abell said.

In other business, the seven-person council reappointed Tom Shetler to serve as council president. Pete Swaim will serve as vice president.
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