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Winter forces parks to reschedule programs

In a winter that feels like it will never end, now comes news that summer is being delayed.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation officials told parks board members Thursday that the start of many summer programs is being pushed back because children will still be in school.

The department’s Perry Ehresman said Franke Park Day Camp has eliminated its first week entirely and now will start June 16. The last day of school for Fort Wayne Community Schools – barring further snow days – is June 11.

The Lifetime Sports Academy will now start June 12 instead of June 9.

“We’re moving everything back to accommodate kids being in school through June 11 – and it may shift again,” Ehresman said.

The Summer Playground programs will start as usual, but will be moved back to after-school hours until summer break begins.

Parks Director Al Moll warned board members there may be a financial effect as well, because swimming pools will only be open on the weekends until school is out.

“You need kids to have programs,” Board President Richard Samek said.

In the meantime, staff is dealing with a harsh winter, which has meant overtime for snow-clearing crews, broken equipment and depleted salt supplies.

The department’s Steve McDaniel said the entire winter’s allocation of salt was used in the first five weeks of winter and skyrocketing demand has made it hard to get. The department was able to piggyback on the city’s purchase of salt from Texas, so it has salt it can use, but it cost four times as much.

Later in the meeting, Moll outlined the department’s goals for the year, which include considering a dog park at the north end of Johnny Appleseed Park, where the ball diamond used to be. Other goals include developing a concept plan for converting the former Franklin School site into a park, improving the entry to Foster Park, and finding solutions to heavy traffic at Franke Park.