Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Drake Goetz memory honored through new park

Posted: Monday, September 10, 2018

Drake Goetz Memorial Park will soon become a part of Huntington County at the corner of 400 N and 350 E. The park is a vision of the family and friends of Drake Goetz who passed away from injuries sustained in an accident in November 2017.

The vision for the park was formed by a rare friendship between Goetz and Carter Mertz. According to those that knew Goetz, the pair had a rare bond, and the new park will honor that cherished friendship. Mertz and everyone who knew Goetz felt the positive impact that he made on their lives, and believe that his spirit of inclusion will continue through the park.

Drake Goetz Memorial Park will be built on four acres of donated farm ground, in a three phase plan, to be completed in the spring of 2021. It will be the only park in Union Township and will be located along a popular bike route across from Union Church.

Plans include the first Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved playground in Huntington County. According to organizers of the park, 979 disabled children under the age of 18 currently reside in Huntington County, and a place is needed where children of all abilities can participate.

Organizers of the Drake Goetz Memorial Park’s mission statement says they want: “To provide a safe place where faith, families and friendships grow as the community comes together to participate in sport, play and leisure.” Recreational areas for young and old to gather with friends will be present, a pavilion will be built where families can enjoy the outdoors and walking paths will be constructed to encourage healthy lifestyles through exercise.

The first phase toward building the park includes property preparation, walking paths, basketball courts and a soccer field. The estimated completion date for this phase is the spring of 2019 at a cost of $283,000.

The second phase will be the playground, which will include playground equipment, wheelchair activities and crawl through equipment for the walking challenged. It will also have sensory equipment for children that are stimulated by light and sound. The estimated completion for this area is the spring of 2020 at a cost of $503,000.

Phase three will include tennis courts, the pavilion, restrooms and landscaping. The estimated completion is the spring of 2021 at $230,000. The total cost for Drake Goetz Memorial Park is estimated to be $1,016,500.

Funds toward the completion of the park are being raised through benefits and private donations.  Several in-kind donations such as excavating equipment, fuel, stone, tile and more have been made.

Additional fundraisers are planned including a Pancake Breakfast, Saturday, September 15 from 7 to 11 a.m., at American Legion Post 160, Roanoke. A freewill offering will cover the cost of pancakes and sausage.

A Baked Potato Bar and Auction will take place Friday, October 12 from 5 to 8 p.m., at Union Church, 3688 E 400 N. A freewill offering will benefit the park and cover the cost of a loaded potato just the way you like it! The auction will begin at 6:30 with items from Peg Perigo, Vera Bradley, Cookie Cottage and Weaver Popcorn. The auction will also include spa packages, hair salon packages, movie tickets, dining cards, a photo session with Desirae Bruce Photography, toys, tools, gift cards and more.

Autumn Grey will play a benefit concert at the Cottage Event Center, Roanoke, on Friday, November 16. Schwan’s has an ongoing fundraiser for the park, which began June 1 and will continue through October 14. Visit https://www.schwans-cares.com/campaigns/38412-drake-goetz-park.

For information about the park visit the web page, www.drakegoetzpark.org or see Facebook, drakegoetzmemorialpark; Instagram, #drakegoetzmemorialpark or call Jean Pasko, (260) 403-4494 or Shelli Goetz, (260) 224-3151.

Contributions for the park can be made through: The Huntington County Community Foundation-Drake Goetz Memorial Park, 356 W. Park Drive, P.O. Box 5037, Huntington, IN 46750 or www.huntingtonccf.org/crowdfund/drake.