Conservation unveils Central Park Master Plan

On Dec. 12, Conservation held an open house for the public to view the Central Park Master Plan. The plan is the result of over 800 surveys people filled out about the future of the park. (Image courtesy of Jones Co. Conservation)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “Fifty years out, what will Central Park look like?”

   That was the theme of the Dec. 12 open house where the public had the opportunity to review and offer feedback on the Central Park Master Plan.

   The Jones County Board of Supervisors designated $43,000 of ARPA funds toward the plan, a project led by Jones County Conservation.

   Conservation worked with the engineer firm Bolton & Menk on the master plan, which really began with a public survey.

   Conservation Director Brad Mormann shared that survey results were at an all-time high, with 804 responses.

   “That’s a record according to Bolton & Menk,” he said.

   What that tells Conservation is that people are clearly interested in the future of Central Park.

   Some of the highlights from the survey included the public wanting to see more modern campsites, more shelters, and more amenities, such as sewer, water, and electric.

   “There was a huge outpouring with the survey to provide us with guidance,” Mormann said. “They want growth and more opportunities.”

   Taking what the survey results showed, a total revamp of Central Park could range from $19 million to $23 million. This would entail:

   • Phase 2 and 3 of completing the restoration of the historic Fremont Mill Bridge

   • Creating a new main entrance into Central Park

   • Adding a campground on the Weers Addition

   • Hiring additional staff/personnel

   • Building a new pavilion along the north shore of the lake

   • Creating a new day-use area

   • Expanding the lakeside trail

   • Adding a maintenance area

   • Creating a lower camping loop and new/additional parking

   • Habitat restoration

   • Creating a central camping loop

   • Creating a west camping loop

   • Future phases of waste water treatment

   • Additional cabins

   Right now, the Weers Addition is a hayfield. Mormann said there would be minimal impact in terms of turning that ground into campsites.

   The master plan calls for 29 modern campsites on the Weers Addition, as well as a playground, and a shower house.

   More Central Park visitors that not prefer modern camping to primitive camping. And with modern camping comes the need for upgrades to the sites, not only for services, but the size of the lots as well. Central Park dates back to the 1960s. The size of campers has certainly changed since then.

   Where the pavilion sits now between the modern campsites and the beach would be removed to allow room for a day-use area.

   “These would be several small shelters and a playground,” Mormann said. “And it would connect with the path around the lake.”

   Conservation envisions a more welcoming entrance into the park rather than one that take visitors past the maintenance garages and sheds. As it sits today, Central Park could actually use more room for maintenance vehicles and equipment. Long-term, Mormann said installing solar panels would help to minimize the cost of electricity.

   A new entrance is proposed just south of the current one, taking visitors through a wooded area that opens up to the lake.

   The current modern campsites would allow for more space between campers, more parking, upgraded services, and a new shower house.

   There would still be sites available throughout the park for primitive camping and tent-use, while also offering utilities.

   “They would all have the opportunity to utilize electric and water at the sites,” offered Mormann.

   In August 2020, the pine forest was destroyed by the derecho. This area would be turned into space for modern cabins, offering full amenities. They would be able to sleep two to four or six to eight people.

   Mormann explained that adding more cabins, as well as all of the additional services, facilities, and features throughout Central Park would mean the need for more staff, especially during certain times of the year.

   “We’d have to increase personnel,” he said.

   The difference in the overall cost of carrying out the master plan is a difference between using gravel on the roadways and trails versus concrete.

   “I feel for the more part, we’ve met what the survey participants wanted,” said Mormann with the final plans. “Now, we just need to implement the project.”

   Budgeting and seeking funding will allow Conservation to carry out the master plan, bringing what the public wants to reality.

   Mormann plans to offer the master plan online for the public to view. Visit for more information.


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