GREENFIELD — Installing a splash pad at Riley Park, renewing discussions about a new county jail and converting the Greenfield-Central High School football field to synthetic turf.
Community leaders have long to-do lists for 2017, they told business leaders Tuesday at a state of the community address during a Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Each January, the gathering serves to educate residents about how local departments plan to address issues of public concern and how tax dollars will be used to fund solutions.
Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, county councilman Bill Bolander, Hancock Regional Hospital CEO Steve Long, Greenfield-Central School Superintendent Harold Olin and Joe Skvarenina, the chamber board chair, met to discuss what’s ahead for Hancock County this year.
Bolander, the Hancock County Council president, said county officials this year will ramp up efforts to ease overcrowding at the Hancock County Jail — which he characterized as one of the biggest issues facing the council.
Bolander expects county officials to begin meeting in coming weeks to discuss potential solutions — such as building a new facility or expanding the county’s community corrections programming to include low-level offenders currently housed at the jail.
The county’s council members, commissioners and jail staff are expected to weigh in.
Bolander said a contributing factor to the growing jail population is the drug epidemic plaguing Hancock County and other communities.
“We’re going to have to address (the overcrowding) because it’s getting to the point where if we don’t, we’re liable to run into lawsuits,” he said.
The county’s biggest school district is planning two renovation projects for 2017, Olin said Tuesday.
After two and a half years of debate, Greenfield-Central School Board members approved the construction of a roughly $820,000 artificial turf field late last year.
In coming months, schools officials will launch an effort to raise about $600,000 needed to complete the project. During the summer, construction crews will begin work to convert the field, and the new turf is expected to be ready by next football season.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” Olin said. “You’re going to see a lot of trucks moving dirt starting in early June this year.”
The school district also is planning to renovate parts of Greenfield Intermediate School. Of the district’s seven buildings, the intermediate school, which houses fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, is in the most need of interior updates, Olin said.
City of Greenfield
City officials say one of their top priorities in 2017 is to make good on a promise to improve the local pool facility.
Fewell told those gathered for the luncheon that city officials plan to install a splash pad at Riley Pool once the season closes late this summer. The splash pad will include a variety of water features, including a dump bucket.