Earlhamites’ senior project revitalizing Richmond’s Middlefork Reservoir | Earlham College
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Earlhamites’ senior project revitalizing Richmond’s Middlefork Reservoir

April 10, 2018

Earlhamites have once again partnered with local parks officials to revitalize a public recreational space nearby campus.

Six Environmental Studies seniors — Eli Ramthun, Andy Landy, Malia Staab, Tommy Murphy, Leila Jakobson and Ziqi Wang — have launched a public fundraising campaign and master planning process at Richmond’s Middlefork Reservoir. The project will result in renovations to the park’s boat docks and Super Park, plus add new amenities like canoeing and kayaking to the facility. Long-term recommendations expected to be included in the final master plan, the students say, include adding a waterfront restaurant and monthly public events during the spring and summer that offer food trucks and live entertainment, among other activities.

“We want to make a high impact, tangible difference in the Richmond community, and one of the first steps is bringing families and children back to the area with a new and improved playground,” Ramthun says.“We have an awesome opportunity through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and Patronicity to match any funds we raise through this project. We hope to raise up to $150,000.”

With volunteer support from Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Richmond, the reservoir’s boat docks have been repaired and upgraded, giving the waterfront a fresh look. The next project will target the Super Park, which was built in the 1990s, has many pieces of obsolete equipment and is no longer ADA compliant. First Bank Richmond has already signed on as a donor to support this project, parks officials say.

“We hope to bring a strong educational focus to the new playground so that kids can play and learn at the same time,” Staab says. “A playground with features based on the water table and the process that the water goes through to get from the reservoir to their tap can help educate children and teach them about their connection with the natural world around them.”

Middlefork Reservoir, which is located at 1750 Sylvan Nook Drive on the city’s north end, spans 177 acres with an additional 100 acres of land surrounding the water. In addition to boating and the Super Park, the facility offers a bait shop, restrooms, concessions, a dog park, fishing, volleyball courts, nature and picnic areas, and a radio-controlled airplane area.

The students’ work will be celebrated during a public event on the reservoir’s grounds on April 15, from 2 - 4 p.m. The event will include live music, food trucks, canoe tours, model aircraft demonstrators and a unique scavenger hunt for dogs and their owners.

“Working with these fine students has been an amazing experience and has brought the community together in efforts to revitalize the reservoir,” says Denise Retz, superintendent of the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department. “Their work has seemed effortless because of their many talents. They have encouraged many other community members and donors to step up and help make their overall vision a success.”

This is the second consecutive year that Earlhamites have worked with the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department to revive a public space. Last fall, five graduates from the Class of 2017 built Playground With A Purpose at Clear Creek Park. It is the city’s first fenced-in playground for children of all abilities.

This community-based initiative is yet another example of the kinds of projects that are encouraged by the College whereby students work on real projects with real consequences at the local, regional and global level. A major initiative at Earlham called the EPIC Advantage further provides the offer of funding to complete a community project, internship or research experience for all interested students before graduation.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of meaningful change in Richmond,” Staab says. “This project, in partnership with the community, can allow Middlefork Reservoir to flourish once more.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success.

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.


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