|Photo Credit: Jason Clark- Evansville Courier & Press|
First of all I would like to thank the C&P for this rendering. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is also worth a thousand reasons why I continue to fight for what I believe is right for Evansville and not what is good for the local politicians who comprise the political machine that is solely responsible for today's boondoggle design. If Evansville is ever going to go back to doing great things, it must first break away from the chains of government so that things like "Roberts Park" never happen again.
Obviously, you need not look any farther than the exact area where Roberts Stadium and its 3 parking lots stood to understand that this park isn't even on the Roberts Stadium lot. In fact, both proposed dog parks, the "formal garden", the recreation fields, the playground, and even the new road going between them and running parallel to Boeke are in WESSELMAN PARK NOT ROBERTS PARK.
On the exact Roberts Stadium footprint we have a "great lawn" (gee that's going to bring in tourists by the thousands), a water feature along the Lloyd that just so happens to be controversial because it's already flooding (http://tristatehomepage.com/fulltext-news?nxd_id=622372), and two roads that already existed when Roberts Stadium existed. In fact, one of those roads was removed and now must be built back even though I lobbied for it to be repaired when it was still with Roberts Stadium and still mostly intact (http://rememberrobertsstadium.blogspot.com/2011/09/fire-evansville-vanderburgh-building.html).
So basically, everything you've ever heard the mayor speak of, whether it was a dog park, a skate park (which is in the parking area between Hartke and Swonder for some odd reason) a trail over to the new Lloyd Expressway pedestrian bridge had nothing to do with Roberts Stadium, they were all Wesselman Park issues which I talked about way back when...
With all of that being said, there is one thing, and it's a big one thing, that I find to be HIGHLY offensive. It's bad enough that Mayor Winnecke looked me and a several others straight in the eye and told us that we would get a proper final send off for Roberts Stadium (a ceremony that never happened), but it is equally offensive that this lot has NOTHING to memorialize Roberts Stadium, Mayor Hank Roberts, or Ralph Legeman, the architect of Roberts Stadium who also happens to own THE patent to the famous and world known Indiana field house design.
In Omaha, Nebraska, fans are getting to pay tribute to Rosenblatt Stadium in the correct manner which consists of a memorial that directly replicates the Rosenblatt Stadium design...
At Roberts Park, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, replicates the iconic Roberts Stadium gates, the iconic side brackets that ended up being used by Legeman in all of his other gyms that just so happen to be the biggest high school gyms in the world, or the iconic triangle sides that you could see a mile away on the Lloyd Expressway. There are no statues of Hank Roberts or Ralph Legeman (the city has $5-$10 million for this park but nothing for a few statues that pay tribute to the two people who made this lot iconic, famous, and one of kind? Yea right!). There is nothing, nothing but a green open lot that reminds residents of what happens when bad people make bad decisions.
As most of you know, I am still sick to my stomach that the city would rig a task force after members like me, Greg Stilwell, and Sylvia Trabits-Niemeier spent day after day working on this project which I talked about in an article published in the City-County Observer a few weeks ago...
But after looking at these designs, I am equally sick at the way this city government keeps disgracing Roberts Stadium and the noble leaders who helped get it built and made sure it was a success. The sad part about it is that we ALL could have won out of this. We could have repurposed Roberts Stadium for half the price of this park plan, we could have left a lot open for the EVSC, converted part of that lot into a "great lawn", while putting money back to redo Hartke Pool and expand Swonder with a permanent indoor skate park. It would have truly been "something for everyone"...
Since Roberts Stadium has been demolished, we have lost our indoor football team, our minor league basketball team the Evansville SkyHawks never got off the ground, our indoor soccer team is stuck in a facility too small to host traveling tournaments (heads in beds anyone?), Councilwoman Connie Robinson cannot get enough diverse acts here because there isn't a proper sized facility, UE's basketball attendance is at an all-time low, USI's PAC is beginning to show its age, and huge trade shows like the Boat Show will never have a facility that is both affordable and the proper size for them.
All of this is happening while the Icemen, the city's highest drawing sports team, had to play on the road while the city hosted the GLVC Tournament which was an attendance nightmare as only 1,500 fans tops were ever present at the 9,480 seat Ford Center. Not to mention, this all could have been fixed with the Innkeepers Tax that would funded these simple renovations and would have allowed us to avoid using any general funds from the city's budget. Today, not one hotel guest has saved one dime from the demolition of Roberts Stadium.
As we move along, we must make sure that funds aren't wasted on a park that isn't even a park. We must make sure that the city takes the proper steps towards eventually constructing a small-to-mid-sized facility, and we must make sure we continue to hold those politicians accountable who supported this project at the next round of elections which is in 2015.
This park isn't even a park. The city wants you to forget about Roberts Stadium. Will you remember Roberts Stadium?