Richmond, Indiana's once-popular Middlefork Reservoir is underutilized and aging. Earlham College environmental studies students are helping restore the area by creating a revitalization plan.
Senior Eli Ramthun says they envision a new playground, updated boating and fishing docks, water activity rentals, a full schedule of summer events, and maybe someday a waterfront restaurant.
"Currently there's a bait shop there that sells reheated food and candy bars, but we found a local partner who, hopefully, is going to be able to come in and cook fresh food," he says. The students' research shows there's strong public interest in the restaurant idea.
"We want to see the reservoir more utilized," Ramthun continues. "We want people to come out and have a place to be social in a beautiful, scenic, natural surrounding. We want a place for kids to play and people to have fun."
Richmond gets its drinking water from Middlefork Reservoir, but fishing revenues are down and the once state-of-the-art playground is more than 20 years out of date. The parks department wants the area to become a favorite local destination.
Superintendent Denise Retz says some changes are already in the works. "We're also trying to implement more community outreach... as well as getting more partners involved and bringing more events to the area so people really know what we have to offer and actually come out and partake in that."
She says revitalizing Middlefork Reservoir is a 2018 priority. The students secured a state grant that will match what they're able to raise to start the revitalization process.