The Town of Hanover is looking to ramp up its Parks Department in the coming months, with new potential events, facilities improvements and a parks director for the first time in the town’s history, Town Council members discussed Tuesday night.

Hanover Park has been a point of emphasis for Town Council in recent months, with a new volleyball court, tennis building/shelter house and toppers for new baseball fields being some of the improvements added over the course of the past year. Recognizing the park as the town’s biggest asset and a high priority after years of neglect and disrepair, Clerk Treasurer Keith Mefford laid out several ideas to draw the community in with the help of outside funding Tuesday.

“The park’s definitely our biggest asset, but it’s been neglected for a while now,” Mefford said.

The focus on expanding the Parks Department has resulted in the creation of two new boards: the Hanover Park Board made up of members of Town Council and the Park Advisory Committee, consisting of Beaver Server, Doug Rusk, Rick Schnabel, Nancy Totten, Narci Burress, Kevin Jester and Kelly Lambert.

Hanover is also looking to form a “beautification committee” tasked with upgrading the appearance of the park.

Mefford went through discussion points from the advisory board’s first meeting on Sept. 9 and gave an update on the search for a parks director. As of the application deadline on Sept. 11, four have applied, he said. The Town will announce its decision at a future meeting and the director will make $35,000 a year.

Town Council at previous meetings has voiced the need for a director who can oversee maintenance of park facilities, pursue funding opportunities and organize events that utilize the park for more events and age groups than youth leagues and athletic teams from Southwestern schools.

New events might include regular musical performances once or twice a month, similar to the monthly Music in the Park hosted by the City of Madison. Mefford said the Advisory Committee was in talks with singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley to bring a live performance to the park this fall, and that could be a good way to lay the groundwork for future concerts throughout the spring and summer. Performances could feature both a local artist and headliner to draw in crowds.

Board member Treva Shelton noted that local residents on Facebook were talking about the need for live outdoor music following the last Music in the Park performance of the season on Sept. 11. The Town also recently looked into obtaining an alcohol permit and reached out to the Historic Broadway Hotel and Tavern in Madison to set up a cash bar at the park for those types of events, Mefford said.

He said the concerts would take place at a recently-renovated amphitheater, which Town crews spent last week working to remove old decking, lay gravel and construct forms to support a new concrete platform. Old metal seats were also removed in favor of an open grassy setting where guests can bring lawn chairs, Mefford said.

He also mentioned several other ideas to get the greater community involved at the park, including craft shows, movies, flea markets, or even one big annual event for local businesses similar to Friendship Flea Market.

Another potential attraction that is under consideration is a splash pad, which the council hopes will be modeled similar to the splash pad in Charlestown and funded through a 50/50 matching grant. Before the Town can pursue any state funding for that, however, it must first develop and deliver a five-year plan for the park to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Aside from events and improvements to park grounds, the Parks Department has also discussed how to lease and charge for space, mostly for the tennis courts that Southwestern’s tennis teams use for practice.

While Southwestern shared the costs of a tennis court resurfacing project, Mefford addressed the need for an ongoing annual agreement with the district and allocation of time slots so that practices don’t interfere with others in the community who want to use the courts. Discussions also centered on verifying fundraisers at the park and other procedural concerns, he said.

Town Council will meet again Oct. 6 for a work session at 5:30 p.m., followed by a budget hearing at 6 p.m. and a regular meeting after the hearing.

Other council business Tuesday night included:

• Declined an offer to buy Hanover Baptist Church for about $550,000. Council members toured the building and thought about using it as a space for parking and events, but decided against that due to budget priorities with the park.

• Voted to accept a donation of property by Bob Ireland at 250 Marine Street. Mefford said the Town is unsure what purpose it might serve at the time.

• Approved a motion to sell two Hanover-owned lots at 132 Maple Street and 138 Ohio Avenue for development.