Winamac Park Board Hears Lighting Proposals, As Planning Begins for Memorial Bridge Centennial

Efforts to add a decorative lighting feature to the Winamac Town Park’s swinging bridge will be able to move ahead. On Thursday, the town’s park board learned more about the various options from Mike Brubaker with Associated Controls + Design and John Ford with Carl Stahl Architektur.

For the main part of the multicolored lighting feature, Brubaker said they could either install a lighting mesh on the sides or simply outline the existing structure. “This follows the cable, the catenary itself,” he explained. “It follows the underside of the bridge, the deck, and it follows all the verticals.” The park board members preferred the second option, noting that the mesh could affect the views from the bridge, and kids may be tempted to climb on it.

Brubaker also discussed some additional features, such as lighting the bottom of the bridge to reflect off the water and additional lights on the towers. He explained the tower lights would shine down on the structure, as well as the walking surface. “What I was looking at for yours was from the top down, for a couple reasons,” he said. “One, it gets the lights up out of reach, but also, the shape really plays well, to having light coming from the top down on those towers. We’re proposing color-changing lights, so they could be this or they could also just be white.”

The whole thing could be programmed with different color schemes for various holidays, and town officials would be able to control it remotely. The lighting feature would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the exact price depending on whether one or both sides of the bridge would get lights, and the number of extra features.

Greg Henry has been spearheading the effort. His hope is to raise the necessary funds over the next four years through grants and private donations, with the goal of having a re-dedication and lighting ceremony on its centennial, July 4, 2023. “This is not just Winamac,” Henry said. “This is the whole county, more or less. That’s everybody’s bridge, and everybody uses it. They come from all over. So I don’t think you’re going to have a difficult time with somebody saying, ‘Hey, I got $25, $50,’ and they start adding up. There’s going to be people that are going to give more than that. I’ve already heard that.”

As a next step, Board President Chris Schramm and the rest of the members gave their approval to let Henry move ahead with forming a committee to start working on plans. “If there’s monies or grants available to move on with that, get your committee going and then come back to us in a few months, ‘Okay, here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what we think we can generate. Here’s what we think we can do,’ and then come back to us then, I don’t think anybody’s opposed to that,” Schramm said. “I think that’s a good idea.”

Meanwhile, town manager and park board member Brad Zellers said the bridge will be inspected this summer, which will include a check for lead paint. He expects to have a formal proposal for next month’s board meeting.