The closure of the Lake Clare Fitness Park is a sign of the times.
The obstacle run closed earlier this year after a child was allegedly injured while using one of the fitness training obstacles, according to the park organizers.
Unfortunately, the child wasn’t the only person hurt in the incident. The entire community is now suffering because of the accident.
The fitness park attracted people from across the United States. While our reporting shows that most people who used the park were from our region, we witnessed and reported a story about a truck driver from Pennsylvania seeing the park as he made a delivery near Huntington. When he got home, he decided he wanted to make a stop in Huntington during a road trip with his family to let his kids enjoy the hard work of our local community.
Military clubs from across Indiana also used the park as a training ground. Young children and teenagers from across Huntington County flocked to the park. Fathers and mothers enjoyed quality time with their families for the past few years, but sadly that’s all come to an abrupt stop this year.
All playground equipment involves some level of danger. Kids enjoy climbing on top of playground roofs, tubes and going the wrong way up the slide. Young children can fall from the monkey bars even if they are using them properly, and even without equipment, people twist their ankles as they run on undeveloped ground.
There is no way to tell if the alleged lawsuit will prevail in court, especially since the legal threat reported by park organizers hasn’t been readily available for the public to view. No matter what happens, the court system will allow all parties to present their case before deciding how to proceed.
In the meantime, the lawsuit threat has scared away the park’s insurance company, according to park leaders, leaving the entrance gate shut and families left to find other places to promote physical fitness and family bonding.
We hope that Huntington Township officials find a way to secure insurance for the property and allow the park gates to open once again.
In Jennings County, the local government was able to have one of their county parks designated as an “extreme sports area,” which provides a certain level of protection for the local government from litigation for injuries that occur at Muscatatuck Park. The extreme sports designation is part of our Indiana Code.
The area is home to one of Indiana’s only areas where the public can rock climb on public land. The park also features an extensive system of mountain biking trails.
Both of those activities involve a great deal of risk, but it’s nice to know that there are legal avenues to offer risky activities at public parks. By enjoying the park and the things it has to offer, the participants are automatically assuming responsibility for their participation in inherently dangerous recreation.
As with all laws, there are caveats and standards that must be met, but we hope local officials look into this as a possible avenue to secure future insurance for the local obstacle course.
It’s a sad sign of the times when people have to go through such lengths to offer activities that involve risk of injury, especially since risk of injury is prevalent in most things we do day to day. But laws are laws for a reason, so the park organizers will have to navigate the best way forward in order to open the gates once more.
A group of local veterans put a lot of time, effort and money into building something to make our community better. Hopefully this hurdle will turn the park into something even greater once the details are worked out.
Here’s to hoping that all of the issues are resolved quickly so that our community can once again gather and enjoy this local gem. We know the public is excited to figure out how it can help restore the park to its former glory.