Colombian park waiting for penguins, carousel

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Columbian Park is almost unrecognizable after the completion of several major projects.

Park officials are just emerging from Memorial Island’s grand opening and grand opening, but they say there’s still a lot of work to do and they’re still waiting to complete some key attractions.

“It has been an incredible transformation,” said Claudine Laufman, Superintendent of Lafayette Parks. “We still have a lot of landscaping… some plants and trees really can’t be planted until fall, but in total we’re planning a little over 450 plants, but we’ll be filling the lagoon later this year with fish. . “

The Jenks Rest building is demolished and new restrooms are filling its footprint by the end of fall.

“With all of these improvements, having new toilets is definitely something very important,” said Laufman.

As News 18 previously reported, the pandemic has put some park attractions on hold, two of which are about a year overdue, including the zoo’s penguin exhibit.

“Trying to transport across state lines only delays paperwork and so on, all attributed to the pandemic have really pushed back the date of arrival of these birds and of course everyone now knows that the penguins molt and we have to wait until they molt, ”Laufman says.

Meanwhile, the new carousel building is empty as the contractor hired to build the ride unexpectedly went bankrupt due to the pandemic.

“With this particular contract, there was a deposit situation,” Laufman says. “This entrepreneur went bankrupt, so I think there are legal issues that are being worked out right now.”

Lafayette Parks Foundation president Rachel Hazaray said officials would not take legal action for the $ 60,000 deposit because they are unlikely to get the money back.

Instead, they selected a new contractor: Western Train Company, which specializes in carousel rides and restorations.

The carousel will be finished by the spring of next year.

Once everything is in place, Laufman says the marketing team will take over.

“The physical aspect is done, but now it really becomes a fun challenge for our marketing team to really come up with a lot of programs and activities for our community to enjoy,” she says.