DELPHI, Ind. (WLFI) - Construction on the Abby and Libby Memorial Park is getting off the ground. The park is located along the Hoosier Heartland Corridor just northeast of Delphi. As News 18 previously reported, this memorial park is honoring the lives of Abigail Williams and Liberty German. The two girls were killed while walking a trail in Delphi in 2017.
Right now, the park grounds look like just a bunch of gravel and dirt. But if you look closer, you can see progress happening. Three softball diamonds are laid out, a parking lot area is designated and space for the amphitheater has been cleared, along with the beginnings of a walking trail.
"It's been a collaborative effort with a lot of companies to get us to where we are today," said Mike Patty, Libby's Grandfather. He's part of the L&A Park Foundation, the nonprofit that is making this memorial park happen. He said it's not cheap to make this park come to life, but they have seen an outpouring of support from businesses, friends, neighbors and complete strangers.
"There's a lot of people who want to see this come to fruition," he said.
Milestone Contractors has spent this past week donating labor and equipment to start some of the initial excavation of the grounds. They are working together with competitor company Rieth-Riley Construction Company to help get the grounds started. A group of Milestone workers wrapped up work for the day on Friday around 5 o'clock. The infield gravel was put in thanks to help from US Aggregates, Fox Hauling and Pearson's. RW Gross drew up the plans for the park.
They've also seen financial generosity. As we previously reported, the nonprofit was raising $50,000 for an Indiana Housing and
Community Development Authority match grant. They hit that mark 30 days ahead of schedule and have since continued raising money past that goal.
"We've had people from all over the state, even all over the nation donate to that," said Patty. "I just want to say thank you to all those people and let them know that their contribution helped."
The match grant money will be used to build the amphitheater. The additional money they have raised will go towards the restrooms/utilities building. As of Friday afternoon, the crowdfunding page had nearly $64,000 from more than 650 donors. But why this park? Why softball fields and an amphitheater?
"Libby played softball for years and it was hard to hold tournaments with one single field," he said. "Our Babe Youth program doesn't have a home field here in Delphi and once we're done, they will."
Patty said the fields will be dual purpose for baseball as well. He said both Abby and Libby were in band and had a love for music. He hopes the amphitheater will be a place where the local school band can come and put on a concert, and people can enjoy the arts.
The land was originally owned by the state. So Patty said he went to Governor Eric Holcomb for help. The state donated the land to the Deer Creek Township who then deeded the land to the L&A Park Foundation. A little less than two acres of the land where the current driveway is located belonged to the Horn family, who eventually donated the land to the park. Jones Farms allows Patty to use a backhoe and any other equipment they have that may be needed.
Since they are a nonprofit, all these donations of land, labor, equipment and money are what's keeping the dream of the park alive. Patty said all these contributions are invaluable. He said because they are getting this park done through donations, grants and volunteering, it will take longer to see it complete. While they could theoretically hire people to do all these jobs, the fact that it is people and businesses showing they care through what they can provide makes this park a labor of love.
"It lets you know that there are people out there who care and want to help, they want to give and they want to support," he said.
And of course, this park is about keeping the memory alive of two young girls whose lives were cut short, for decades and generations to come.
"A little girl a decade from now could come and say what's this park about?" he said. "It will allow our kids to stay local, play ball, have a good time, come down to a park, enjoy it and remember the girls throughout all of this."
Patty said the ideal timeline goal is to have the grass planted this fall and so it will be ready for softball season in the spring. However he said that is contingent on how much more help they can get from the community on remaining projects, such as the septic system and road/trail paving. Anyone who wants to contribute to the park can email the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can still donate to the crowdfunding page here until August 14th.
In April, Indiana State Police released a new sketch, audio recording and video of who investigators believe is the man who killed the girls.
Police have received thousands of tips, but none have yet to lead to an arrest in this investigation. Anyone with information on the deaths of Abby and Libby should email email@example.com.