VALPARAISO | You're in Valparaiso to have a nice dinner at one of the city's downtown restaurants, and, after the meal, you wonder what's happening in town that you might enjoy watching. What do you do?
Beginning in April, you can take out your phone and call up the Valparaiso Parks Department app for a complete list of activities in and around the downtown, especially at Central Park Plaza.
As part of the city's economic development income tax budget for 2014, $6,000 is set aside to pay Nine Magnets LLC, based in Portage, to develop the parks app, which will enable people not only to check on events but to submit calendar events.
Events submitted for listing on the app will first go to Dan McGuire, recreation superintendent, for final approval.
"We had discussions about wanting to have something where people could do this," McGuire said. "(City Administrator) Bill Oeding got the name of the company, and I got in touch with them to develop it."
In addition to an events calendar, the app also will show where parking is. It will list activities organized by the parks department, by the Valparaiso Community Festivals office and by others, such as the Chicago Street Theater and Memorial Opera House.
Special promotions by the downtown restaurant group will be listed, too. Downtown activities will be the initial focus of the app, but by the end of the year it will include all activities being promoted by parks officials anywhere in the city, McGuire said.
Eventually, McGuire said, the app will have the ability to call up schedules for soccer, baseball and other activities. When Central Park Plaza is expanded next year to include the William E. Urschel Pavilion with its ice rink, it will have the hours the rink is open as well as listing other events there.
"It will list special promotions, like early-bird specials, and will provide a 3-D tour of the park's facilities," McGuire said. "The app will be announced on Facebook and on our website. It's our first app, but the VCF already has one that focuses on its events. Their events will be included in this app, but they will keep theirs for the special promotions they have."
At this point, Nine Magnets is still building the app and entering events in the calendar and testing it. When ready, it will be available to the public for free.