BRISTOL – Bristol has been working to improve their parks system. Equipped with basketball courts, a splash pad, walking trails, new benches and a new grill, the parks aren’t even close to done yet.

Cummins Park has recently received two new donations to continue improvements.

The first is a “free little library,” the first of it’s kind in Bristol. The “library” was donated by the Democratic Women of Elkhart County. Made by Dwight Fish, fourth district councilman of the City of Elkhart, it is constructed using repurposed wood.

“We hope to have more that we can put throughout the community,” Jill Swartz, deputy clerk for the Town of Bristol, said.

The little library is free and open to the public. Residents stop by to donate books to the library at any time, or stop by to pick up a book. All genres are encouraged.

“Any kinds of books are welcome,” Swartz said.

The second addition is a wooden train, donated by an anonymous individual.

The individual had built it for his own backyard and then realized that, at 32 feet long, it was simply too large for his property. So he donated it, along with the track he built for it to the Town of Bristol for use at the park. There will be a naming contest for the train in the future, although information for that is not yet available.

The additions are just a few of many to the park in recent years.

“When I was a little girl, all that was down there was the tennis court and the basketball court. There was nothing for kids to do down there at all,” she said.

About five years ago, a free splash pad was added, and later adult fitness classes and a walking path along the Saint Joseph River which is open year round- all free to the public.

“Since then, the increase in traffic has been unreal,” Swartz said.

The park department is also considering two additional features, but details on exact features aren’t yet decided.

To help the Bristol Parks Department, the park board is asking residents to consider becoming a member of, or donating to the Bristol Friends of the Park. More information on that can be gathered by emailing Jill Swartz at

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