During the summer of 2013, Mike Harding, a former resident and employee of Rea Park, returned to Terre Haute, IN only to see that Rea Park's historic clubhouse had fallen into disrepair. Mike had served as an assistant superintendent of instruction during his career as an Indiana public school administrator, and was aware grants may be available to help the park. He contacted two individuals to see if they could assist in obtaining funds from various sources for rehabilitating the clubhouse. These two individuals were Scott Williams of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation and Tommy Kleckner of Indiana Landmarks.
Over the course of the next several months, these three individuals met with Eddie Bird, superintendent of parks for Terre Haute. In November of 2013, the four agreed to develop a presentation that would be given to the Terre Haute Parks Board at their March, 2014 meeting. This presentation would emphasize the need to restore Rea Park's historic clubhouse, and eventually, renew the entire park.
On March 17, 2014, the group met with the Terre Haute Parks Board to present their ideas. The parks board gave their approval for a new group to work with Superintendent Bird and the Parks Board. Friends of Rea Park, a non-profit modeled off a friends group in Evansville, IN that wanted to save Bosse Field, would now be able to help the city further develop Rea Park. Indiana State Parks Foundation friends group guidelines were used as an example of how to organize and manage a friends group for Rea Park.
In August 2014, a meeting was conducted to inform the public about Friends of Rea Park, and to recruit new associates. It was conducted at the Rea Park clubhouse. After the meeting, several submitted their names declaring their interest in becoming founding members of Friends of Rea Park, Inc. From this group, a steering committee was formed.
A summary of major activities that have taken place since that time follows:
- Friends of Rea Park, Inc. submits an application to the IRS requesting 501(c)3 status to facilitate the fundraising process and gain tax advantages for donors and park supporters.
- The collection and review of historic documents associated with the early beginnings of Rea Park - clubhouse plans, newspaper articles, legal documents, etc. - begins.
- Initial public awareness activities - TV, radio and newspaper accounts - are conducted.
- Friends of Rea Park, Inc. is granted status as an IRS-approved 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
- Paperwork is filed on behalf of the Terre Haute Parks Department asking state and federal officials to place Rea Park on state and national registers of historic places.
- An Internet website and Facebook page were established for Friends of Rea Park, Inc.
- A successful grant application was submitted to a local foundation that results in $7,500 to complete a feasibility plan for renovating the park's historic clubhouse, and a master plan for the use of Rea Park's 160 acres.
- Friends of Rea Park, Inc. joins with Indiana State University's Department of Public Administration to develop and implement a public survey of interest in the renewal of Rea Park. Results show solid pubic support for improving and expanding existing facilities at the southside park.
- The Terre Haute Parks Board votes to replace the roof on the historic Rea Park clubhouse to preserve it for future renovation.
- Four distinct building plans with associated costs for the rehabilitation of the historic Rea clubhouse were completed by local architect Dan Sanders and his assistant Amanda Jukes. These plans were presented to the Terre Haute City Parks Board for their review and comment at their May 2016 monthly meeting. Of the four plans, Option C was preferred by the parks board and superintendent.
- During the May 2016 city parks board meeting an overall master plan for Rea Park is presented. This plan shows uses for the 60 to 70 non-golf acres along the South Seventh and Davis Avenue frontage. The plan calls for 1) a renewed/ expanded historic clubhouse or park activity center, 2) moving the tennis court complex to the southern end of the South Seventh Street frontage area, 3) using the existing tennis court area as a base for a new parking lot, 4) establishing a golf academy on the existing driving range, 5) building a health/wellness center on park property, 6) making room for a small area for general family recreation that could host a water splash pad, and 7) constructing a pathway within the park for walking, running and bike riding.
- Business consultants are asked their opinion of establishing a restaurant/food service on park property, operating out of the historic clubhouse.
- Rea Park is placed on the United States Register of Historic Places and Indiana's List of Significant Places by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
- A 40-foot flagpole with landscaping is placed to the east of the clubhouse to commemorate the contributions of past Rea Park golf professional Bill Kipple and former Rea Park greens superintendent Nick Alumbaugh.
- Fundraising planning activities for Rea park are halted due to the question of whether or not Rea Park will be contracted out to a private golf management company.
- A resolution to support the renewal of Historic Rea Park is approved by a 9-0 vote by the Terre Haute City Council at their May 10th meeting.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is finalized and signed by Friends of Rea Park, Inc.. and the Terre haute Parks Board/City Parks Department in August. This document outlines how funds raised will be collected, invested, and distributed.
- A fundraising plan is developed by RJL Solutions that provides guidance for Rea Park's renewal process for the period 2019 through 2022. This document outlines how city administrators and Friends of Rea Park, Inc. will work together to raise funds and establish new partnerships with neighboring organizations, state and federal officials, and private individuals and groups.
- Suggestions for a reconfigured Friends of Rea Park, Inc. steering group are proposed.
- Dialogue begins with officials from Terre Haute Regional Hospital, the Terre Haute Y, the Terre Haute Pickle Ball Association, the Indiana Golf Association, Westmister Village Retirement Community, and the Vigo County School Corporation.
Friends of Rea Park functions today as a fully-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit entity working with the Terre Haute Parks Department and Rea Park staff in an effort to beautify and maintain the park, as was Mrs. Rea's wish and the city's 1922 promise to the Rea Family.