March 18, 2021

Millions In Investment Coming To Four Indy Parks

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Riverside Park

Riverside Park

Indianapolis City-County Councilors approved funding to start planning millions in city investments.  The package includes nearly $45 million for Indianapolis Parks.

WFYI’s Jill Sheridan talked with Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot about what improvements could be coming and the importance of the investment. She says the timing is perfect.

Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot: And of course, especially poignant right after, after the last year, as we've all seen and all felt. The need to go out into public spaces and to be out in nature, whether it was to combat stress or to safely see a friend from far away or something. So people have really, really turned to parks. We've continued to serve meals and find ways, you know, to help kids and families have, you know, safe and healthy activities in the midst of all this.

For reference, the park's capital improvement budget every year is about $4.6 million. So this infusion will allow us to do, you know, a few projects around the city that many people long before me, had been dreaming about doing for a very long time.

Jill Sheridan: These are long time coming plans. What does it mean to be able to have the money to really, you know, make sure that there is park equity now?

Broadfoot: We're hitting four of the 212 parks, and they are parks that have long visionary plans attached to them for the most part.  And, you know, what we tell communities when we do these plans is you know, they don't come with a checkbook, right. But we certainly often hope that you know, we'll find resources.

So to have, you know, $7 million to realize even more steps. Grassy Creek in particular is going to be getting more attention. It's a regional park. It's a huge beautiful property. On the east side at 30th German Church with boardwalks, wetlands, walking trails.  We will be getting out and talking to community members. Once the funding comes through. We're excited to re engage to add a grassy Creek for sure.

Sheridan: And you know, some of these parks like you mentioned, Grassy Creek are in neighborhoods that have experienced a lot of disinvestment over the years in our city. Frederick Douglass Park…. $20 million, come into that park. To see that type of investment now more than ever, when we're hoping to invest in neighborhoods that really need it around Indianapolis.

Broadfoot: Yeah, there were lots of tears shed, when we announced that we were able to build a new family center of Frederick Douglass Park. Frederick Douglass has a long history, It's a very active, amazing space. But also a place you know, that is the embodiment of segregation in our city. You know, it was the African American park at one point, the park is actually celebrating its 100th anniversary this July.

The community there has longed for and supported the idea of a new family center for a very, very long time. And I again, you know, I will acknowledge their community leaders that have been working towards this for a lot longer than I've been in this job, but I'm so proud and thrilled to finally help deliver this for them.

Sheridan: And another park receiving $11 million. That's the Riverside Park, you know, you mentioned beautiful, large green spaces that have so much potential. I mean, that sounds pretty exciting… some of the things that may be happening there.

Broadfoot:  Riverside Regional Park is just a gift. You know, when you think about that amount of green space along the river, that close to the center of the city, you know, surrounded by neighbors who love their Park. In the midst of a city that, you know, I think increasingly values park spaces.

A lot of folks, I think, are familiar with the riverside Regional Park master plan that we went through in 2017. We worked with the community to create a really lofty plan. And when we talk about Riverside Park, we're talking about the entire Regional Park from, you know, 16th or 18th Street all the way up, you know, to 38th Street. So that's South Grove golf course, the Riverside Park proper with the pool in the Family Center, and all the shelters and sports fields. It's the former Riverside golf course soon to be Riverside Adventure Park. It's Lake Sullivan. It's the velodrome, you know, all of that is Riverside Park in a space much larger than Central Park. So, this $11 million, will allow us to take some steps to implement more pieces of the master plan.

I went back and looked and I think we've invested you know, with the help of Lilly Endowment and others, there's been an investment of over $16 million in Riverside Park in the last few years. So excited to keep building upon that.

Sheridan: Because people really do need parks. Everyone needs access to a park and should have access in their city. Looking forward with this investment, what would you like people to know?

Broadfoot: I think I would say that $40 plus million sounds like a lot of money and it is an incredible amount of money for us. But my hope is that it spurs perhaps more investment and more engagement, right. So I'm hopeful that as you know, philanthropic organizations, you know, donors around the city see that the city is investing so much in these important spaces.  The gratitude I feel is immense. And it's been a joy to get to tell community members that we're able to do this.

Krannert Park on the west side is the other park set to receive $7 million in investments. Final plans will be discussed in the coming months.

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