Lake resort at Strawtown gets approval from county

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Hamilton County’s Strawtown area in north Noblesville will soon be home to a new lake resort next to Strawtown Koteewi Park.

On Dec. 10, the Hamilton County Commissioners approved the ordinance that would rezone the land appropriately for the 55-acre development that will have camping, walking trails, a new, 20-acre lake, an event center and more at 23003 Ind. 37 N. and 22836 Essig Ave. in White River Township. Just across Essig Avenue is Strawtown Koteewi Park’s archery range, treetop suspension climbing, winter sledding hill and horse barn.

Hamilton County Parks Dept. Regional Parks Operation Manager Bruce Oldham, a 14-year employee of the department, is the owner and developer. Sean Cannon of Strawtown Property Management is part of the development team.

“Outdoor recreation and getting people into nature is a passion of mine,” Oldham said. “I saw a need to bring a different population of users out to the park and out to nature in general. Ultimately, our goal is to get families out experiencing nature together. As I was growing up, everyone had grandparents or an aunt and uncle who owned a farm. We all went and spent time there and we got to have those experiences, and unfortunately now, in today’s society, most grandparents are living in a condo. So, those opportunities for us as adults and parents are really limited, to be able to experience that time outdoors with our kids.

“The park is such a gem already, and there are so many different kinds of opportunities there. We wanted to offer a different type of accommodation.”

Water recreational activities like paddle boarding, canoeing, fishing and more will be allowed, but the developers will not allow motorized boats or watercraft on the lake, a 4-acre portion of which will be constructed in the first phase of development.

“We want to start offering rental opportunities prior to completion of (the entire development),” Oldham said. “We’ll basically split the property and be open on the recreational side of things while the rest of the lake is being built.”

The development also will feature a campstore, which will sell “basic sundries and convenience items,” according to the ordinance, and also will house a small office and restrooms.

An event space will accommodate 200 to 300 people with indoor and outdoor seating. The event center will be used for corporate and personal events like weddings, seminars, family reunions, etc.

Oldham said he hopes the first phase of the project will be finished by December 2019 with ground being broken before the end of this year. The first phase is set to include eight rental units, a road and walking trail system, a campground area, a 4-acre lake, the campstore, well and septic and installation of native landscaping and prairie plantings for open space.

“Phase 1 will essentially consist of all the infrastructure: office building, roads, an initial set of eight primary structures/rental units and additional secondary units,” Oldham said. “From now until spring is going to be a whirlwind, and we’re going to try to get as much done as we possibly can to hopefully be able to open some doors midseason.”

During the next 10 years, the development plan includes linking the 4-acre lake and a 16-acre lake to form a 20-acre lake; expanding the gravel road system; adding eight to 25 rental cabins; construction of the event space; and adding a food and beverage service at the campstore.

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