By Sadie Hunter
Next week, after nearly five years of planning and development, the City of Noblesville and Noblesville Parks Dept. will open Federal Hill Commons.
The urban park will hold its grand opening celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. April 29 on its six acres, bounded by Nixon and Logan streets and Ind. 32 and Ind. 19.
“We’re excited. We’re ready to get it up and running and have some fun down here, because there’s going to be some cool things going on,” Parks Director Brandon Bennett said.
A standard day at the park won’t put the park at capacity, but Bennett said the city plans for the park to handle 2,000 to 3,000 people for its larger events.
“Restrooms and parking are not going to be able to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people, but it is an urban park, and it was designed that way. That means it’s walkable,” Bennett said. “We’ve worked with our neighbors to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as parking goes, including Riverview (Health) and Kroger. We have 1,200 spaces within a five-minute walk.
“This space was not only created as a park, but as an economic development incubator. I like to think of this as the heartbeat of this side of town, of this side of the river, that’s going to pump blood out to all the other areas, and we’re already seeing it happen with the development of BlueSky (Technology Partners). You’re starting to see land for sale in this area, and that’s because it’s going to be ripe for development.”
THE PARK’S FEATURES
“The anchor of the park is the stage, the amphitheater, the First Merchants Pavilion, as it will be known, and the lawn,” Bennett said.
Bennett said this part of the facility is designed to accommodate a full symphony, has its own sound and lights system and will be available for rent to third-party clients after the April 29 opening.
Guests can expect to see concerts and theatrical performances, and visitors will find permanently installed musical instruments at the back of the stage, donated by the Noblesville Parks Foundation.
The Green Room
The site of the former First Merchants Bank at 107 S. Logan St., the Green Room is the park’s rental and indoor event facility. It will be used for corporate events, general rentals for events like family reunions, birthday parties and wedding and baby showers.
“The room will be available for rental anytime after April 29, which is good because we’ve had to turn a lot of people away at Forest Park without spaces there because we’re booked up. I’d also like to see some community groups come in and use this space, like the rotary clubs or the Lions, any service organizations.”
“The playground has our first rubber tile safety surface within our parks system,” Bennett said. “It’s also designed to be fairly transparent, so there’s really no place (kids) can hide. We wanted (guests) to be able to look across and see their child playing. The playground is also a nice amenity for the farmers market.”
“The market plaza is a really big amenity where the farmers market will be,” Bennett said. “The whole market is not going to fit in there, and that’s a great problem to have, but there’s plenty of space for it to overflow into the rest of the park. But overall, it’s going to be really nice having a shelter there, having permanent restrooms there, having a playground there. It’s something (Noblesville Main Street) never had in the past, and it’s going to add a lot.”
In effort to put as much history into the park as possible, Bennett said during construction the city has been able to reuse elements of some of Noblesville’s former landmarks
“For instance, there are several pieces, I think 10, of limestone out on the elliptical on the north end of the park. That was from the old mill when it was torn down. We harvested that and brought it over here,” Bennett said. “So, we’re trying to kind of preserve a little bit of that history and heritage. Then, under the parking lot and under the market plaza are actually parts of the former Conner Elementary. When they demolished that building, they pulverized a lot of that brick and material, and we were able to reuse it. We’ll implement some signage that talks a little bit about that, too.”
“The other aspect of the park, the one we’re starting to work on now, is bringing the visual arts to this park,” Bennett said. “Certainly, we’ve got the performance art through the concerts and theater events.”
Hamilton County’s Bison-tennial Bison – an art project commissioned by the Indiana Association of United Ways for 2016’s bicentennial celebration – will be housed at Federal Hill.
“We’ve got another piece that has been done by a local artist that will come out here, and then we’re going to commission some other artwork as we get funding available for that,” Bennett said.
Eventually, the park’s story wall, something that has been discussed since the design phase of Federal Hill Commons, will be completed, featuring Noblesville history and highlights.
“The question is how it gets funded. You know, can we look at grants?” Bennett said. “Can we work with the arts council, etc.”
ATTEND THE GRAND OPENING
Runs from 6 to 10 p.m. April 29. The event will feature a ribbon cutting, the Rugged Brothers Band from 6 to 7 p.m. and headliner the Wright Brothers from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Free attractions include inflatables, balloon artists, face painting, a trackless train and a photo booth. Food and beverages will sold in the market plaza. The evening will conclude with fireworks at 10 p.m.
A TIMELINE OF FEDERAL HILL COMMONS
- Aug. 19, 2013 – Noblesville Plan Commission approves adding a “western gateway park” to the Noblesville Parks Master Plan.
- March 12, 2014 – City hosts public meeting to unveil the design and master plan of the park.
- June 2014 – City holds contest for naming of the park.
- July 31, 2014 – City announces that its “western gateway park” will be named Federal Hill Commons.
- Nov. 25, 2014 – Noblesville Common Council approves $6 million in funding for Federal Hill Commons.
- Sept. 10, 2015 – City officials break ground on the park.
- April 29, 2017 – Federal Hill Commons will open.
- May 5 – Salsa for Salsa, a Cinco de Mayo celebration: Running from 6 to 10 p.m., this free event will feature salsa dancers and dance lessons along with food vendors, a margarita garden and taste-testing of various salsas. Guests can buy bags of tortilla chips for $2 to sample salsas.
- May 6 – Noblesville Main Street Farmers Market: Running from 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday through Oct. 14, the Noblesville Farmers Market will open for its inaugural market on this day.
- June 10 – From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests of Federal Hill Commons can enjoy a foam party.
- July 9 to Aug. 27 – Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission Band Concerts Series kicks off, occurring at 6:30 p.m. every Sunday
- July 26 – USFA National Tournament Parade of Teams: Begins at 6:30 p.m.
- July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 – Shakespeare in the Park. All events begin at 8:30 p.m. and are hosted by the Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission.
- August 19 – Rotary BBQ Cook-off: Runs from 4 to 9 p.m.
- September 15 – Movies in the Park: “Sing” begins at dusk.
- Oct. 14 – Chili cook-off and trike race: Runs from 8 a.m. to noon.
- Oct. 28 – Adult costume/Halloween party: For ages 21 and older only, this event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m.