One of Carmel’s lesser-known parks could be getting some upgrades.
Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation is in the early stages of creating a master plan for Cherry Tree Park, which is on 12 acres west of Hazel Dell Parkway north of 131st Street. Currently, it has green space and mature trees but no other amenities, including on-site parking.
CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said Davis Homes donated the park land in 1999 as part of the development of the Emerald Crest and Delaware Commons subdivisions. He said it has remained undeveloped in part because of its close proximity to Lawrence W. Inlow Park.
CCPR and Carmel City Councilor Sue Finkam, who represents the district that contains the park, have reached out to residents who live on the northeast side of Carmel to gather feedback on what they’d like to see there. Finkam said responses have ranged from keeping the park as it is to developing a dog park or installing pickleball courts.
“I’m fully in support of the parks department investing in this property,” Finkam said. “I feel it should be more of a passive use rather than a dog park or pickleball, but I don’t make the decision on that. That’s why we ask the residents.”
Klitzing said CCPR could decide to maintain the park as a natural area with open space if that’s what the community would like to see.
“Even our natural areas have master plans or natural resource management plans to identify proactive strategies for native area restoration, invasive species removal, and/or maintaining healthy trees and woodlands,” Klitzing said. “Master plans help establish our budget priorities for investing in and maintaining our parks, regardless of how they are developed or purposefully left undeveloped.”
CCPR will use the feedback from residents to select a consultant to develop a master plan and budget for the park. Klitzing said a consultant likely won’t be selected before mid-2021 and that development of the master plan is expected to take six to 12 months. Additional opportunities for public comment will be available as the master plan is developed and adopted.
“Once the master plan is adopted by the park board, it will be used to guide all future park development,” Klitzing said. “The master plan is also critical to help position Cherry Tree Park for grants, which will likely be necessary to help fund the development, since there is currently no dedicated funding for this park. The anticipated development costs and our success in securing grants or other funding will ultimately determine how quickly this park can be developed.”
Finkam said several years ago, CCPR officials had considered selling the park to a residential developer, but Finkam said she was strongly against the idea.
“It’s one thing if people buy a house next to an empty lot that can be developed into anything someday,” she said. “It’s another if they buy a house on a park. Their expectation is it’s always going to remain a park.”
Northeast district residents can submit feedback on the proposed park by emailing Finkam at [email protected].