Carmel could soon gain a 63-acre park on its northeast side.
Falcon Nest, which owns the land and adjacent Legacy development, is offering to donate the site near the southwest corner of 146th Street and River Road to Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation. The parks board discussed the donation at its January meeting and will likely vote on whether to accept the land at its February meeting.
Most of the property consists primarily of an open meadow with approximately 4 acres of woods along its western boundary. All but a small section of the site lies within a floodplain, meaning it can’t be used for substantial buildings.
CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said amenities that could be considered for the site include trails, shelters and a dog park.
“I really see this almost as a nature preserve with a trail network in there,” Klitzing said at the Jan. 12 meeting. “There might be potential for a dog park there, given the number of multi-family housing around there.”
Paul Rioux, owner and president of development managing firm Platinum Properties, said not much is expected to happen with the land, worth an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million, if Falcon Nest continues to own it.
“It really takes it from a passive piece of property that would just go back to nature and let the parks department create an asset out of it,” Rioux said. “The developer had no plans to make it a significant asset.”
Initially, the Carmel Redevelopment Commission made a deal with the developer that would allow the developer to use tax increment financing to make improvements to the park area, but later the city’s engineering department took over the project. The city has approximately $500,000 in local income tax funds — which will be repaid through TIF dollars — available for upgrades in the park, according to CRC Director Henry Mestetsky. Once the amenities are in place, CCPR expects maintenance costs to be minimal.
Mestetsky said it’s not unusual for the CRC partner with other departments and organizations to complete projects.
“While the CRC is not involved in the details of this project any longer, the commission and the city engineering (department) work together with the parks department all the time,” Mestetsky said. “Often, the CRC and/or engineering builds infrastructure and hands it over to parks to manage long term, just like the Monon Boulevard in Midtown or the new public bathrooms adjacent to the Hotel Carmichael.”
Klitzing said the new park and its trails would tie nicely into the nearby proposed White River Greenway trail system.
City Councilor Sue Finkam, whose district includes the site of the proposed park, said her constituents are eager to see more park land. She said plans for the area have long included trails and open space.
“It was always meant to be a serenity park, a very naturalized area with prairie grass remaining, aggregate paths going through it and birdwatching stations,” she said. “(The developers) had really done a nice job laying that out.”
If CCPR acquires the land it will create a master plan to guide development of the park. CCPR does not have a timeline for when development of the park could occur.