On Feb. 8, the Zionsville Parks and Recreation Dept. was given the first of two required approvals from the parks board for a $5.5 million bond for the Carpenter Nature Preserve.
The issue will now go before the Zionsville Town Council in March for final approval. The preliminary plan is for the Carpenter Nature Preserve to open in late 2025 or early 2026.
“We are bonding this project in order to have the money up front to purchase the land. After acquisition, that’s when the reimbursements come,” said Jarod Logsdon, superintendent of the Zionsville Parks and Recreation Dept.
Acquisition of the nature preserve was beyond the parks department’s available funding reserves. The park board announced in January its intent to request a bond from the town and the parks board for $5.5 million to buy and develop the Carpenter Nature Preserve. Of the $5.5 million bond, $4.5 million would fund the acquisition, and the remaining funds would be used for Phase 1 of development.
“Last month’s park board meeting in January was an update on additional findings and laying out why this is the right time to pursue this bond at this point,” Logsdon said.
The park board passed a declaratory resolution starting the process, which included inviting public opinion and having a public hearing.
In 2021, the Zionsville Board of Parks and Recreation and the Zionsville Parks and Recreation Dept. partnered with Jim and Nancy Carpenter, local conservationists and owners of the Carpenter Nature Preserve, to transform the 215-acre, former Wolf Run Golf Course into Zionsville’s largest nature preserve.
The parks department began identifying funding opportunities to purchase the land to create the preserve.
The Carpenters agreed to sell the property to the town for $1.5 million below its appraised value. In 2022, the parks department obtained an updated appraisal, listing the Preserve at $6,020,000.00.
Two grant opportunities were identified in January to help the project move forward, one for $3 million from the Next Level Conservation Trust and another for $500,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The $3 million grant would be used for the town to own the land, and the $500,00 grant is to develop the land.
The parks department is now a recipient of those grants, but both come with stipulations before being signed by the parks board. Both grants require acquisitions of the property and to be developed into a public space within three years.
“It’s such an opportunity to have these grants awarded,” Logsdon said. “The goal was always to secure the land and identify opportunities for development down the road. Now, with these grant funds we will be able to accomplish our first goal of acquisition and continue work toward creating this public space for the community to enjoy.”