Zionsville Town council approves $5.5M bond for Carpenter Nature Preserve


The Zionsville Town Council voted 6-1 during its May 1 meeting to approve a bond not to exceed $5.5 million for Carpenter Nature Preserve.

The bond will be used for the acquisition and development of the nature preserve, which is expected to open by 2026.

“I appreciate the foresight of the town council to approve the purchase of the Carpenter Nature Preserve,” John Stehr, president of the Zionsville Board of Parks and Recreation and a Republican candidate for mayor said. “I think the nature preserve will be an important asset for Zionsville for decades to come.”

Town Council President Jason Plunkett cast the only opposing vote.

“I appreciate the Carpenter’s generosity. This nature preserve will be amazing,” he said. “As the fiscal body for the town, it’s important to understand how a project like this should and could be funded. If we have cash on hand, perhaps it makes sense to use that and preserve our bonding capacity for the future of this project and others. That analysis and discussion was not presented to the council. This project has allowed us to shed light on other

priorities for folks in District 2, and I look forward to addressing those in the coming months.”

During the meeting, Plunkett inquired why — during the bond process for the acquisition of the nature preserve — a presentation to the town council and residents about the park’s cash on hand and whether it could go toward acquiring the preserve was never presented.

Zionsville Parks and Recreation Supt. Jarod Logsdon addressed the question of using cash on hand for the land acquisition versus using a $5.5 million bond.

“As we were forming the strategy of how we make this happen with what we have, we looked at all of those funds, and some of those do have limitations, like the impact fees, which are some of our largest funds,” Logsdon said. “We looked at the 2022 plan for impact fees, and we can fund up to 31 acres of acquisition in our parks system, but after that, that’s all the more impact fees that can be utilized.”

Logsdon said the department did explore all of those options and decided that the bond was the best tool for acquisition of the Carpenter Nature Preserve.

“We are beyond excited to begin this new chapter in Zionsville’s legacy as a town within a park,” Logsdon said. “We want to thank Jim and Nancy Carpenter, Mayor Emily Styron, the Zionsville Park Board, town council, and members of the community who supported this unique opportunity.”