Making a play for new parks

A town that has added acres and residents in the past five years now wants to add parks.

Bargersville grew by nearly 2,500 people in less than four years, a growth of 37 percent, mostly due to annexing land.

The previous part of town is home to three parks, but the new part of Bargersville has no parks.

Town leaders want to find land for a park in the northwest part of Bargersville. So far, finding the land has been the challenge.

Across the county, communities are looking to improve their parks, update the playground equipment and add trails. Johnson County Park in the southern part of the county will get new playground equipment this year, and Franklin plans to build more trails.

A new park is something that Bargersville residents have asked for, but two potential locations for parks fell through, Bargersville town manager Kevin McGinnis said. One park would have been placed near Whiteland Road and County Road 750W, but the land owner wanted to place restrictions on how the land could be used.

The land owner asked for a nature reserve area, instead of a place for playground equipment to be installed. Since the park is meant to be used by families with young children, the town decided not to take the property, McGinnis said.

Another possible park property was not usable because the land has a high potential for flooding.

“We think we have a shortage of park opportunities,” McGinnis said.

During the past 10 years, the town has ballooned from 2,500 residents to 6,500, McGinnis said.

The town needs more amenities such as walking paths and playground equipment, but it is not a pressing concern to complete within the next year, McGinnis said. The parks department and a parks advisory board are always looking for potential space to expand existing parks or build new ones, he said.

The county’s parks are in rehabilitation mode, Johnson County Parks Department superintendent Megan Bowman said. Johnson County Park, Hoosier Horse Park and Independence Park are all available for use but need to be upgraded in various ways. New playground equipment will be installed at Johnson County Park this year after older wooden equipment was removed in 2013, Bowman said.

The playground upgrades are the most requested by park users, Bowman said. The parks department also wants to focus on adding more activities and programs for residents, such as the popular walking group that meets in the parks on Monday mornings. Additional programming such as Scouting classes, family activities and programs for schools is expected this year.

Franklin plans to build new trails this year to make the city more of a walking community, said Rocky Stultz, the assistant superintendent of the city’s parks department. Since upgrades were made to most of the city’s 12 parks after the 2008 flood, trails are the biggest focus, he said.

Asphalt trails will be installed from Eastview Drive to U.S. 31, and along King Street, from Interstate 65 and moving west as part of the gateway project, Stultz said.