A proposed ice rink complex in Greenwood is raising concerns with nearby residents about increased traffic, loss of park space, light and noise pollution and lower property values.
When Heather Garrett moved her family of four to Brighton Estates in September, one of the main draws was the nearby Freedom Park. She has two kids with another one on the way, and a quiet neighborhood with access to a large park was attractive to her.
Now, with the Greenwood Iceplex, a $20 million, 115,000-square-foot hockey and ice sports complex, proposed to begin construction this fall, she is concerned about its impact on her neighborhood, which is directly west of the park.
“No one anticipated having something of this magnitude to be placed in a community park,” she said.
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Nearby residents are also concerned about the city’s plan to extend Stop 18 Road, which is an entrance into Freedom Park, west into the Brighton Estates neighborhood. Extending the road would provide an east to west route connecting Averitt and Honey Creek roads.
But residents have raised concerns about the amount of traffic that would bring to their neighborhood and surrounding streets that just aren’t built for that many vehicles.
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said the road extension project is still years away, and will be done based on the growth of the Brighton Estates neighborhood, which will eventually need a second access point, not based on the proposed Iceplex.
But city council members said the city should reconsider its plans for Stop 18 Road, based on the proposed development and the new Greenwood Middle School, which will bring more traffic to the area.
Despite the concerns of some residents, Myers said the response he has seen to the Iceplex plans is mostly positive.
“I still see it as a huge success, and the overall response has been amazingly supportive,” he said.
Garrett moved to Brighton Estates knowing the Stop 18 Road expansion was coming, but didn’t expect its impact to be as large as it may end up becoming. The developer has estimated that the Iceplex facility, which will sit on six acres of land south of the Freedom Springs Aquatic Center, will eventually reach 800,000 visits a year.
“We understood coming to Brighton that that project would be completed, but we didn’t anticipate having a four-rink hockey Iceplex in our backyard and those visitors coming.”
Fellow Brighton Estates resident John Remetta said he wished the city had given residents a chance to provide input on this project prior to it being announced as basically a done deal.
The light and noise from the facility, and the impact that could have on nearby property values, is another concern, Garrett said.
The facility will be designed so lights face downward and aren’t disruptive, and a nearby hill should keep it out of sight of some of the homes, Myers said.
Another concern Garrett raised was whether it is appropriate to be giving away park land to a private developer. Residents value park land in Greenwood, she said. The city’s plan is to lease the land to Indy Fuel for $1 per month.
“I’m not against an Iceplex here in Greenwood,” Garrett said. “I just feel it needs to be self-funded. It needs to go through the normal free market where they purchase the land and build it themselves.”
“Community members would be happy to pay $1 a month to keep the green space.”
The loss of green space is concerning, said council member David Lekse, who represents residents in the Freedom Park area. Lekse suggested the facility could be built near the Worthsville Road and Interstate 65 interchange or on the east side of I-65.
“I think we ought to look at other locations that are available,” he said.
Leasing park land is appropriate in this case because it will be used for an athletic complex, Myers said.
“Park land is exactly a place where we want to encourage athletic sports,” Myers said.
The other key concern from residents is the impact the development will have on traffic, and a long-planned project to extend Stop 18 Road, which currently dead ends in Freedom Park.
Matt Briggs, who has lived in the Brighton Estates neighborhood for several years, has started a petition to ask that the city doesn’t extend Stop 18 Road in light of the Greenwood Iceplex plans.
“Stop 18 will connect through the park and link up through the neighborhood,” he said. “If they have the potential with 800,000 visitors annually, that will put a lot of through traffic through a residential neighborhood.”
Long-term plans call for Stop 18 Road to be extended west, around the bottom edge of the park and connect with the Brighton Estates neighborhood. The proposed Stop 18 Road expansion has been in the city’s plans for at least the past 15 years, but it isn’t going to happen any time soon, Myers said.
“We are not looking at doing that right now,” he said. “It is in future plans. The Iceplex will have no bearing on any decision whether that road goes through or not.”
The growth of the neighborhood, which will eventually need a second access point, will determine when that project comes in, Myers said.
When Freedom Park was built, the city laid the foundation for Stop 18 Road and made sure to route utilities away from the path it would take around the park, Greenwood Planning Director Bill Peeples said.
Council members Chuck Landon and Lekse both said the city needs to take another look at the Stop 18 Road plans, given that those plans were put in place before the facility was proposed.
Regardless of what is done with Stop 18 Road, city officials are in agreement that improvements will need to be made elsewhere to handle the additional traffic from the Iceplex, Freedom Springs and the new middle school.
The city will need to conduct another traffic study along Averitt Road, but since construction of the ice rink complex is still a couple years off, that study may not be done until 2019, Myers said.
In the next several years, Worthsville Road will be expanded to four lanes, and the city has considered putting in a roundabout at the intersection of Stop 18 and Averitt roads, city council member Mike Campbell said.
“We have plans to expand and improve roads in that area, this will mean we will need to speed some things up,” Campbell said.
Kathy Haab, who lives in the Featherstone neighborhood north of Freedom Park, already has trouble getting in out out of her neighborhood onto Averitt Road, she said. She is concerned about the additional traffic from new development for residents driving in that area north of Freedom Park.
“The roads are not designed to handle that inflow and outflow of traffic,” Haab said.
Traffic to the new middle school, planned to open in the fall, shouldn’t be too significant, Greenwood Community Schools Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.
Greenwood schools has already used the property as the central hub for its bus system for about 10 years, and in addition to the buses, the school gets about 100 to 150 cars per day coming to drop off and pick up students, he said.
Since the times the school is busy aren’t likely to conflict with the busiest times for Freedom Springs or the Greenwood Iceplex, he doesn’t think the school will cause traffic difficulties.
Here is a closer look at the Greenwood Iceplex:
What: Indy Fuel owners Jim and Sean Hallett have proposed building a $20 million, 115,000-square-foot complex, with four ice rinks
Where: Freedom Park in Greenwood. They would lease six acres of land from the city for $1 a month.
Status: The Halletts have filed a letter of intent with the city.
What’s next: They will be applying for a five-year tax break for the project.