With a growing population, the town of Bargersville wants to be able to offer more places for residents to play and exercise, and the hope is that a new fee will help pay for those projects.
The Bargersville Town Council approved charging developers a $748 fee for every house they construct, money that the town can spend on developing more parks and trails. Two other Johnson County communities — Greenwood and Franklin — also have a recreation impact fee. Greenwood charges developers $1,206 per home, and Franklin charges $376, with the money going to parks and trails projects.
Bargerville’s fees are expected to bring in $1.3 million in 10 years, planning director Julie Young said. The new fee was approved last week, but developers won’t begin paying it until January, she said.
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The goal is to spend the money on more parks and trails for the town. A recent study showed Bargersville is lacking those amenities for its current and projected population, she said.
Other communities have also turned to a park impact fee in the past to help pay for parks and trails projects.
Greenwood has received about $300,000 a year the past several years through recreation impact fees; Franklin, with its much lower fees, gets about $25,000. Franklin uses the money collected from its fee as a way to save up for a more expensive project every several years. The most recent was a shelter house constructed in Blue Heron Park last summer, Franklin Parks and Recreation Department Director Chip Orner said.
Where Bargersville could locate any new parks and trails hasn’t been finalized, but a study is underway to determine that information, which will include gathering public feedback on what the priorities should be, Young said.
One possibility for a new trail is to connect downtown Bargersville with Keplar Park, a currently undeveloped 19-acre piece of land near County Road 144, Bargersville Town Council president Kenneth Zumstein said.
The trail would cut through the Morningside neighborhood, whose developers have already agreed to construct a trail through that property, he said.
At Keplar Park, the town could add trails, a shelter, restrooms and parking facilities, Zumstein said.
Adding parks and trails is necessary to continue to attract residents and developers to the town, he said.
“The developers we had discussions with were in support of this,” Young said. “They see it as a benefit for future home buyers and sellers.”
Before approving the new fee, state law required Bargersville to complete a recreation zone improvement plan study, which examined what park and recreation space the city already has, how much its population will increase and what additional amenities will be needed for those new residents, Young said.
The study identified parks and trails as the two biggest needs for the city. The town is projected to need about 6 miles of trails and nearly 50 acres of park space by 2026 with the amount of residents it will add in the next decade. Bargersville currently has 26 acres of park land as well as 2.5 miles of trails. The town has three small parks, 19 acres of undeveloped park land and trails going through Windisch Park.
Bargersville has been the fastest growing community in Johnson County the past several years. The town grew by 5 percent from 2015 to 2016, adding 400 residents. From 2010 to 2016, the town has seen its population grow by more than 3,000 residents, which includes annexations done in recent years.
That growth is expected to continue, according to the study, which estimates another 1,800 homes will be built in the next decade. Plans are already underway for several new neighborhoods. M/I Homes has plans to build 300 homes along County Road 144, west of State Road 135, in what will be called the Saddle Club neighborhoods. Other new neighborhoods include Aberdeen with 220 lots and Morningside with nearly 400 lots.
Tying the funding to the development of new homes allows the town to do projects it otherwise wouldn’t have money for, Young said.
The Bargersville Parks and Recreation Department has had an average revenue of about $207,000 per year since 2014. The majority of the budget has been spent on maintenance and upkeep of the city’s current parks, rather than expanding its system, Zumstein said.
“It is a great opportunity to provide those quality of life amenities that residents ask for,” Young said.
Home developers have to pay a fee in some Johnson County communities that is used to fund park and recreation projects to meet the needs of the incoming residents. Here’s how much they charge per house: