When Greenwood city officials look at a mostly vacant piece of land between neighborhoods on the southeast side of the city, they see a much needed place for kids to play, walkers and joggers to exercise and families to enjoy time outside.
Tucked between neighborhoods east of U.S. 31 and between Stop 18 and Worthsville roads, the nearly 37 acres of farmland meets a need city officials have been discussing for years: land for more parks.
The property is a prime spot for a new park, especially since that area near U.S. 31 has at least six neighborhoods adjacent to it. The city does not have a park near those neighborhoods. The land the city is considering buying, which could be used for playgrounds and trails, is one of few in the area where a new park could be developed, Greenwood City Council president Mike Campbell said.
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Now, Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department Director Rob Taggart is seeking approval from both the city council and the park board to start negotiations with the property owner to buy the land. What the property would cost, a timeline for the purchase and when improvements could be made to the property aren’t known, he said.
“We think it would make a great community park,” Taggart said.
The parks department always is looking for ways to add more greenspace, and the possibility of getting land already inside a residential neighborhood presents a rare opportunity, he said. Finding available land for park space that is close to neighborhoods that need it is difficult, Taggart said.
Greenwood is just one of Johnson County’s growing communities looking to add more space where residents can walk and play.
In 2015, a study of Greenwood’s amenities identified park space, neighborhood playgrounds and trails as amenities that should be top priorities for the park department. Greenwood has 14 parks and about 290 acres of park space now, but should have more than 500 acres given its population of more than 50,000 residents, the study said. The study listed softball diamonds, soccer fields, playgrounds, trails and open park space as areas the city should focus on.
The city uses the study as a tool in determining what amenities are needed, but the parks department always is looking to add more options for recreation, Taggart said.
Bargersville also is looking to expand its park system, with the town approving a new fee that developers would pay to bring in money to develop new parks and trails. And new parks have long been identified as an issue to Johnson County officials, especially in the unincorporated Center Grove area.
Greenwood’s largest park, the 72-acre Freedom Park on Averitt Road, serves the southwest side of the city and was added in 2008. Grassy Park, 10 acres of land on the north side of Worthsville Road east of U.S. 31., was the city’s most recent addition. That land is planned to be used for trails.
The property Greenwood is now considering would serve the southeast side of the city, which doesn’t have any developed parks.
If Greenwood does purchase the property, it will become one of the largest parks in the city, Taggart said. Greenwood’s recreation impact fee, which brings in more than $300,000 a year, would likely be used to purchase the 37-acre property in between Stop 18 and Worthsville roads, Taggart said.
Greenwood is looking to add parks wherever it can, he said. Another property the city is pursuing is land southeast of Westside Park along Main Street.