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Greenwood officials envision recreational lake near new exit

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A new idea for the area near a new Greenwood interstate exit would bring a recreational lake to the city, where people could fish and swim, and that developers of high-end homes and businesses could promote as a scenic view.

The city is considering adding a 50- to 100-acre lake to development plans for the area surrounding a new Interstate 65 interchange at Worthsville Road, community development services director Mark Richards said.

The lake they envision would be comparable in size to the county fairgrounds or Greenwood’s Freedom Park, which are both about 75 acres.

The lake would be both a rainwater collection pond to help with drainage of new development in the area and a recreation destination for fishing, swimming and kayaking. The lake would be near Kelsay Farms, a dairy and crop farm that offers a corn maze, tours and public events. The hope is that the area could draw tourists with the existing farm, water recreation, a permanent farmers market and restaurants that serve organic and locally grown food, officials said.


A lake also could add a scenic view for high-end, lakeside homes and businesses, which officials have been hopeful would come to the area around the new interstate exit.

Adding one large lake would leave more room for development in the area than if multiple smaller retention ponds were built to serve new homes, office buildings and strip malls and could be built in a floodplain, which may not otherwise be able to be developed, city council and redevelopment commission member Mike Campbell said.

“This is all just talk. This is the vision we hope for. Something that’s upscale,” Campbell said. “The idea for out there is something that’s new for Greenwood.”

City officials recently started discussing the idea, which would likely take three to four years to be designed, get local, state and federal approvals and then be built, Richard said.

He estimates the lake could cost $5 million to $10 million, which the city could pay for with money collected in tax-

increment financing, or TIF, districts, fees from the city’s stormwater utility, money from the city’s general fund, or a combination of all three, he said. The city could charge developers who build in the area for using the lake as a rainwater collection facility, but funding for the project has not been discussed, he said.

The large up-front investment needed from the city would be the biggest drawback to the lake, but Greenwood could recover its investment through new houses and businesses built in the area, which would add new taxpayers to the city, Richards said.

Before any work could start, the city would have to decide how to fund the lake and then approve plans for it, Richards said.

The lake likely would be elongated, instead or a circle or oval, and would border Worthsville Road, northeast of the intersection with Collins Road, he said. The idea being discussed is to build the lake where there is already a stream.

The lake could serve as a rainwater collection site that prevents a need for dozens of smaller ponds to be built, Richards said.

Small retention ponds are not multipurpose and take up land that could be developed. Building a larger lake would allow for more land to be developed with homes and businesses and more taxpayers to be added to Greenwood, Richards said.

The full vision of expensive lakeside homes, high-end office space and tourist attractions could take 30 years to complete, Campbell said.

City officials want to see high-end office space built and executive-level jobs added near the interchange. Lakeside homes could appeal to people drawn to the area to work those executive jobs, Campbell said.

Building the lake would take less time. If Greenwood annexes the land as planned and chooses to fund the lake project, the city would launch an approximately three- or four-year process leading up to construction, Richards said.

Greenwood would hire a consultant to determine how large of an area the lake could collect rainwater from and how big the lake would need to be, he said.

Then, the city would have to buy land and get approval for the lake from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Johnson County Drainage Board. The Army Corps of Engineers and IDEM would study the project’s possible impact on wetlands and streams.

The lake would not be large enough for motorboating, officials said.

The recreational and regional rainwater collection lake is not currently part of official city plans and is in the initial discussion stage as a possible regional facility the city could benefit from, Richards said.

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