Neighborhood groups pushing for east side park expansion

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The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has been working with neighborhood groups on a plan to expand German Church and 30th Park to include 160 acres. They believe it will act as an economic stimulus in the area as well as provide a safe and healthy place for families to go. The funding may not be available, though.

The problem is the park plan is part of a massive neighborhood reinvestment proposal that has proven controversial among city officials.

“We put it off, in my opinion, for 30, 40 years. The time has come,” said Maria Rusomaroff, a Community Alliance of the Far Eastside Board Member.

The park expansion would include walking trails and other improvements. The land includes several natural habitats that are nearly impossible to get to currently.

“When you see that tree line to the north there, 120 acres of additional park land is crying out to be further developed,” said Donald Colvin, Deputy Director of Indy Parks.

If the city invested about $96,000 in what will be called the Grassy Creek Regional Park, Department of Public Works Spokesman Scott Manning said $480,000 total would become available because of the promise of matching federal funds. The smaller park that will be built upon is called German Church and 30th Park.

An Indianapolis City-County Council Committee did not support the plan in a recent meeting because the park project is part of a bigger proposal, specifically a $350 million, multi-year neighborhood investment plan. The council would have to agree to borrow $135 million first to get the plan off the ground.

“It’s a microcosm of the plan as a whole. If we don’t move forward, it really is a missed opportunity,” said Manning.

“Being able to add that piece, will really be a boom for economic development and for neighborhood connectivity.”

The park plan, which would include multiple future investments, would also include a disc golf course, a skate park and a community center. The belief is that city investments would help propel nonprofit and private investments in the park. They are responsible for improvements made in recent years that include more playground equipment, a splash park and basketball court.

“It’s the next generation that is really important,” said Rusomaroff. “The more green space you have, the better off you’re going to be economically.”

A council committee can reintroduce the neighborhood reinvestment plan or it can be introduced in front of the full council.

The Department of Public Works had hoped to start work on the park in 2014. If the funding does not become available, they will have to look to alternative sources that have not been identified yet.

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