Submitted by: Kevin Osburn, Old Northside Neighbor
Those of you that have recently ridden or strolled along the Monon detour path on the north side of the North Split may have noticed some new construction activity in the area. While the North Split construction continues to impact our downtown neighborhoods, a much smaller hub of activity has recently appeared at the southwest corner of O’Bannon Park, where the long-awaited park improvements are finally under construction! The journey to realizing the full vision for O’Bannon Park has been long and full of many twists and turns but could not have happened without the support and steadfast commitment of many neighborhoods, individuals, companies, and organizations.
In 2014, a master plan was prepared by Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) aimed at enhancing the recreational opportunities available within the park in order for it to more effectively serve the recreation needs of the surrounding near downtown neighborhoods and the recreation providers that use the park. The Parks Alliance of Indianapolis (formerly the Indianapolis Parks Foundation) led an effort to provide much-needed upgrades to the soccer fields (utilized by Tab Recreation, Herron High School, the Oaks Academy, and many other groups) and construct the comfort station; this work included utility upgrades to prepare the site for restrooms and a future splash pad. In 2015, the playground and splash pad equipment, as well as a picnic shelter, were purchased and placed in storage by the Parks Department pending future funding for construction.
In 2017, estimates for the installation of the playground, spray pad, and picnic shelter were received and discussions took place between The Parks Alliance, the Parks Department, and the surrounding neighborhoods regarding how to raise the funding needed to complete the park. A fundraising effort spearheaded by The Parks Alliance and Patronicity (a program of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority – IHCDA) raised over $60,000 for the project from neighbors, businesses, and foundations. These funds helped leverage a commitment of funding from the City and Indy Parks to prioritize the construction of the improvements. In 2019, bids were received for the project; unfortunately, the bids were much higher than estimates received prior to fundraising. Indy Parks and The Parks Alliance then went back to work find more funding.
In 2020, the Indy Parks applied for and received a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (a program of the National Park Service administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources) to complete the project. In 2021, REA was asked to update the construction documents and permits for the project and assist Indy Parks with the bidding process. In November 2021, Trisler Construction submitted a successful bid of $861,500 for the project. The construction now underway is expected to be completed by August 12, 2022.
After an eight-year journey, children and families from our near downtown neighborhoods will be able to enjoy a premier play experience at O’Bannon Park. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project; without your efforts and commitment, it would not have been possible. We look forward to seeing you all later this summer for the ribbon-cutting!
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