In an effort to address the statistically alarming lack of dedicated public park space in Hamilton County, steps were successfully taken recently by the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department (HCPR) to acquire an ecologically significant parcel of property.
With unanimous approval provided by the department’s park board, and supported by the Hamilton County Council and Commissioners, 107 acres of land in Hamilton County, located near the intersection of 216th Street and Hinkle Road, were purchased, with the intent of adding the acreage to the county’s park system. The acquired property, referred to as HC Farms, brings the total amount of land owned and maintained by the county park department to slightly more than 1,800 acres – which remains less than 23% of the space needed for parks in the county, as recommended by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
According to HCPR Superintendent of Natural Resources and Education, Amanda Smith, the HC Farms property represents the most significant opportunity that the park department has encountered in twenty years. “Aside from the large list of plant and animal species currently found in the area, this property’s environmental characteristics would be most enjoyed by passive recreation users who would appreciate the plant and animal diversity, scenic views, and relatively rugged terrain.”
As surrounding properties in both Noblesville and Westfield are being developed for commercial and residential use at such a rapid pace, county officials and park leadership felt it was imperative to secure the property, knowing it holds the potential to provide Hamilton County citizens and visitors with a park experience unlike any other available within the county park department. Hamilton County Parks and Recreation is currently seeking funds available through Indiana Department of Natural Resources programs – the In Lieu Fee and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to acquire land previously impacted by development and agricultural activity, which has the potential to be restored and preserved as critical wildlife and aquatic habitat.
Parks Director, Chris Stice, commented on the importance of the land acquisition - “Hamilton County Parks, with invaluable support provided by Indiana DNR, feels blessed to be able to procure this ecological asset on behalf of our county and community. The department’s intent is to restore the land’s wetlands and stream corridor and expand the existing prairie. Appropriate reforestation measures will also be taken. We are looking to strategically develop and maintain trails on the property, as well.” The director added “By restoring the quality of the land’s habitat, we are remaining true to our departmental mission of providing high quality passive parks and serving as responsible stewards of the land entrusted to us.”
No specific timeline has been established for the park department’s planned efforts at the HC Farms property, as studies and exploration of the land and its potential are currently being conducted. Public input will continually be sought during the master planning process.
To learn more about this property acquisition or Hamilton County Parks, the public is invited to visit MyHamiltonCountyParks.com, follow the park department on Facebook or call 317-770-4400.