Plans for Bargersville’s premier park moving forward after 5 years idling

For years, a sign has marked the future site of a 19-acre park planned at County Road 144 and Saddle Club Road in Bargersville.

Next year, the town’s long-held plans will be put in motion. 

The Town of Bargersville bought the land for the park in August 2015 for $124,195, according to property records. The town purchased the land for a park specifically, and chose the name Kephart after the family who owned the property previously. 

The wooded area and former farm field will soon become the rapidly growing town’s premier park, complete with nature trails, a playground, a community center and an amphitheater, according to the town’s master plan. 

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Town officials broke the park into affordable phases, and recently budgeted $418,000 for the first phase. 

This first phase will include two entrances to the park, both from County Road 144, a temporary gravel parking lot and its first walking trail, an asphalt trail around the perimeter of the park which will connect to an existing trail in the Lennar at Morningside subdivision, said Julie Young, town manager.

The initial phase is part of four smaller phases — totaling $2.6 million — that are hoped to be executed in the coming years, piece by piece, Young said.

The full build-out of the park will require outside funding and is expected to cost about $9 million, based on today’s costs, according to an estimate from Shrewsberry and Associates LLC, the Indianapolis engineering firm hired to design the park.

The Bargersville Parks Advisory Commission has been working on the plans for Kephart Park since the town bought the land for it, inching the plan along in hopes that, eventually, the town council would take action, said Roger Hitz, commission president.

“I’ve only been on the park commission for two years, but as a resident, I was getting tired of seeing the sign that said “future park” for five years,” Hitz said.

Plans for the park are finally moving forward. New council members have moved building the park up the town’s priority list, he said.

The park was first designed in 2016, with resident feedback in mind, Young said. It is envisioned as a key gathering place for the town, from concerts in the amphitheater to events at the community center, to peaceful parks on rustic, unpaved nature trails, she said.

Another goal is connectivity, Young said. With the park’s location near several subdivisions just outside Old Town Bargersville, the park can act as a connection point for trails to the neighborhoods and downtown, she said.

Plans have changed slightly since it was first designed. A police station planned at the site will no longer be there, Hitz said. Instead, the town is planning a new station at Morgantown and Whiteland roads, he said.

With uncertainty over tax dollars in the coming years due to the ongoing pandemic, Young is still not sure exactly how long it will take to build the park. But town officials will strive for continual progress, she said.

“We will be continuing to work through these phases as our budget allows us to. Like most entities, we will have to see what 2021 brings (for future phases),” Young said. 

Hitz cautiously estimated the park could be completed in five to 10 years. No matter how long it takes, any progress is good, he said. 

“I’d like to see it built out in the next five years, but financially speaking, that isn’t realistic. I think we are looking more at the 10-year span,” Hitz said. “In the next few years though, we definitely will see it built to a level where it can get some use.”

The council approved $60,000 in September for Shrewsberry to design the first phase with hopes to begin construction in the spring and have the trail ready for pedestrians by next fall.