What once stood as a vacant lot right off of University of Indianapolis property has now grown into a park that both students and neighbor residents will be able to enjoy.
The development of the University Heights Community Park began in 2011 when the University Heights Neighborhood Association applied for a Keep Indianapolis Beautiful/Indianapolis Power and Light Green Space Grant. Vacant for several years, the lot was outside of the university’s footprint of where they planned on developing buildings. Associate Vice President of Community Relations and Special Assistant to the President, David Wantz, asked UHNA if they would like to make a park on the land, according to Associate Professor of Sociology Jim Pennell.
Pennell said the neighborhood had completed three KIB tree plantings through the neighborhood prior to applying for the Green Space Grant, so he was confident that the first request in 2011 would be accepted.
“We went for it, and we were turned down. So in 2012, I met with some of the KIB directors and they gave feedback on our proposal, and we sent in a revised proposal for 2013. We got the grant…and in the fall of 2014 we planted a thousand plants with students.”
Although the park was not created for recreational purposes, Pennell said there will be elements added for the park’s visitors’ enjoyment.
“We have some benches we’ll be putting in Halloween weekend, and we’re putting in what we call a little library. The little library is a box with some books, so if people want to go sit and read they can just take out the book and they can take it home if they want and bring another in return back,” Pennell said.
Junior supply chain management major Alex Bobos lives a few houses down from the park and said he enjoys the addition to the neighborhood.
“I think the park adds a lot of character to the neighborhood. Once it is finished, it will look really nice and a lot better than the empty lot it previously was,” Bobos said.
The university received a community development block grant, which helped in purchasing the shelter and creating the concrete paths. The neighborhood chose the shelter design, something Pennell said is significant and special to the neighborhood’s history.
“The one [design] we picked is just beautiful. It was picked also because of the style of the arches, which are very important to a key element of the neighborhood, which is the church,” Pennell said.
Students will have the opportunity to use the park and Pennell said the university and UHNA are in the planning stage of how they can best arrange time for everyone to get their best use of the park. As a student, Bobos said that he plans on visiting the park for multiple purposes.
UHNA is celebrating by having a grand opening of the park in the spring of 2016. KIB will be in attendance and students are invited as well.