Commentary by Don Seal
About a dozen years ago I got a call from City Attorney Mike Howard asking if I could meet him and the late City Councilman, Dale Snelling, at Ind. 38 and Cicero Creek. The city was considering the purchase the property for the extension of Hague Road from Lakeview Drive to Ind. 32. I knew about the proposed project but could not figure out why I was being asked to look at the proposed acquisition. At the meeting, Howard revealed that the acquisition as proposed would result excess property that could be used for a park.
As we walked along Cicero Creek, Howard said the owner used the property for unstructured outdoor family activities and that he wanted the portion outside of the road right of way used in a similar manner. After viewing this lovely property that included woodlands, grasslands and wetlands as well as Cicero Creek, the three of us all agreed that a nature park would be the appropriate use for this land.
The property was acquired and the Hague Road extension was constructed. Part of the excess property was used for mitigation required for the road construction and another part was used as wetland mitigation but still about 40 acres remained for park development.
About eight years ago the parks board retained Chuck Lehman to develop a land use concept for this ground. After walking the property several times and discussing the wishes of the previous owner, Lehman and his team proposed a theme he called the Hague Road Nature Haven. The concept included trails: a gravel trail around the perimeter and an internal trail that hugged the tree line, a calendar garden that would feature plants that willgrow or maintain vegetation in each month of the year, a session garden that demonstrated plants as they progress from grassland prairie to woodland and a playground that would feature natural “play equipment.” It was unfortunate that the final design was approved in 2009 at the height of the recession and was never funded.
When the Noblesville Parks Foundation was formed the Nature Haven was discussed as a possible project for funding. Many of the elements of the nature haven are affordable and could be realized independently. The Foundation Board would like to discuss this and other projects with the general public. As a way of getting known, Foundation Board Members will be in attendance at all park concerts this summer. We will be at the Parks Department tent handing out brochures that explain our purpose and donation forms. We hope to see you at Dillon Park on June 19 and 26 as well as Forest Park on July 10, 17, 24 and 31.
Don Seal is a board member of the Noblesville Parks Foundation and former director of the Noblesville Parks Dept. For more information on the parks foundation, visit www.cityofnoblesville.org/parks.