This is the fourth entry in a Current in Fishers series on the city’s Fishers 2040 comprehensive plan, this week covering the chapter of the plan focusing on parks and open space.
By Sam Elliott
Fishers’ parks system already receives one level of planning for the near future thanks to the parks and recreation department’s facilities plan, but now the city is looking ahead more than two decades with its Fishers 2040 comprehensive plan — and the top priority for its parks is to be able to maintain the quality they’ve already achieved.
“In our community survey, 49 percent rated our parks system as excellent and 47 percents rated it as good,” Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath said. “So my takeaway was we have really excellent parks and for us moving forward our goal is to sustain that for the long term.”
In order to do that, the Fishers 2040 parks and open space task force identified key items vital for the longevity of the parks system, including additional land, more connectivity between recreation destinations and parks designed with more than one purpose in mind.
“Looking at the expected population growth, we’re definitely going to need more park land, task force co-chair and city councilor Cecilia Coble said. “We surveyed residents to see if they were utilizing our parks and what are some of the amenities they’d like to see. We took that and determined that in the future what people want are both active and passive parks and they want to have the ability to have flexibility in use as our community needs change.”
The parks and open space task force was co-chaired by Krieg DeVault partner Rodney Retzner and also included Conner Prairie’s Vice President of Exhibits, Programs and Facilities Cathy Ferree, Meyer Najem President Tim Russell, Britton Falls HOA representative John Amos, Boomerang Development owner Corby Thompson, Propeller Marketing owner Jocelyn Vare and Hamilton Southeastern High School senior Natalie Teyema.
In order to maintain the city’s desired ratio of 6.75 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents through 2040, Fishers may need to acquire more than 300 additional acres of land.
And in an effort to keep its parkland and open spaces more interconnected, the plan proposes additional bicycle and pedestrian paths into the city’s network while requiring neighborhoods to link their perimeter paths into one another and to nearby resources.
Continuing to develop parks with more than one use and year-round possibilities was another of McGrath’s focus points, and Coble added that mobile apps and wifi hotspots could help residents navigate Fishers’ park system better into the future.
A draft of the full Fishers 2040 comprehensive plan is available at Fishers2040.com.