GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department is poised to purchase about 15 acres of land adjoining Beckenholdt Park in an effort to preserve the land in its natural state.
The department has applied for a Bicentennial Nature Trust grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to secure funding to purchase about 3.5 acres of wetlands and 11.4 acres of woods near the park on the city’s west side.
The application seeks about $223,000 of grant money.
The Bicentennial Nature Trust was established to preserve and protect Indiana conservation and recreation areas by matching dollars or land. Property that is purchased through the program becomes part of the “public trust” to ensure it is protected and preserved for future Hoosier to use and enjoy, the DNR website states.
Parks department director Ellen Kuker said the parks department has been working for at least a year to secure funding to purchase the land through owners Mark Dismore, a former IndyCar driver, and Dave Sego, a custom home builder.
She said she expects to hear whether the project has been chosen for the grant in coming weeks.
The effort aligns with the department’s effort to grow its parks and their offerings, she said. If the land is purchased by the city, the parks department will have control and will be able to preserve it, she added.
“Once we buy it, it’s ours, and we get to control what happens to it,” she said.
The land will expand Beckenholdt’s offerings; officials expect to add walking trails near the wetlands and through the woods and plan to build restrooms that can be used year round, said park board member Kathy Dowling.
The park is surrounded by housing, and expanding it to include the wetlands and preserve will give residents living near the park easy access to recreation and a park that focuses on nature by offering a 1.5-acre pond, a fishing pier, a 2-acre dog park, wetlands and walking paths.
Dowling said purchasing the land will improve the park, which is one of the most popular parks in the city.
“We want people to enjoy it because it’s a very nice park,” she said. “I think as we grow, more people will continue to use it.”
The park is at the intersection of County Road 300N and Franklin Street, and Interstate 70 runs just south of the park. Purchasing the wooded area adjoining the park will enable the wooded area to remain a buffer between the interstate and the park, Kuker said.
Maintaining that buffer is important in preserving the park in its natural state, where residents can enjoy woods, wetlands and wildlife, she said.
Mayor Chuck Fewell said the effort helps the city offer residents more parks, walking trails and public spaces to enjoy, which is a goal of many city leaders and officials. If the city receives the grant and is able to purchase the land, it would put the city in control of the wetlands — which are protected by federal regulations — and the wooded area.
“We want to keep the parks preserved,” he said. “This will help keep Beckenholdt Park … which is a more primitive park.”