Special events, activites highlight Greenfield parks this month

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An aerial photograph on the city parks department Facebook site shows Depot Street Park on the day of its dedication, June 18.

Submitted photo

GREENFIELD — July is National Park and Recreation Month and community officials encourage the public to celebrate by exploring what local parks have to offer.

The Greenfield Parks & Recreation Department has activities planned throughout the month — which kicked off with a free ice cream event at the city’s splash pad July 1 — but got a jump start on the celebration with the dedication of two new parks on June 18.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch came to town for the dedication of Depot Street Park and Michael’s Playground, an inclusive park especially designed for children with disabilities.

About 150 people gathered for the dedication of the playground, which is named in memory of Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell’s grandson, Michael, who died in 2019 at the age of 14 from a lifelong battle with Hunter’s Syndrome.

After helping the mayor cut the ribbon at the playground, the lietenant governor headed to Depot Street Park featuring a new ampitheater in downtown Greenfield, where she praised local leaders’ efforts creating the city’s newest park, which sits just off the Pennsy Trail adjacent to The Depot restaurant.

The park celebrates the city’s railroad heritage, rooted in the day when the Pennsylvania Railroad came through town on a rail line that has since become the Pennsy Trail. The park features a large performance stage as well as bubbling rocks, swings and tables that roll along railroad tracks. A train caboose will be added soon.

Greenfield City Planner Joanie Fitzwater said the park has been at the top of the city’s wish list for more than a decade.

“Creating a downtown park has been a place-making goal of our community since 2012. It was born out of our downtown revitalization plan, initiated by Greenfield Main Street and funded by a planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs,” said Fitzwater, who chaired the city’s bid to become a Stellar Community.

“A decade has gone by to bring us from a grassy strip of land in a forgotten corner along the Pennsy Trail to this fabulous park and amphitheater, flanked by the amazing renovated grain elevator (which houses The Depot restaurant) and our newly renovated historic brick street,” said Fitzwater, referring to the adjacent street of Depot Street, which was refurbished with century-old bricks salvaged from State Road 9.

The Indiana Stellar Communities Program is a multi-million dollar investment initiative that began in 2011, through the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Greenfield partnered with Shirley, Fortville and Hancock County to form the Health and Heritage Region, submitting the winning bid to be declared a Stellar Community in 2018. The region was awarded millions of dollars in state funding for various projects as a result.

Of that $2.23 million went to the construction of Depot Street Park, in addition to $495,000 in local and private investments.

Crouch said Depot Street Park demonstrated what the Stellar Communities program is all about — enhancing Indiana communities for the enjoyment of future generations.

“Our Stellar program was put in place to be able to recognize those exceptional communities that could demonstrate that they could come together and work together to be able to put in place quality of life projects like this park,” she said.

“I’m so proud of Greenfield. They are a Stellar community, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Crouch. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”