By Sadie Hunter
With the late-April opening of Federal Hill Commons at the western gateway of Noblesville’s downtown on the horizon, city administration says it’s in the process of discussing its options for the 1.3-acre Seminary Park that sits on the eastern 300 block of 10th Street.
On March 1, a presentation was made in executive session by city administration to the Noblesville Parks Board for Seminary Square, a development project that proposed the city sell 0.88 acres of the park for the construction of 12 homes. The project also proposed making enhancements to the remainder of the park, according to a statement from the city.
However, after feedback and discussion among city staff and parks representatives, the project is not moving forward after it was determined unfeasible for that specific site.
In response to an article and opinion piece from another local news outlet, the city also said in its statement that the purpose of the March 1 presentation in a non-public meeting was to hear initial, internal feedback from parks board members before making the information public.
“This conversation was an early step in the process,” the statement reads. “If favor was there, the next steps were to meet with Noblesville Preservation Alliance, notify other community groups and then propose it publicly before ever being presented at a public meeting, unlike the March 14 date inaccurately published in the story.”
“A majority of the events that had taken place in Seminary Park are moving to Federal Hill Commons,” Mayor John Ditslear said in the statement. “As our staff was looking at ways to reinvent that space, we were approach by a developer with this idea. I’m disappointed at the precedent this sets. Our staff needs to feel it can bring ideas forward or present during an executive session where all of the information discussed is considered to be confidential, without information being leaked. It also unfairly worried concerned citizens and put the city in a bad light.”
Moving forward, the mayor’s office has said it wants Seminary Park to be fully utilized after some of its programming – like the Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission’s Shakespeare in the Park and Sunday concerts – is moved to Federal Hill Commons.
“We’ve heard from the passionate residents that were concerned about their neighborhood park,” Ditslear told Current. “The parks department is exploring programming opportunities at Seminary Park.”
Ditslear said any future enhancements or equipment would have to be approved by the park board or common council, as budgets for both bodies have already been approved for 2017 and did not include changes to Seminary Park.
“The plan is to keep Seminary Park as Seminary Park,” Ditslear said. “The city is not currently looking at any developments for this land. We are looking for another area in the city where the type of development that was presented (Seminary Square) could be used.
“One idea could be to better engage with local residents at Seminary Park with Rec2Go – where the parks department brings recreation to neighborhoods,” Ditslear added. “The parks team is full of creative people, and I know they are working on opportunities that we can try to implement this year.”