ALEXANDRIA — Years ago, the city of Alexandria received a donation of 23 acres with the specification it would be used as a park. Now city officials are hoping to make it a reality.
The 23 acres is localted south of the downtown area between Harrison Street and Central Avenue. Pipe Creek runs through the property, and earlier this week it was evident that people have been walking through the tree-covered property.
“The idea is to have a nature preserve-type park,” said Warren Brown, Alexandria’s economic development director. “It will be complimentary for the city to have that type of a park.”
Brown said the intent is to keep the property looking like what Indiana used to look like. The goal is to include walking and biking paths and picnic areas. He said at least one of the trails will be handicap accessible.
Alexandria recently obtained two properties from Madison County on Black Street behind the city’s recycling center, which Brown said would be made into a trail head complete with restrooms.
City officials have met with representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources about the possibility of obtaining some grant funding.
Since the property is in a flood plain, Brown said it makes sense to create a park.
“We want to keep it natural,” he said. “There are not many small cities in Indiana that would have this type of park.”
City officials would like to see educational programs on the property, which is home to wildlife and a variety of trees.
Mayor Ron Richardson applauded the concept, calling it a great idea and a vision for moving Alexandria forward over the next few years.
“Timing is important,” he said. “It’s really a beautiful property and this would be a really nice project to work on and complete.”
There is no timeline for the start or completion of the park, he added.
“How do we connect the property with our other parks?” Richardson said. “There are already walking and bike paths at Beulah Park, and the Park Board wants to widen the trails.
“This would enhance the quality of life for our residents,” he said.
Brown said the city is looking at connecting the property to the trails at Beulah Park. At least one of the trails would run through the property where the community center is located.
One concept includes connecting the Alexandria park to the Cardinal Greenway in Delaware County.
Brown said it’s hoped the uniqueness of the property will attract visitors from throughout Madison County and Indiana.
The estimated cost is between $1 million and $1.5 million, which would include three bridges over Pipe Creek.
Brown said the next step is to create a committee to work on determining if the project would be eligible for a DNR grant, which would require matching funds.
“This is a prime area,” he said. “We removed over 1,000 tires from the property and have done some cleanup work.
“It’s a vision,” Brown said. “It will take time and money to complete.”
City officials want to design the park in a way that would limit the number of trees that would have to be removed to create the trails and minimize disruption to the wildlife.
“It will be low-maintenance and hopefully high-usage,” Brown said.