MORRIS: After long winter, thinking of parks and how we fund them

Greg Morris
March 9, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

MorrisI know we had snow last week, but spring is almost here. Daylight saving time is just kicking in. We’ve been cooped up much of this winter, and it feels like it’s way past time to get up, get outside and MOVE! That means we’re about to see more people outside taking advantage of our parks and greenways, something that far too many of us take for granted.

With that in mind, I want to talk about Indy Parks and the Indy Parks Foundation, which just had its annual fundraiser, the IPL Mayor’s Lunch for Parks, at the downtown Marriott.

Wonderfully emceed by former Indianapolis Colts executive Tom Zupancic, and with an inspirational talk by WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings of our champion Indiana Fever, the event made me think about the importance of our parks and the parks foundation.

We start at a bit of a disadvantage compared with our peer cities when it comes to parks. City government spends about $43 per person on our parks, compared with about $93 per person in cities of similar size. And only about 4.8 percent of our total land is devoted to parks, compared with 8.3 percent in cities of similar density.

So the parks foundation, which raises money to supplement city funding, has an important role to play. It generates millions of dollars each year that go toward such things as buying more park land and improving the parks we have. The results speak volumes. It has secured more than 200 acres of new park land since 2002.

When I talk about Indy Parks, I wonder how many readers know the full scope of what makes up the city of Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation. Here’s a quick look:

• 11,000 acres of park land

• 207 parks

• 60 miles of greenway trails

• 21 aquatic facilities

• 16 family centers

• 13 golf courses

• 15 spray grounds

• four nature centers

• four disc golf courses

• four dog parks

• and a mountain bike trail, ice rink, conservatory and sunken gardens, arts center, Velodrome, skate park and BMX complex.

None of this would be possible without the financial help of many sponsors and donors. I would love to mention them all; I can’t do that, but I can start with a great example: Lilly Endowment awarded a $10 million grant this past December, the largest single gift in the parks foundation’s history, to be used over the next three years to renovate and upgrade 13 Indy parks.

IPL has been a longtime financial supporter of Indy Parks. And it’s involved in a new partnership with the parks foundation, the city and Pacers Sports & Entertainment that has pledged $1 million to upgrade and improve outdoor basketball courts in parks throughout Indianapolis over the next five years. The first court scheduled to be renovated will be named Tamika’s Court. Based on a tweet I read from Mayor Ballard, I believe the number of courts to be renovated is 30.

There are a lot of great things happening at Indy Parks. I think Kelly Pfledderer, chairman of the parks foundation board, said it best: “Parks boost the vitality of our city, reduce crime, improve public health, enhance community, and support the overall quality of life in Indianapolis. A healthy parks system equals a healthy city.”

If you can donate your time, talent or treasure, I know the folks at the parks foundation would be grateful for any contribution. You don’t have to have millions to give to make a difference.•


Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to gmorris@ibj.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Maybe if we treated the parents of juvie offenders who have 5 babies from 4 different daddies like stray cats and dogs who go around creating a bigger animal control problem, we wouldn't have so much of a "parenting" problem flooding both the social services and (later) correctional systems. The breakdown of morals and parental responsibilities from horndogs who can't keep it in their pants and keep their families together has caused this. If a pit bull attacks someone, it's destroyed. Everyone encourages that pets are spayed and neutered to control the pet population and prevent further issues. Maybe it's time to control the welfare population...

  2. Blocking two blocks of a street along Broadripple Ave. is not going to stop "pedestrians" from walking around. The article stated that seven people were injured as a result of a skirmish between two gun-toting "pedestrians"...not drive-bys. Most of the crimes that are committed in BR area are done by "pedestrians" that are walking in the area...not driving by. This may alleviate traffic going through the area and may steer some folks away from coming to the area because of the extra inconvenience but it will not stop a pedestrian, on foot from toting a gun while walking in that area....period.

  3. Please run for mayor Joe. We need someone to come in and clean house. They past two mayors have run administrations rampant with corruption. We need to clean house before corruption is accepted as normal like Chicago.

  4. Marriage is a religious sacrement ... civil / legal unions pertain to the various desires expressed by many in this debate. There is big difference between your civil right and my religious rite. Both are addressed in the constitution.

  5. This is a terrible idea. I have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for all the men and women who wear a uniform and serve the Indy Metro area. They don't get paid enough for all the crap they have to take. Low Pay and Benefits. Every thug and crazy taking pot shots at them. The statistics, demographics, and data that we have accumulated for umpteen years DO NOT LIE. Let's focus on making sure that the politicians that are "mandating" this crap are living where THEY are supposed to be living. Let's make sure that the politicians are not corrupt and wasting resources before we start digging into the folks on the front lines trying to do a difficult job. Since we are "hip" to "great ideas" Let's round up all the thugs in the Indy Metro area who are on parole violation as well as those in Marion County Jail that are never going to be rehabilitated and ship them down to Central America or better yet...China. Let's see how they fare in that part of the world.