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Jim and Nancy Carpenter purchased the land in 2021 and have been a partner to the Town of Zionsville in the effort of this project. The preserve is appraised at $6,020,000. The Carpenters have agreed to sell the property to the Town of Zionsville for $4,520,000. To acquire the Carpenter Nature Preserve, the Parks and Recreation Department is requesting a bond not to exceed $5.5 million.
The Parks and Recreation Department is requesting a bond not to exceed $5.5 million - $4.55 million toward acquisition/closing costs and the remainder toward engineering, surveys and construction documents for phase one of construction.
The Parks and Recreation Department has been nominated for:
Each grant is administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and requires deed restriction or conservation easements to be placed within the preserve. This is a common practice with IDNR-issued grants. The restriction terms are in line with previous IDNR grants awarded to the Parks Department and complement the vision for the Carpenter Nature Preserve.
Next Level Conservation Trust grant
The Next Level Conservation Trust grant (NLCT) is an IDNR program developed to reimburse communities for the preservation and protection of historic, recreational and ecologically important sites. The Town must own the preserve in order to be eligible to receive reimbursement and must open the preserve as a public facility within a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, a conservation easement would be placed on 173 acres of the preserve at the time of reimbursement. This conservation easement perpetually runs with the land and ensures the preserve will remain natural, protected and enhanced with recreational opportunities as listed in the application. This conservation easement will prohibit subdivision of the preserve and exclude residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial use. Approximately 42 acres of the 200+ acre preserve will remain outside of the conservation easement area to allow for the development of a future nature center, public/private White Oaks Common multi-use space and maintenance facility.
Land and Water Conservation Fund grant
The Land and Water Conservation Fund grant (LWCF) is a federal program that is administered by the IDNR for the acquisition and development of recreation sites. This grant is a reimbursement for actual construction costs and would require phase one of construction to be complete and the preserve to be open to the public within three years of grant execution. Additionally, a deed restriction would be placed on the preserve at the closeout of the grant. This restriction provides legal protection for the site to remain a public park. More information on the deed restriction parameters can be found here. Approximately fifteen acres will remain outside of the deed-restricted area to allow for the development of the public/private White Oaks Common multi-use space and maintenance facility.
Indiana Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program (INSWMP)
The Indiana Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program (INSWMP) is an IDNR program established to offer developers the opportunity to purchase stream mitigation credits that are applied to alternative project sites for restoration work. A mitigation plan is developed by IDNR for project sites and is peer-reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. More information can be found here. This program would provide mitigation and restoration work along 25 acres of the preserve along Eagle Creek and develop a 10-year maintenance fund for upkeep. A conservation easement would be placed on approximately 25 acres of the preserve within 50 feet of each side of Eagle Creek as it runs through the preserve upon program agreement. This restriction prohibits alteration or disturbance of mitigation work and subdivision of the preserve within the conservation easement. It excludes residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial use.
During the January 18, 2023 Parks Board meeting, the board unanimously approved a declaratory resolution of preliminary determination to issue bonds. During the February 8, 2023 Parks Board meeting, public hearings were held for the bond request and additional appropriation for the acquisition and phase 1 development of the Carpenter Nature Preserve. Several resolutions were passed as a result by the Park Board and the vote to issue a Carpenter Nature Preserve bond not to exceed $5.5 million will be before the Zionsville Town Council during the April 10, 2023 meeting.
If you would like to share input or get involved, please attend the upcoming Town Council meeting on April 10 at 7 p.m. at Zionsville Town Hall. You may also contact your Town Council representative.