Tarkington Park’s ongoing renovation was celebrated today by a host of speakers amid an excited crowd of residents, project partners and supporters. Midtown Indy, the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, the City of Indianapolis, and Indy Parks and Recreation are just some of the key partners. The Park has served visitors to and residents of the several bordering neighborhoods since the City of Indianapolis purchased the land in 1945.
“Tarkington is probably the best example of a consensus that has been reached by many different neighborhood associations,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said to the Indy Star after his speech. “To have something like this happen, you do have to build consensus among all of the neighborhood associations, and when that consensus — it’s hard to achieve — but when that consensus happens, state-of-the-art, cutting-edge parks can result.”
In his speech, John Barth, a former City-County councilman who lives in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, said he sought to help improve the neighborhood a decade ago and saw Tarkington Park as a place for midtown to come together. In 2012, the city put forth a master plan for the park.
In May of this year, The Central Indiana Community Foundation also wrote about this significance of the $12 million renovation in bringing the community together. The park was one of the first supportively desegregated neighborhoods in Midtown, but over the years, 38th street has caused a powerful divide in the neighborhood.
“People historically just didn’t see themselves from the same universe,” Michael McKillip, executive director Midtown, Inc. was quoted as saying of the north-south divide. “This area of the city has been neglected for a very long time. Lack of investment, high crime, poor infrastructure,” said McKillip.
“We said, if we’re going to do something here, let’s create an amazing space. Both for the people who are here, and to generate, again, interest in this place as a destination and not a place you pass through.”
–Michael McKillip, executive director Midtown, Inc.
McKillip also noted in the CICF interview that the neighborhood needs development and increased livability, but that it doesn’t have to come at the cost of its current residents. Urban parks, such as Tarkington Park, encourage neighbors to come together and escape the hustle of life. This past winter, McKillip says he watched hundreds of people visit Tarkington Park, even before it officially opened—a good indication that the park is working for the neighborhood it serves.
Follow Tarkington Park on Facebook for renovation and programming news.