Plans for the future Carpenter Nature Reserve are beginning to take shape.

Project team members joined Zionsville Supt. of Parks and Recreation Jarod Logsdon presenting the reserve’s master plan to Zionsville City Council at its May 16 meeting.

Park planners met with community members to gather input and feedback as they developed the plan for the 216-acre site at the southwest corner of US 421 and Ind. 32. The preferred plan includes demolishing the old clubhouse building and replacing it with a nature center and adding a 5k course, tree canopy walk, wetland walks and a potential future phase called White Oak Commons which would include a small events center and a restaurant or retailer.

Development of the park is expected to proceed in phases and is expected to cost between $20 million and $30 million, depending on the scope and elements selected. The first phase includes the acquisition of the park land, which is expected to cost $4.5 million.

Funding for the project has not been determined, although advisers have discussed a possible bond issue to cover the acquisition. The new Zionsville Parks Foundation is eager to help raise money for the project, according to Logsdon, but can’t get involved until after the city purchases the land. Nancy Carpenter, founder and president of the foundation, owns the nature reserve site.

“With the earth in our pocket, we can start working with all the tools in our tool belt,” Logsdon said.

Councilman Bryan Traylor said he supports the project and wants to ensure it is done in a fiscally responsible manner, which could include prioritizing the acquisition of the park to open fundraising through of the foundation.

“Although the carpenters are committed to saving this property for the city, I don’t want to take advantage of their generosity any longer than necessary,” Traylor said. “If we can make the acquisition, (since) it’s a legacy project, time is on our side.”

The future reserve was the site of the Wolf Run Golf Club until it closed in 2017. The city rejected plans to rezone the land and turn it into a neighborhood of up to 560 homes and mixed-use buildings. Carpenter and her husband, Jim, purchased the property for $5.5 million in early February 2021 with the intention of selling it to the city at a discount so it could be redeveloped as a public park.

Learn more and share your thoughts on proposed plans for the purchase of the nature reserve site at reasite.mysocialpinpoint.com/carpenter-nature-center/carpenter-nature-center-home.