Chelsea Schneider, Innovations Content Manager, Aim
What started as a plan to install new basketball and tennis courts in Whitestown grew into a major park project that now serves as a gathering point for the Central Indiana town.
Whitestown is a young community, where neighbors often get together within subdivisions, said Nathan Messer, the town’s parks director. That sense of collegiality played a key role in turning the initial smaller parks project into a $5 million effort that brought a splash pad, playground, shelter, along with new sporting facilities, to Whitestown’s Main Street.
“I feel this will give a great central meeting space for people to get together,” Messer said. “Parks is a huge part of economic development and quality of life for a community. It helps attract business. Businesses want to be located where we have amenities. It definitely attracts people, and our home values have grown.”
The park, with its vibrant blue and green color scheme and unique playground equipment, is adjacent to a neighborhood of around 1,100 homes. The park also will eventually connect with an area trail network.
To see the project to fruition, Whitestown leaders used an innovative construction model. The town partnered with Meyer Najem Construction to utilize a delivery method called Construction Manager at Risk and was the first municipality in Indiana to use the strategy.
In Construction Manager at Risk, the entire project team (owner, design team and construction manager) are solidified early in the process. This methodology encourages a team approach and clearly defines a common goal, which is to provide the owner with the product they desire. And to do so, within their budget and on time, all while mitigating the risk of change orders.
“Parks and recreation are key to the perpetuation of communities. The younger generation in their 20s and 30s that have kids want green space, trails, and playground amenities. The live, work, play concept is vital to retaining families,” said Dan Lawson with Meyer Najem Construction. “It’s just quality of life.”
The Main Street project has contributed to a doubling of parkland in Whitestown in recent years.
“It went really quickly,” Messer said, “and it’s come out very nice.”