Tarkington Park Redesign

Recently I’ve received a few requests to talk about the Tarkington Park Redesign proposals by Rundell Erntsberger Associates.  The redesign was something that was on our blog’s radar before these requests were made, and I certainly feel like they are worthy of discussion here.

The park was most recently known for being the target of a controversial removal of a mid-century modern structure designed by Edward Pierre.   It seems that the design of new structures proposed in the concepts do not deviate that far from the removed structure.  It would have been interesting to see how REA could have incorporated the old tennis shelter in their master plan, but it is obviously too late for that.

The space is quite underutilized today, as it is located on the border of 2 large neighborhoods (Butler Tarkington and Meridian Kessler), and is the only public park located inside of their boundaries.  I’ve never visited the park, and I’ve lived near the area for the better part of a decade, so the potential increase of amenities is exciting to contemplate.

Here are the 2 concepts for the park:

Source: Rundell Ernstberger Associates

Perhaps the most important aspect of these designs are the improved street crossings.  Crossing Meridian Street in particular is a daunting prospect for most pedestrians.  Easier access to the park will help to ensure the popularity of the new amenities that would be installed.  After that, I’m not sure which of these 2 concepts that I personally prefer, but would love to hear any thoughts from readers.

Comments 15

  • Concept 1 is denser and has more amenities. Concept 2 has a centralized spray plaza and a larger path network. I’d lose some of the tennis courts to make another circular path for Concept 1 and go with that one.

  • I like concept 1 as well if nothing else, for the playground that is has. I like the amount of tree cover proposed by concept 2 though.

  • It’s interesting to see that the grassy berms that were installed along Meridian a decade or so ago are now apparently to be removed. As a resident of Butler-Tarkington, I’m not sure what to think of that. Before the berms were in place, the park felt rather exposed and did not provide a great Gateway appearance to the Historic North Meridian Corridor. In place, the berms seem to provide some definition to the park. That said, I imagine there are arguments for removing them in order to feel more “inviting” to those from the east in some way. What does need to happen, however, is an increase in use by a wide range of people — much like Holliday (sic) Park has become — so that it “feels” safe in addition to being safe. I’ll be curious to see what others have to say.

  • To those involved in this: what entity will provide the $s and supervision to maintain the new improvements, including landscape, hardscape (including areas for sports) and buildings? Please do not build anything new if it cannot be maintained. Any cafe will fail unless it is supsidized. And please do not provide a low-level, drop-in, worse-than-the-most-basic-pit-toilets-in-a-National-Forest-or-even-BLM-land toilet structure. Thank you.

  • If I lived in the area I would prefer #1 because it has both a playground and a dog park. But overall I like both.

  • As it currently stands, T Park is hugely under utilized, except for the tennis courts and the playground, all along the northern edge of the park. The hope is that a revitalized park, coupled with the proposed TIF district, will spur development both adjacent to the park, and along Maple Road (which despite improvements to the street, still lacks any significant commercial improvement. Within easy walking distance of the park we have dozens of apartments that could provide homes to young “first job in the city” professionals if only there were more attractive amenities in the area. The park is bordered by some of the best, and some of the worst neighborhoods in the city. An improved park won’t, by itself, completely alter that dynamic, but it’s a really worthwhile first step. The two proposals aren’t meant to be absolutely mutually exclusive, but, because each introduces some different elements, are meant to spur some discussion about which parts of either plan might be more desirable. All council-members whose districts surround the park soke before the MDC about their desire to see this area improved and a new Tarkington Park has the potential to begin a move in that direction.

  • Concept 1, I believe is more successful for this particular neighborhood because it feels more inviting. The main reason for this is due to the amenities being more dense but also how the activity stations border the park along Illinois Street. I think that’s important. And I like the open lawn taking up the middle space. Overall, concept 1 feels a bit more urban and appropriate for this location.

  • As has been pointed out by others, this is a truly unusual park already due to the three quite different neighborhoods it borders. These concepts do a great job in re-imagining what is a largely unusued (and often-avoided) space. Any re-branding of the park will need to address all of the following at a minimum if it is to work:

    1. Serve all of the neighbors (not just the young, not just the athletic, not just the rich or poor– it is a wide demographic from rich to poor within just 2-3 blocks);
    2. Safety at all hours;
    3. A wide variety of regular programming on the Event Lawn representing cultural activities that would appeal -perhaps at different times — to all;
    4. An acknowledgement that its success feeds and depends on the need to revitalize the 38th-40th Illinois Street corridor.

  • Just a quick FYI: Holliday Park thrives not simply because it’s close to wealth or even Indy Parks. It has “Friends” moreover the Friends of Holliday Park that keep it beautiful, up-to-date, safe and a destination for many. For Tarkington to be successful long term, I would hope such an organization would come to exist. In all – that space has a lot of potential to become something great and I personally like concept ONE.

  • Brandon is absolutely correct. Indeed, it was the “Friends of Holliday Park” who spearheaded the movement to recreate and maintain the park twenty-odd years ago. That really should have been my point number five on my second post. It would seem that with so many groups already in the immediate Tarkington Park area (Maple Road, Butler-Tarkington, Meridian-Kessler, Meridian Street Foundation, etc.) a similar Friends group could be brought together at this crucial moment. Unlike Holliday, however, I think its success also hinges on the redevelopment/beautification of the adjacent commercial area as well.

  • I really like concept #1. A dog park would be a welcomed addition to the neighborhood and the proceeds from the sale of annual memberships would be a nice income producer for the park. In order for the park to be utilized there must be adequate lighting throughout the park and the dawn to dusk hours strictly enforced. This would be a great start to revitalize the neighborhood.

    What is the next step to this process? What hindrances or challenges exist before revitalization and construction can begin? How can community members get involved?

  • Merge
    Top half Concept 2
    Bottom half Concept 1

  • Construction is happening on this as we speak.

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