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Bloomington, IN Converts Regional Railroad Hub into City Park
Bloomington, Ind. – An event that was decades in the making, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton celebrated the grand opening of the city's new Switchyard Park with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony November 16. The former McDoel Railroad Switchyard served as a regional hub for railroad activity and commerce from 1892 until 2000, when CSX Railroad made the decision to phase out its services. The last train left the switchyard in 2004.
The grand opening included tours of Switchyard’s state-of-the-art, railroad-themed skatepark, the now daylighted Clear Creek, the Community Gardens, as well as presentations from the Monroe County History Center on the history of Switchyard Park, including its time as a railroad switchyard.
“Switchyard will enhance life for so many in our city, giving us a beautiful place to play, relax, and gather with friends and family, to inject new life into a central part of our city, and to grow as a regional destination,” said Mayor Hamilton.
The City of Bloomington purchased most of the land that is now Switchyard Park in 2009. A vision carried forward over four administrations, the TIF-funded $34 million project approved by the Redevelopment Commission involved a months-long master planning process to collect input from city residents, stakeholders, interest groups, environmental advocates, and neighboring property owners. Construction of the new Switchyard Park began in 2017 with a year-long project to install critical infrastructure, including digging Clear Creek out of the culverts where it was buried for 100 years, and planting hundreds of native trees and plants. Bloomington Parks and Recreation and city officials held a Switchyard Park groundbreaking at the B-Line Trail trailhead at Grimes Lane on May 11, 2018.
"Many talented and dedicated people have contributed to the success of this monumental project," said Recreation Department Administrator Paula McDevitt.
The Park features:
Pavilion - 11,000 square feet of rental banquet and festival indoor/outdoor space
Stage - outdoor performance stage and Grand Lawn that can accommodate 5,000 to 8,000 people
Community Gardens - 39, 4' x 8' raised garden beds available for rent
Courts & Fitness - Four pickleball, three bocce ball, and one basketball court plus nine fitness stations
Splash Pad - water spray features with shaded seating and a restroom/changing area/picnic shelter nearby
Playground - Hillside slides, climbing net, balance beam, interactive music play equipment, and face-to-face parent/child swings
Skate Park - 12, 580 square feet with 30 different obstacles/events
Dog Park - two fenced areas (large dog and small dog) totaling 4.7 acres
For additional information:
Administrator, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department
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