A new playspace on the downtown canal? Yes please.

//A new playspace on the downtown canal? Yes please.

There is a certain base of knowledge that as moms we gradually acquire as our kids grow. Where is the closest bathroom to me at any given second? When will we be there? Did I pack backups for my backup snacks? How early should I leave my house to swing through Starbucks before daycare drop-off? This is crucial information, and Moms just have a way of knowing ALL the things.

Indianapolis-area moms can add another line item to this never-ending list of practical knowledge:

Where is the closest playground?

For downtown Indianapolis moms – especially those close to the canal – the answer is, much closer now! Thanks to a $1.5 million donation from the Indianapolis Colts, the city will be adding a 1-acre playspace. The new playground is designed to mimic a drop of water hitting the ground and will feature a climbing tower, nets, stepping stones, and much more, all in a bright Colts blue color.

The playground – nestled along the side of the canal off of Walnut Street – will be neighbor to the U.S.S. Indianapolis National Memorial. It will also be accessible from the Cultural Trail, a recognizable and popular landmark in downtown.

Downtown Canal Indianapolis playspace - theCityMoms

The playground feels modern, fresh, and innovative, which is often the vibe downtown families really crave. The city hopes the playground will attract more people to the Downtown Canal while also catering to the residents who represent the fastest growing neighborhood in Indianapolis, according to Bob Schultz, senior vice president of marketing and events at Downtown Indy Inc. in an interview with the Indy Star.

So what’s going on now? Some critics have voiced opposition over the future playground.

To that, we ask: WHY?

Local Facebook boards are flooded with inquiries why the playspace won’t be located near high attraction points like White River State Park’s museums or Zoo…

Answer: The location was selected to develop an underutilized area of the canal while remaining accessible to the residents of downtown, not just tourists. And the closest playground with the same modern feel and progressive design are Tarkington Park and the West Commons Playground at Central Park in Carmel {nearly a 40 minute drive without traffic from downtown!}.

Downtown Canal Indianapolis playspace - theCityMoms

Photo credits + thanks due to the Indianapolis Star, 6/5/2018

Others have asked that the community review plans for design or reduction of green space

Answer: Truth be told, Indy Parks and the Indy Parks Foundation did their due diligence on this matter… 5 years ago. According to a piece on RTV6, public hearings were held in both 2013 and 2015 with the Canal Neighborhood Association to gain public input on among some matters, the design.

Also: We’re all for green space. Luckily the broad, rolling green, 250-acre White River State Park is literally a brisk walk down the canal. {Fun fact: WRSP = not an actual state park recognized by the Indiana State Park’s system! ‘State Park’ is just in its name.} There are also a number of adjacent neighborhood parks in the downtown region, thanks to the wonderful folks at Indy Parks.

Some feel the location is contextually inappropriate given its proximity to the U.S.S. Indianapolis Memorial.

Answer: But a greenspace for people to frolic playing frisbee or allow dogs to defecate the lawn is a better option? Rather than eliminate any opportunity for public use, perhaps it’s an excellent opportunity to teach youth about our city’s rich history in wartime, the importance of the U.S.S Indianapolis in WWII, or build upon state history lessons taught at home/in school. I.e. a combination effort of play + learning.

And forgive us for asking but are those petitioning and driving this request for change… parents? 

A passionate mom {or dad} is a powerful mom or dad. We couldn’t help noticing though the folks featured in RTV6’s segment voicing opposition to the downtown Indianapolis canal playspace were… sans children. Bring your kiddos to rally or don’t – totally your call. But hey, we’re in total support of children learning how and where to voice their opinions too.

Downtown Canal Indianapolis playspace - theCityMoms

CityKids Emerson + Hadley demonstrating their support in the January 2017 Women’s March.

Here at theCityMoms, we have become self-proclaimed experts on playgrounds, splash pads, and all other FREE forms of fun. For families on a budget, it’s hard to beat the return on your investment of a playground. Free fun, physical activity, other kids to distract your kids, great naps, and did we already say free? Put that playground in a beautiful area of the city, within walking distance of where you live, near businesses you’re already patroning, adjacent to a city we already love, and magic happens.


ANOTHER READ WITH A LITTLE LESS IN-YOUR-FACE FEELS: The great Carmel, Indiana recess debate


Many of our downtown mommas are already waiting excitedly for the new playground to be built, and many of our non-downtown mommas are ready and willing to make the drive.

  • CityMom Stacey says, “In my head it’ll be like Maggie Daley park in Chicago, and I think that’s brilliant. We’ll probably stop by each time we are downtown.”
  • Downtown dweller and tCM member Amy says, “We live downtown and are thrilled there will be a downtown park! We walk the canal regularly when it isn’t scorching hot. I think the location is great. Super excited for this!”
  • Fellow downtown mama Jessica agrees, “We live downtown and can’t wait!”
  • CityMoms Crystal and Rachael chimed in with support and promise they’ll definitely take their kiddos.
  • CityMom Jeanine echoed “We’re adventurers and advocates of all things green. We’re also blessed to live in a City environment committed to offering both a strong parks system and green spaces. There is room downtown for both.”
  • CityMom Lori does have one suggestion that seems to make great sense to our mom minds: “I hope they decide to add a public restroom!” {For now, playground-goers will have access to a public restroom just a short walk away, but we hear ya’ Lori!}

Expect the new playground to open in Fall 2018 thanks to sponsors the Indianapolis Colts Foundation in partnership with Downtown Indy, Inc., Indianapolis Parks Foundation, and Indy Parks and Recreation.

Post note: If you support the downtown Indianapolis canal playscape, please consider reaching out to a local councilor. Here is a list of recommended folks + their public contact info:

Vop Osili District 11 (downtown) voposili@gmail.com 317-322-0877
William “Duke” Oliver Parks and Rec Committee Chair william.oliver@indy.gov 317-201-6770
Susie Cordi Parks and Rec Committee scordi@comcast.net 317-897-1154
Colleen Fanning Parks and Rec Committee fanningINDY@gmail.com 317-935-4776
Monroe Gray Parks and Rec Committee monroe.gray@indy.gov 317-327-4242
Frank Mascari Parks and Rec Committee frank.mascari@indy.gov 317-788-0520
Janice McHenry Parks and Rec Committee jfmchenry@iquest.net 317-298-5285
Joseph “Joe” Simpson Parks and Rec Committee jesimp7754@sbcglobal.net Cell: 317-710-3612

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Megan Bohrer headshot _ theCityMomsAs a transplant to the Midwest, Megan Bohrer still got excited by the first snow flurries of the season. Although her husband’s job as a private school administrator brought them to the area, Megan recently moved ‘home’ to Atlanta. And damn, we miss her.

When she isn’t chasing after her three children or putting herself through nursing school, Megan enjoys drinking craft beer, photography, playing soccer, and fantasizing about all of the Pinterest projects she will one day complete.

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Jeanine Bobenmoyer headshot - theCityMomsJeanine Bobenmoyer – like many moms – wears numerous hats including wife, mother of 2, trail runner, yoga-addict, Michigan native, die-hard Wolverines fan, Thai food enthusiast and avid reader. After years spent in the world of advertising agencies, she now curbs her Mad Men tendencies as a freelance communications and marketing consultant.

Jeanine is also the Chief Mom Officer and Founder of theCityMoms. Find Jeanine on TwitterInstagram and in the sale section at Anthropologie.

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