Aquatic park on slate for Avon
By Gus Pearcy
Washington Township Parks and Recreation unveiled an ambitious plan for the newly acquired Murphy Park including a $15 million aquatic center.
The 43-acre piece of land near the corner of county roads 625 E. and 100 S. will also be home to an inclusive playground, trails and an activity pond in future development phases.
The aquatics center will have the largest wave pool in central Indiana and one of only four in the state. It will also have a water slide tower, an activity pool, and a large deck that can be used in the winter for the skating rink. Plans call for a pedestrian walkway connecting the park to the Avon Junior Athletics Association Fields across the road.
Parks Director Lora Helmick is holding public input sessions. She told a smattering of residents that the plan came together two years ago after repeated requests for a pool or water park. After extensive study and planning, the plan for Murphy Park emerged.
Helmich said the plan for an inclusive playground — the only one in Hendricks County — would serve children of all abilities. There are features that will help children with different sensory needs. She heard about it at a recent parks conference because children learn valuable life abilities from playgrounds.
“From the second I heard some of the statistics of adults with disabilities that are more likely to get fired from a job or have issues interacting or having relationships, the more I realized that this is something we really need in our community,” Helmick said. “We’re hoping to include features for physical, sensory processing, visual, hearing and emotional disabilities.”
She gave an example of a merry-go-round that could accommodate wheelchairs with an awning to help children process the sensory perceptions.
She added that eventually she’d like to form a council of parents with children of all abilities.
Washington Township Trustee Don Hodson said the $15 price tag for the aquatics center would be bonded out. It will be the first time his administration has attempted a bond, paying cash for everything for the last decade. That includes the $1 million for the former site where the Murphy brothers raised and sold lab mice for biomedical research.
“The average home in Washington Township assesses at $250,000,” Hodson said. “So I asked my financial advisor, based on that figure, on a 15 year loan, what would be the taxpayer cost. It comes out to $49 a year, which is basically $4 a month.”
Helmick’s plan estimates the aquatic center — built for a capacity of 1,200 patrons — could be self-sustaining in three years. If the bond is let this fall, the aquatics park could be open as soon as Memorial Day of 2022.
The Washington Township Advisory Board will be taking up the issue of a bond at a monthly meeting this fall after consideration of the economy affected by COVID-19.
One more public session is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 1 at the Washington Township Park Pavilion Center, 435 Whipple Lane, Avon.