No goats, but lots of improvements at Bloomington park known as 'the goat farm'
Source: The Herald-Times
Back in 2007, the Bloomington officials and a local developer made a deal: Sherman Rogers agreed to give a 31-acre former goat farm to the city in exchange for rezoning to allow development of 98 acres he owned nearby.
Today, Goat Farm Park, its barn and silo, trail and five acres of prairie plantings are undergoing a $1 million transformation funded by the Sherman and Meredith Rogers family.
Contractors began working in late September on a five-acre expansion to the park's native prairie.Among trail improvements are a new boardwalk on the southwest side of the park, and connection to the northeast side of the park to create a paved, accessible loop.
The barn is getting new siding and being re-roofed. The silo will get a new coat of paint.To keep the park as a natural space, no overhead lighting will be installed at a new 10-spot parking area at the north end that's accessible from the Winslow Road/High Street/Rogers Road roundabout to increase public access to the park.
A new paved trail will lead from the parking lot south through the prairie, traveling through a central greenspace featuring native plants.
The park will have new seating areas and a picnic shelter and trellis at the barn. Local artist Jonathan Racek will erect a colorful metal sculpture nearby.
The park's chimney swift and bluebird boxes provide nesting habitat, and the prairie plants help strain flood debris and improve water quality in adjacent Jackson Creek.
The 2007 agreement to preserve the goat farm ended years of contention that started in 1993 when neighbors stopped a nine-hole golf course planned for the site.
The next year, when a proposal for a 54-house subdivision was approved, neighbors again sued and the developer withdrew the plans.
In 1997, the city plan commission approved a five-lot subdivision, but no houses were constructed. The Church of the Good Shepherd acquired the land in 2000, and got city approval for a 55,000-square-foot building and 400 parking spaces. Neighbors filed a lawsuit; the church was never built.
In 2004, new owner Heartland Development Group expressed a desire to build a high-end residential neighborhood.
Two years later, after much debate, Heartland agreed to dedicate the goat farm property as green space for the city in return for the rezoning sought for now-developed property off Snoddy Road between Rogers and Rhorer roads.
"I'm not sure you could come up with any proposal that wouldn't be contentious," former Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan said at the time. "Green space may be the one."
The current upgrades are expected to continue through the winter and be completed in the spring, when the city will dedicate and rename the goat farm as Rogers Family Park.
For more information, go to: https://bton.in/uD3bB.