A derelict property on the north side of Terre Haute has been transformed into an area the city can be proud of. City and state officials have been working for years to turn an old illegal dump into a 34-acre nature park.
The Maple Avenue Park was most recently the site of an abandoned nursing home which was susceptible to seasonal flooding. The city began acquisition of the property in 2008, but according to Mayor Duke Bennett, has had difficulty creating the nature park that now sits on the site.
“The first thing we had to do was address the flooding issue by cutting a hole in the levy to the west of here,” he says. “So now, when the water rises, it flows back into the river instead of flooding the area.”
While researching the history of the property, Bennett says the city discovered that at some point in the past, people had been using parts of the site as a landfill.
“We went through a long process of removing all of that, replacing it with clean fill, and going through the state testing process to make sure it was ready for public use,” he says.
Bennett says the city was able to fund most of the brownfield remediation through state and federal grants.
The state Department of Natural Resources has stocked the 10 acre pond in the middle of the site with thousands of fish, but says residents must have an Indiana fishing license if they want to dip their line.
Naoma Summerlot has lived near the property for more than 50 years. She says she plans to take advantage of the paved walking trail around the pond.
“I just plan to come over here to walk, and maybe fish with my new friend Charlotte,” she says.
While the park is now open, Bennett says improvements to the property are still underway. He says a bigger parking lot, a boat ramp, and a large shelter are coming soon