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Ask The Mayor: Kokomo's Goodnight On Championship Park

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight Tuesday at City Hall (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

The city is working on rezoning land for a $86 million project called Championship Park, conference center build is going through some changes with a new developer, and Koko Go bike share program is underway.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: I really wanted to center on the announcement that came right after we left here in June about an $86 million youth sports and commercial development called Championship Park. How did this come to be?

Goodnight: This is something we've been discussing trying to work out the details. The developer is Steve Henke, they developed Grand Park in Westfield. Geographically when you look at Kokomo with our connection to Indianapolis - especially the north side, if you live on the south side of Kokomo, you can be at Grand Park in about 25 minutes. So they looked at this as a natural extension or alternative to utilize a sports facility.

To make this work, the developer wants to make some commercial area around it, so he's looking at two hotels, some restaurants... Steve Henke has a great reputation as a mover and shaker and making things happen, so we're excited about this. We hope to start moving ground this fall.

Kokomo Championship Park proposal
Proposed site plan rendering on Kokomo's east side. (City of Kokomo)

Hren: I see where the Kokomo School Corporation gave 10 acres to the city in this area so will the school use these facilities as well?

Goodnight: Yes, we want our local youth to use this during the week during the baseball and softball season. 

Hren: How much is private development and how much is the city paying into this?

Goodnight: I think this is going to be about $9 million of city investment and about $77 million of private development and the city portion will come through a TIF district which will capture the taxes paid by that $77 million dollars. There'll be some up front costs by the city, but eventually the TIF district will pay for that then will create revenue for that district.

Hren: So that $9 million goes toward infrastructure? And who runs the facility?

Goodnight: Yep, parking lots, the fields themselves, lights, scoreboard, just to make sure it's a quality facility. We're in discussion right now whether it will be managed by the parks department or will have a third party vendor.

Kokomo Championship Park site
Proposed site of Kokomo's Championship Park. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

Hren: Looking at the site plan, there is a residential area to the east. Is there any concern from residents about lights, noise, traffic?

Goodnight: I haven't heard anything at this point. We've had a couple of public meetings. We did reach out to a couple of neighborhood leaders, and gave them a heads up that this was coming. So far so good. 

Hren: Last time we were here we learned about a new developer for the downtown conference center, is that project moving forward now?

Goodnight: Yeah, the interesting part is everyone wants their personal touches, so there's some changes and modifications, but we're still optimistic that we can get things going this fall.

Kokomo Conference Center parking garage
Rendering of a new conference center parking garage that will also serve the public. (City of Kokomo)

Hren: Anything else you'd like to announce or add?

Goodnight: A couple weeks ago the Fourth of July weekend, we rolled out our KoKo Go Free Ride, our free bike share program. We purchased about 40 bikes, it's open in the evenings and pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday. It's for visitors and residents. So all you need to have is a credit card so you don't just take the bike. It's very easy, and you can take it for up to three hours and bring it back. If there's no one waiting, you can take it out again for three hours. 

We have a beautiful trail system, almost county line to county line, so it's trying to get people who don't normally bike, to get them out on the trails and maybe they'll go and buy their own bike.

Kokomo bike share program
Kokomo's free bike share program called Koko Go. (City of Kokomo)

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