A new community planned for the site of an abandoned ski resort in Brown County has the potential to bring hundreds of jobs and thousands of new residents into an area that has been dealt several economic blows in recent years.
Plans for the eco-friendly neighborhood, include a family-themed amusement park with water slides, indoor sky diving, and a year round ski park.
Looking now at the parking lot where broken beer bottles lay scattered, its hard to imagine the property as a thriving multi-use village with condos, luxury homes, and a water park; but that’s architect Burt Perdue’s vision.
There’s a term used to describe what Perdue has planned: it’s a ‘New Urbanist” community.
What is New Urbanism?
“Basically, New Urbanist communities are walkable, connected communities, and that’s what you’re going to see here,” Perdue says.
The City of Bloomington’s Planning Director Tom Micuda oversaw the planning of the New Urabanist community known as the South Dunn Street Development on the city’s south side. He says New Urbanism look to build a city that heralds back to the day before the automobile became a household mainstay.
“It’s attempting to take the old form of urban development prior to the birthplace of suburbia, and replicate new development,” he says.
Micuda says projects such as South Dunn, and the Fall Creek Place neighborhood on the north side of Indianapolis are smaller examples of New Urbanism here in Indiana.
One tenant of New Urabanism is the diversity of residents, Perdue says.
“We’ve tried to have something for everybody, and something at every socio-economic level,” he says.
He says the village will include abodes going full circle, from starter homes to a retirement center.
But, Perdue says, Schooner Valley is more than a neighborhood.
Homes, Condos, and…Water Slides?
He says the family oriented adventure theme park will fill a tourism gap in Brown County.
“It’s going to have some really great venues for kids,” he says. “Which is one of the thing we don’t have here in Brown County, is things for kids to do, and this is going to go a long way to giving them lots of opportunities.”
In addition to the water park, Schooner Valley has plans for mountain bike trails, a zip line, and basketball and volleyball courts.
Environmentally Friendly Water Treatment
In keeping with the New Urbanist tenet of environmental sustainability, Perdue says the project will employ an eco-friendly storm water treatment system, which will improve the water quality of the creek that runs through the property.
“Basically what you do is, you take opportunities for filtering the water to remove the contaminants. Then it will move through the ground and into the creek. Eventually when it gets there, it gets cleaned up.”
That method, he says, is much cleaner than a conventional system.
Now that initial designs are complete, Perdue says the biggest challenge going forward will be finding funding for Stage I.
Micuda says most New Urbanist projects pop up in already developed metropolitan areas, and the rural nature of Schooner Valley could pose a challenge.
“From a market standpoint, the success or failure of all developments, including New Urbanist development, is whether there is enough market, enough demand to support the housing, which will ultimately support the tourism,” he says.
Micuda says giving residents of Schooner Valley access to all necessary urban services could be difficult as well.
However, President of the Brown County Commissioners, John Kennard says Brown County is ready for such a large project. He says the economic effects of Schooner Valley will benefit the entire county.
“They’re projecting between 300 and 500 jobs by the time the project is completed,” he says. “That would be a huge economic boom to Brown County, just from the jobs alone.”
Schooner Valley Village is a seven stage project which Perdue says could take anywhere from seven to fifteen years to complete. He says the entire project should cost around $200 to $250 million. Once completed, up to 1,500 permanent residents could live in the village.