At more than 900 acres, Riverside Regional Park is one of Indianapolis’s premier urban parks and similar in size to Central Park in New York City. Located on the former Riverside Golf Course grounds, Riverside Adventure Park aims to expand the space beyond a single-use golf facility into a multifunctional, interactive park for all. Based on community input and site analysis, five activity zones were developed: wetland education, winter recreation, adventure recreation, river recreation, and nature engagement. First-phase implementation will include trail facilities, a nature playground, picnic shelters, signage, re-aligned entry drive and parking infrastructure, and a pedestrian bridge at Crooked Creek, planned for construction in 2023.
The park is surrounded by diverse, low to moderate income neighborhoods as well as a university. Aside from a central zone of traditional park recreation facilities, three golf courses have occupied most of its acreage since the turn of the nineteenth century.
At the end of 2019, the City of Indianapolis closed Riverside Golf Course and hired a team led by V3 to develop a conceptual design for the adventure park. Our multi-disciplined team performed an inventory of the site’s natural resources, existing conditions and researched the site’s history.
The project kicked off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired the team to creatively design a new way to safely engage with residents across the 200-acre site to draw visitors seeking outdoor experiences during the pandemic.
An open house with guided and self-guided site tours across the 200-acre park site helped folks discover the quickly transforming landscape. The open house event was led by project team member Groundwork Indy, an organization embedded within the neighborhood. This allowed the project to put dollars directly back into the community by employing local vendors and performers for the public open house.
Five temporary art sculptures were installed and an open house event drew nearly 500 participants to the park for tours, performances, and food.
An equity-based engagement strategy provided opportunities to build relationships and trust with the community which yielded opportunities that hadn’t been considered.
Invasive plant material was inventoried and identified for removal through restoration using native plants. Native floodplain planting strategies were developed to minimize the impact of invasive plant seed introduction by future flooding. First-phase improvements will incorporate native planting in compensatory storage and other landscape areas.