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Charlestown receives a 70-acre land donation to expand parks

102522_Charlestown Parks_Hoodies_by City of Charlestown
Courtesy of City of Charlestown
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The land donation will add 70 acres of greenspace to Charlestown's park system.

The parks system in Charlestown will be expanding after a 70-acre land donation.

Sharon Kleinert donated the farmland to the city in an agreement that was finalized this month. Kleinert said living the “farm life” for more than three decades helped her understand the importance of preserving natural spaces.

“Watching our Southern Indiana communities grow and ‘fill the land,’ it is vital to provide green open space where residents may appreciate the beauty of nature and relish time spent outdoors,” Kleinert said in a news release.

Charlestown Mayor Treva Hodges said keeping land aside for dedicated green spaces is important as the city continues to develop.

The city has grown both in population and commercial development in recent years. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Charlestown’s population increased by 5% between 2020 and 2021.

Businesses in the nearby River Ridge Commerce Center employ more than 10,000 people, and more developments are continuing to be built in the area.

“As people move into an area and as residents that are already in an area look in places where growth is occurring, there’s a comfort that comes along with not having everything be developed into concrete buildings,” Hodges said.

According to Charlestown officials, the city has an underdeveloped parks network compared to similar cities.

Officials said a city the size of Charlestown should have anywhere from 63.3 to 136.2 acres for parks. Prior to Kleinert’s donation, there were only 46 acres of developed parks in Charlestown.

Hodges said that maintaining natural spaces is key to improving residents’ quality of life.

“It gives people spaces to enjoy the outdoors and play and not just feel everything is being developed for business purposes,” Hodges said.

In spring 2021, Charlestown officials released a parks master plan that highlighted areas of the city that lack green space. It included the area where the 70-acre donation is located.

The donated acreage is near the Shadow Lake Business Park, a large industrial and residential project on High Jackson Road and Highway 62.

Plans for the new park on the site, which will be called Shadow Lake Park, are still in development, but Hodges said some details have been solidified.

“One thing we know for sure about the 70 acres is that we are going to increase our trail network. That was also a deficiency that was noted in the parks master plan,” Hodges said.

Kleinert made it a goal to keep much of the land available for trail use. The city also will keep any existing mature trees on the property.

In addition to the 70 acres from Kleinert, Hodges said the city will soon close on another land donation of 7.8 acres near Clark “Doc” Werner Dog Park.

The land could be used to expand the city's trail system and a new disc golf course.

“We had an overwhelming amount of requests for disc golf courses, and so with those seven acres that’s going by the dog park, that makes a perfect location to put one of those courses in,” Hodges said.

In order to make plans for the 70-acre addition to the parks system, Hodges said the city will rely on community feedback to find out what is best for residential needs and the existing green space.

“We’re not looking to replace things, we’re looking to expand,” Hodges said.

She said that process will likely begin early next year and take until mid-2023 to complete. From there, the city will form a clear timeline for the park's development.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.