Ground has broken on the first stage of Origin Park in Southern Indiana, and visitors will be able to experience it as early as this fall.
Origin Park is the planned 600-acre attraction across the Ohio River in Clark and Floyd counties. There isn’t exact timeline for when the full park will be completed, but the estimated cost is $130 million.
The first construction on the park will be done by SouthernIndiana-based MAC Construction and is expected to be complete in September or October of this year. The first development is a canoe and kayak launch site where Silver Creek intersects with the Ohio River.
Silver Creek is about 4.5 miles upstream. Both of these launch points are under construction now. The first is yet to be named but will open to the public first, at the southernmost tip of SilverCreek.
The second is further upstream, near the site of the formerBlackiston Mill. This launch site won’t be opened until the Providence Dam is removed, because it’s a safety hazard. The first phase of Origin Park doesn’t have a proper name but its nicknamed the Blue Way project. The Blue Way project is entirely in Clark County.
Susan Rademacher, executive director of River HeritageConservancy, the entity building Origin Park, said the designs for both launching locations are simple, with places for people to sit, steps, and a boat ramp leading to the river. Limestone is being used in the construction. Small parking lots will be at both locations.
There’s potential for the creek path to go up to 13 miles, based on dams being removed in the future, Rademacher said.
Joseph & Joseph + Bravura Architects were the architects on the project.
The full Origin Park master plan was finalized in 2020, and Rademacher was added as executive director in January to bring the project into its implementation phase.
The Conservancy owns about 70% of the land needed for the complete project, which includes about 450 acres east of SilverCreek, Rademacher said in an interview with Business First.
“From the standpoint of the master plan, everything about this place comes back to the water,” Rademacher said of the park.
She said the park is designed around the Ohio River and centers around the “dynamic factors” from which the water comes. The origin Park site is located near the Falls of the Ohio, where the Ohio River, Silver Creek, and the Ohio River Greenway intersect.
Because of this, Rademacher said it was important to give people access to Silver Creek where they could canoe and kayak as the first experience of the park.
“This was the easiest lift for us to get started with something tangible that would have public benefits,” Rademacher said.
Rademacher said the conservancy has spent more than a year receiving the permits needed to implement this project. For example, the project required tree removal, so in order to do that, her team had to plant additional trees to mitigate the impact. Rademacher said they are being cautious about preserving the wildlife in the construction zone because the purpose of the park is celebrating ecology.
She said this project was originally intended to open in 2021, but the permitting was a key reason it was delayed.
There isn’t an exact date for the opening. Rademacher said the next phase of development will be the River House building in the southeast quadrant of the park, which will house the offices, an event center, and arts programming. Rademacher expects it to be under construction next year. The area will also include a trail system through 200 acres of Buttonbush Woods.