(BLOOMINGTON) – An event that has been decades in the making, the grand opening of the city’s new Switchyard Park takes place on November 16 and 17. Mayor John Hamilton invites the public to celebrate Switchyard Park with a series of events on Saturday evening and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for November 16 from 6 until 8 p.m. at the Pavilion in Switchyard Park. All grand opening events are free and open to the public.
“We are thrilled to invite our Bloomington community to celebrate the opening of this fabulous new park,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “Switchyard will enhance life for so many in our city, giving us a beautiful place to play, relax, and gather with friends and family, to inject new life into a central part of our city, and to grow as a regional destination.”
The Saturday evening festivities begin in the Pavilion with light hors d’oeuvres and tours of the building starting at 6 p.m. The Pavilion is accessible from the main Switchyard Park parking lot at 1601 S. Rogers St. The formal ribbon-cutting ceremony begins promptly at 6:30 p.m., with the lineup of guest speakers to include Mayor Hamilton, architect Rundell Ernstberger Associates Principal Cecil Penland, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department Administrator Paula McDevitt, and other community leaders. Immediately following the ribbon-cutting, attendees will be led out onto the main platform for a grand reveal of the newly lighted park.
“So many talented and dedicated people have contributed to the success of this monumental project,” said McDevitt. “For the first time since the project’s inception, we are bringing them all together to share what Switchyard Park means to them, and to the entire community.”
Festivities continue throughout the park from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 17. The Bloomington Community Band will play outside the Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mayor John Hamilton and other special guests will welcome visitors at 11:15 a.m. on the mobile stage outside the Pavilion.
Busman’s Holiday continues live entertainment from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the mobile stage, with food trucks, including Wever’s Smoke Eaters BBQ, Pili’s Party Taco, JD’s Taste of Chicago, The Big Cheeze and the Chocolate Moose set up around the Pavilion to offer a variety of freshly prepared food and drink for purchase. Ongoing events, demonstrations, and programs taking place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. include the following:
- Golf cart tours of Switchyard Park, leaving from and returning to the Pavilion
- Special viewing platform and ‘selfie station’ on one of the berms, for a bird’s-eye view of Switchyard Park
- Grand opening giveaways and demonstrations by the Bloomington Chess Club at the Bosque
- Monroe County History Center presents the history of Switchyard Park, including its time as a railroad switchyard, at the Picnic Shelter
- Mock birthday party, complete with birthday cupcakes, in the Picnic Shelter
- Tours of the daylighted stream — the construction of Switchyard Park included digging Clear Creek out of the culverts where it was buried for 100 years, and planting hundreds of native trees and plants
- Preview of the raised beds at the Community Gardens at Switchyard Park. Take home a package of flower seeds and dream of spring!
- Opportunities to try out the fitness equipment beside the B-Line Trail with staff from the Twin Lakes Recreation Center
- Tours and demos will be offered by Hunger Skateparks, designers and builders of Switchyard’s state-of-the-art, railroad-themed skatepark
- Demonstrations and opportunities to play at the pickleball and bocce ball courts
- A 3-point shooting contest at the new basketball court
- Face painting, a balloon artist, caricature artist, and other games
- Tours of the Bloomington Police Department substation at Grimes Lane
Some areas of Switchyard Park, including the performance and activity lawns and the dog park, will remain closed to the public in order to allow the newly planted grass to grow.
The City of Bloomington purchased most of the land that is now Switchyard Park in 2009. A vision carried forward over four administrations, the TIF-funded $34 million projects approved by the Redevelopment Commission was designed by Rundell Ernstberger Associates, an Indianapolis-based landscape architecture firm, through a months-long master planning process to collect input from city residents, stakeholders, interest groups, environmental advocates, and neighboring property owners.
Construction of the new Switchyard Park began in 2017 with a year-long project to install critical infrastructure. Weddle Brothers Building Group LLC was awarded a construction contract for Switchyard Park in April 2018. Members of the public gathered with elected officials on May 11, 2018 for a ceremonial groundbreaking at Switchyard Park.