Community Invited to Celebrate Grand Opening of Switchyard Park November 16-17

(BLOOMINGTON) – The City of Bloomington is excited to announce that Switchyard Park will be unveiled to the public November 16 and 17. 

The largest park project in the City’s history, the 57-acre former railroad property stretching from West Grimes Lane to Country Club Road and between South Walnut and South Rogers Streets features a pavilion, a performance stage and amphitheater, skatepark, community gardens, fitness stations, basketball, pickleball and bocce ball courts, splash pad, accessible playground, bosque (formal forest), and picnic shelter; and will have the capacity to host large-scale events and festivals.  

Community members are invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and program Saturday evening, November 16 from 6 until 8 p.m.  The pavilion opens at 6 p.m. with building tours and free refreshments, with a formal program beginning at 6:30 p.m. featuring remarks by Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and special guests. The evening culminates with a grand reveal of the lighted park.

Switchyard Park grand opening activities continue on Sunday, November 17 from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. Free interactive children’s activities and live music are scheduled to take place throughout the day, with food available for purchase from food trucks. During Sunday’s festivities, Bloomington Parks and Recreation staff will welcome visitors to use the park’s features and amenities for the first time, providing demonstrations, equipment for play, and information.  Staff will facilitate a three-point shot contest, pickleball and bocce ball demonstrations and games, and use of the fitness station area. During Sunday’s event, the new Switchyard Park community gardens, with 39 raised garden beds available for rent by the public next spring, will also be on display. Visitors Sunday will also be invited to inaugurate the skate park.

During Sunday’s event, tours will be offered of the new Bloomington Police Department Substation, a remodeled former railroad yard operations building at the park’s northernmost end at Grimes Lane. 

Switchyard Park’s past as a hub of railroad industry involved a significant transformation of the site, including environmental mitigation and “daylighting” Clear Creek that was once buried in culverts. Bloomington Parks and Recreation’s natural resources staff will be present at the site of the daylighted stream to explain the positive environmental impacts of the daylighted stream, and of the hundreds of native trees, flowers, and plants that have been and will be planted in Switchyard Park. 

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 project 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.