City Responds to Seminary Park Story

On March 1, the Noblesville Park Board met in executive session to discuss a development idea. At that meeting a proposal for “Seminary Square” was presented. The idea was to sell 0.88 acres of Seminary Park's 1.3 acres to create 12 homes and provide enhancements to the remaining 0.42 acres of the park as a way to jump start new downtown home building and redevelopment.

As with the city's procedures, the idea was presented to the park board in executive session for immediate internal feedback, with the understanding that what is discussed is to remain confidential. This conversation was an early step in the process. City staff was very candid when discussing both its pros and cons with the parks board. If favor was there, the next steps were to meet with Noblesville Preservation Alliance, notify other community groups and then propose it publicly before ever being presented at a public meeting (unlike the March 14 date inaccurately published in the story). After discussions with the park board and council members, it was determined to not move forward with the proposal at that location.

In an article released in today's The Times newspaper, the writer provides details about the project as if they came from city officials; however, no contact with city administration was made prior to printing. Details of the development were not verified and opinion was intermixed with the alleged facts. The story indicates that the project “was a done deal” while in reality it was not moving forward.

“Seminary Park’s role in the near downtown area is going to change with the opening of Federal Hill Commons in April.  A majority of the events that had taken place in Seminary Park are moving to Federal Hill Commons.  As our staff was looking at ways to reinvent that space, we were approach by a developer with this idea,” Mayor John Ditslear said.

The background information came from a council member who is a non-voting member on the Parks Board. On March 3, Mayor John Ditslear personally informed the council member that the project would not be feasible at its proposed location. The city is looking for other areas that this type of development could enhance.

“I'm disappointed at the precedent this sets. Our staff needs to feel it can bring ideas forward or present during an executive session where all of the information discussed is considered to be confidential, without information being leaked. It also unfairly worried concerned citizens and put the city in a bad light,” Ditslear said. “The city has hardworking staff members and elected officials that devote time and passion into bringing new opportunities to better the lives of all Noblesville residents. While we all might not agree on a project, I like to believe we all have the best interests for Noblesville in mind.”