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Page last updated on October 21, 2021 at 1:40 pm

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Becky Higgins

Recreation Services Division Director

City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department





Bloomington Receives 2021 Aim Community Placemaking Award for Switchyard Park

Bloomington, Ind. – Bloomington has received the Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (Aim) Community Placemaking Award for the development of Switchyard Park. The award was announced October 6 during the 2021 Aim Ideas Summit in French Lick, Ind. Bloomington won the statewide award in the greater than 50,000 population category.


The award recognizes the transformation of the former railroad yard into a community asset that has attracted thousands of visitors and several new investors to the south side of Bloomington.  Using community engagement and master planning, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department worked with landscape architect Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) to lead the process of revitalizing the formerly industrial 65-acre site into the City’s most ambitious park project to date.  Switchyard Park is traversed by the B-Line Trail and features a pavilion, spray pad, dog park, performance stage and amphitheater, community gardens, pickleball and bocce ball courts, and many more amenities.  The park officially opened to the public in November 2019.  


“The City is honored to accept this award from Aim recognizing how Switchyard Park has renewed and enriched our community,” said Mayor John Hamilton.  “I salute my predecessors for having recognized the potential this property had for Bloomington’s future, and our Parks department for their leadership in realizing the vision.  For generations to come, the redevelopment of this property will have a transformative effect on quality of life and economic development in its surroundings, and for Bloomington as a whole.” 


REA Principal-in-Charge of Design, Kevin Osburn, noted, “Underlying Switchyard Park's diverse mix of amenities is a comprehensive ecological restoration strategy involving environmental remediation, habitat and stream corridor restoration, and best practice stormwater management that demonstrates how thoughtful planning and design can transform legacy industrial landscapes.”


Aim CEO Matt Greller noted how Bloomington’s investment in quality of place amenities spurred additional corporate interest in the community.  “When a city or town invests in itself and demonstrates their potential as a talent attractor, it gives the private sector more confidence to locate or expand in the area.  Projects like Switchyard Park exemplify place-based economic development,” said Greller.


Aim’s video recognizing Bloomington’s Community Placemaking Award may be viewed at



About the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department

Bloomington Parks and Recreation is responsible for more than $85 million in City assets.  The Department manages 2,342 acres of property including 33 parks, 27 playgrounds, a golf course, ice arena, two pools, three community centers, three natural resources properties, 13 ballfields, 22 tennis courts, 19 basketball courts and just over 38 miles of trails. The Department is proud to be one of 171 agencies nationwide accredited through the National Recreation and Park Association Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies.  The accreditation standards are used as a management tool throughout the year for planning, operations, financials, community involvement, and evaluation.

Bloomington Parks and Recreation has been twice named National Gold Medal Award Winner for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).  The department took this award for communities with a population between 75,000 and 150,000 in 2007 and 2018. 

The department is organized and managed in four program divisions including Administration, Recreation Services, Sports Services and Operations and Development Services.  These divisions are staffed by 53 full-time staff members and more than 450 seasonal staff. 


About Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA)

Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) is an award-winning urban design, planning, and landscape architecture firm. Since 1979, REA has been a consultant and trusted collaborator to governments, universities, and businesses across the country. REA is committed to making our world a better place. That starts with celebrating the unique identity, culture, and history of each community. REA makes spaces for connection, for building new relationships and deeper engagement — and for improving the health of people and the planet. Our work reflects who we are and what our communities can become.


About Aim

Since the 1890s, Aim, formerly the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, has been an advocate for Indiana municipalities.  Aim is the official voice of municipal government in Indiana, with more than 460 cities and towns as members.  Aim's purpose is to foster, promote and advocate for the success of Hoosier municipalities as laboratories of innovation, hubs of talent and the engines driving our state’s economy.