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Switchyard Park Receives 2024 Great Lakes Park Award for Groundbreaking Design and Accessibility Initiatives

Cecil Penland with GLPTI Board Chair Rowdy Perry and Assistant Director Layne Elliott
(L-R) GLPTI Assistant Director Layne Elliott presents the Great Lakes Park Award to Cecil Penland, Partner at Rundell Ernstberger Associates, with GLPTI Board Chair Rowdy Perry.

Bloomington, Ind.Switchyard Park was recognized Feb. 27 by the Great Lakes Park Training Institute (GLPTI) with a Great Lakes Park Award at the GLPTI's annual conference in Angola, Ind.

"Switchyard Park was, and remains, the largest park development project in the city's history," said Parks and Recreation Director Tim Street. "Not only is Switchyard Park a free and accessible space for the benefit of our community, it is an economic driver that supports local people and small businesses."

According to Layne Elliott, Assistant Director of the GLPTI, awards are given annually by the GLPTI's Board of Advisors to recognize parks, facilities, and programs that represent the cutting edge of the park and recreation profession in the United States.

"Rundell Ernstberger Associates is honored to have led the design of Switchyard Park and helped oversee its construction," said Cecil Penland, Partner and Landscape Architect for the Indianapolis-based urban design, planning, and landscape architecture firm. "A legacy project for both the city and REA, Switchyard Park is truly worthy of the honor awarded by the GLPTI that recognizes parks and facilities that are driven by community input, and those which are innovative and impactful."

Significant environmental remediation took place throughout the park grounds to remove coal ash and cinders, control invasive plants and trees, and daylight a creek buried in culverts a century ago to allow for railroad development in the former switchyard. Community members actively participated in shaping the park's landscape by providing feedback in open houses, attending design workshops and charrettes, and serving on the master plan's technical review and steering committees.

Penland said, "Switchyard Park is innovative in the amenities it provides, its use of sustainable materials, and its management of stormwater. The transformation of this legacy industrial site into a beloved destination park has already impacted the community's environmental, social, and economic health and well-being."