Rocks to Recreation Project Hopes to Expand Potter’s Bridge Park by More Than 50 Acres
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
In the early days of the pandemic, Chris Beaver (now founder of Rocks to Recreation) used to drive by Potter’s Bridge Park and notice how many people gravitated towards nature during such a stressful time.
“Everyone was wanting to get out of their house and find some peace and quiet,” says Beaver, Noblesville resident and president of Beaver Gravel. “Potter’s Bridge Park was a popular destination to find such things.”
The problem was that the original design of the park was not built to hold the number of people who are using it today. Chris thought how great it would be to add a lake, wetlands, and more trails that people could enjoy on bike or by foot. Therefore, he bought 50 acres of land and undertook collaborating on a three-part project with the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to expand the park over a period of several years, starting the Rocks to Recreation project.
“It really tugged on my heart that this was the thing to do because it would be something that generations of Hamilton County residents could enjoy,” Chris says.
The first phase of the project is the park expansion, which the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department is overseeing. Attached to the White River Greenway Trail corridor, the Beavers will give the initial 10-acre donation to the parks so they can start expanding the nature trails for walking, biking and hiking. They’ll also build three shelter houses and a new wildlife habitat. Phase two involves creating a 10 to 12-acre lake for recreational kayaking, boating, fishing and canoeing. A pier will also be included. The third phase is residential development.
“We saw a need for housing in Hamilton County and thought we could provide a unique opportunity here by building 27 upscale, rooftop-style townhomes,” Chris says. The development will offer clean lines and a high-end feel, making these properties desirable to both young professionals and those entering retirement.
“They’ll have a beautiful park in their backyard to walk their dog or play with their grandkids,” Chris says. “It’ll be a unique situation to be able to live right next to a bustling park.”
With the park’s expansion, the eight miles of trails will allow increased connectivity to downtown Noblesville, surrounding neighborhoods, and other Hamilton County cities and towns.
Currently, the Beavers and Hamilton County Parks are in the process of asking for a government use overlay. That way, the parks department can have it when they are done digging the land. A presentation to the Noblesville Planning Commission happened in May, and there will be a City Council vote on the project in late June.
Following the zoning process, they’ll remove the sand and gravel out. As soon as the gravel pit is done, the developer can start on the townhomes. The park would be built simultaneously. By giving the Hamilton County Parks the acres of wooded area, the 30-acre expansion can start immediately. After five years, the Beavers will donate the remainder of the land to Hamilton County Parks. At that point the lake will be done, the dirt work will be done, the grasses will be growing in, and the initial trails and water features will be complete. The parks department itself would own it and have total control of what happens going forward. According to Chris, the Hamilton County Parks commissioners and councilmen are excited about this expansion project.
“They know in their heart that this is going to be a staple for future generations,” he says.
Even so, Chris, his daughter Ali and the Beaver Gravel team, have done their due diligence to put anyone’s mind at ease who may have concerns about the Rocks to Recreation project.
Residents’ primary concerns revolve around water. Therefore, Beaver Gravel hired Interra to conduct an in-depth analysis of water quality and quantity. Their report showed that there would be minimal risk of the operations affecting water quality or quantity, with proper monitoring. For added context, water wells were installed along the River Road area by Westfield in 1986. Westfield’s water demand grew, so more wells were added in 1992. In 2007 they purchased land from the Beaver family to add a major well field on the levee between the Beavers’ operations on the White River to help with rapid recharging of the aquifer. Currently there are 17 major water wells along River Road, many adjacent to existing gravel propelations. All of these wells were implemented decades after the Beavers’ operations began in 1949.
“That should suggest that there’s no concern of quality or quantity because the water is safe today,” Ali says. “We’ve done water studies, ecological studies, wildlife studies and impact studies that address property values long term. We provided facts to the public regarding any concern they might have.”
“I think people forget that we’re citizens of Hamilton County,” Chris adds. “It’s not in our business plan to jeopardize the community that we are a part of. It’s a beautiful park now. We’re just going to make it 10 times better.”
Potter’s Bridge Park is located at 19401 North Allisonville Road in Noblesville. For more information, call 317-770-4400 or visit rockstorec.org.