Carmel-Clay Parks and Recreation System


Carmel Clay Central Park

“The overall plan for Central Park is simply masterful.”

—Landscape Architecture Magazine, September 2008


Great parks balance natural beauty and environmental integrity with inspired design. This balancing act has been the key to Central Park's success, now the jewel of the Carmel Clay Park System.

As its centerpiece, SmithGroupJJR created a new lagoon, traversed by pathways and reached by a four-mile network of trails linking visitors to the park's new natatorium and gymnasium. This scenic water feature and its bioswales capture nearly 100% of the site's rainwater, while a special pond naturally treats graywater for release into the park's wetlands. Controversy over the recently completed Monon Greenway had led to public demands for a more transparent planning process. The SmithGroupJJR team helped convene advisory committees and meetings with more than 5,400 citizens. It paid off: voters passed a $55 million park bond, among the largest in Indiana history.

In design terms, Central Park shows how to engage the public, too, connecting neighborhoods and the greenway to this new recreational resource. When Carmel was selected as Money Magazine's #1 place to live in the U.S. in 2012, the cover image featured a family in Central Park—a ringing endorsement for the park's contribution to the community's quality of life.

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