How DCNP Came To Be:
A Success Story
Daubenspeck is the last name of a local farmer named Peter Daubenspeck, who once owned and farmed many acres of land near the intersection of 86th Street and Ditch Road in what is currently North Willow Farms and nearby neighborhoods on the north side of Marion County. As he slowly sold portions of his farm, Mr. Daubenspeck decided to set aside the plot at 8900 Ditch Road for the benefit of the public, and donated it to the schools.
Since the student enrollment in the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township had been relatively stable since the mid 1990's, and the 15 acre field was too small to build a new school, the MSDWT considered selling the land for development. But the taxpayers of Washington Township cried out to save the land as one of the very rare remaining green spaces left in that township. Another strip mall at this location was simply not needed.
According to the Marion County Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Washington Township has the fewest acres of parkland per capita of any township in Marion County. Citizens argued that the funds raised by the land sale would have covered barely six days worth of one year’s school budget, and then would be
In 2005, the MSDWT School Board decided not to sell the land, and the neighborhoods and community formed an IRS 501-c-3 charitable non-profit organization to manage it as a nature park. In January 2006, Superintendent Dr. James Mervilde and DCNP Board President Deb Ellman Watson signed the documents to ratify a 30-year contract (renewable) for the non-profit “Daubenspeck Community Nature Park” to manage the land as a park, at no cost to the schools.
This innovative project was promptly heralded by all as a win-win for the community, the township, the city, the greater environment, and our quality of life. Proposed by then-City-County Councillor Angela Mansfield, the Mayor and City-County Council publicly honored this project in February 2006 with Special
Resolution #11. A few months later, the Nora-Northside Community Council recognized the community leaders involved with the project at their annual meeting. Then-Mayor Bart Peterson presented the awards.
In June 2006, the yet-to-be nature park project was selected by the national Hands On Network and The Home Depot to be part of their 40-city Corporate Month of Service. An army of more than 130 volunteers from The Home Depot, CitiFinancial, Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society, and the community,
worked through the day on September 7, 2006. They created the original features of the park, and planted more than 400 small trees and 1,000 wetland and prairie plants.
VIP's attended and spoke glowingly at the day's ceremonies, including MSDWT Superintendent Dr. Mervilde, Operations Director Phil Smith, School Board President Lorrie Schlabach, new Board Member Don Kite, City-County Councillor Angela Mansfield, Nora-Northside Community Council President Ruth
Hayes, Attorney Greg Silver, and Regional Vice President of The Home Depot, Scott Baxter. Indy Parks Director Joe Wynns presented a proclamation from the Mayor proclaiming it "Daubenspeck Community Nature Park Transformation Day" in Indianapolis.
The growth continues with wildlife programs, tree plantings, invasive species removal, interpretive signage, trail development, and on-going maintenance. As a 100% volunteer-driven entity, the park continues to flourish with tremendous human effort from Eagle Scouts, community groups, student groups, and individuals who selflessly give of their time and talents.