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Monday, June 17, 2024

Frederick Douglass Park Family Center opens its doors on the east side

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The Frederick Douglass Park Family Center’s grand opening saw large crowds and community leaders eager to unveil the $20 million project. Under construction since October 2022, Frederick Douglass Park saw the Martindale-Brightwood community show up in full force to support at the May 23 ribbon-cutting.

Stairs and neon light triangle lights at a new public family center in Indianapolis, Indiana
The Frederick Douglass Park Family Center opened to the public May 23. (Photo/Hanna Rauworth)

“I’m not new to the east side. I was born and raised on the east side. I am just looking forward to connecting in these areas and doing something special,” said Derrick Miller, park manager.

The park will feature a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities, with construction for additional sports fields funded by a $1.5 million Lily Endowment Grant. The large outdoor playground, in addition to equipment and furniture for the center, was funded by a $3.2 million Lily grant.

“As we gather today at this breath-taking new family center … we are ushering in a new era for Frederick Douglass Park,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

A Circle City Forward Initiative project, the east side park will be the largest Indy Parks Family Center in Indianapolis. The Frederick Douglass Park Family Center is part of the pledged $45 million that Circle City Initiative has invested into major park projects.

When initially opened in 1921, Frederick Douglass Park was a site of segregation. The Black community members were not allowed to other parks in the city, so Indianapolis created the city’s Black Park, Frederick Douglass.

“(The park) was a product of our city’s shameful past,” Hogsett said. “Today we acknowledge the sin of our fathers while at the same time celebrating the progress that Indianapolis has made over the past century.”

The indoor activities at the Frederick Douglass Park Family Center include:

  • Basketball courts
  • Weight rooms
  • Dance room
  • Art room
  • Podcast studio
  • EGaming room
  • Food pantry
  • Demonstration kitchen
  • Walking track

The outdoor area features a large playground area, picnic and shelter areas and quotes from the namesake of the park, abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The improvements to the sports fields are anticipated to begin later this year.

The Frederick Douglass Park Family Center has activities for adults, children and seniors throughout the year, which include:

  • Bike Camp
  • Storytelling time
  • Senior aerobics
  • Arts & crafts programming
  • Lifeguarding and swim programs
  • Book clubs
  • Pickleball

For more information about the Frederick Douglass Park Family Center, visit parks.indy.gov for a full list of daily programs.

Contact Staff Writer Hanna Rauworth at 317-762-7854 or follow her on Instagram at @hanna.rauworth.

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