NORA 2021 Event #1 Recap

Many thanks to the crowd that gathered on Saturday morning at the Dean Evans Community & Education Center (WTSC) on Woodfield Crossing and 86th to discuss the future of the Nora community. We hope you came away feeling more informed, engaged and enthusiastic about the future of Nora within the city of Indianapolis. Thanks also to Washington Township Schools, Whole Foods and Brad Beaubien, for their gracious contributions.

The morning’s speaker, acting Director of City Planning, Brad Beaubien, was the perfect set-up to the larger conversation of how we as a collective community can influence and shape the future of Nora. See his full presentation here. Brad offered lots of insights into the management of this vast city of ours from a planning and physical space perspective, also providing a razor-sharp look at where shifts are taking place in demographics and market demand and how that relates to the physical characteristics of suburban communities like ours.

NORA 2021 is community-led planning focused on Nora’s future, and Brad gave us perspective to “play where the puck is going.”

The second half of the meeting participants provided fast-paced input to a community Liabilities, Assets, Needs and Desires (LAND) assessment. Click here to view the uncondensed list of ideas from the Sept 26 event.


NORA 2021: Vote for Our Community Priorities

On September 26th, a crowd that gathered at the Dean Evans Center (WTSC) on Woodfield Crossing and 86th Street  to discuss the future of the Nora community. NORA 2021 is community-led planning focused on Nora’s future. The morning’s speaker, acting Director of City Planning, Brad Beaubien, was the perfect set-up to the larger conversation of how we as a collective community can influence and shape the future of Nora (view Brad’s presentation).


 Nora Community Priorities Survey

The second half of the meeting participants provided fast-paced input to a community Liabilities, Assets, Needs and Desires (LAND) assessment. That input will feed the planning process and is provided below.

We want to know your priorities! Please click the button below and provide YOUR FEEDBACK (a brief survey of 4 questions).




Summary and Tally of All Responses

We collected and recorded every comment submitted on colored index cards during our group exercise, a Liabilities, Assets, Needs and Desires (LAND) analysis. On the asset side of the ledger, many comments revolved around the great neighborhoods and the amenity of the Monon Trail. On a related note, many of the desires centered on connecting those neighborhoods in a safe manner to one another and to the trail and capitalizing on the trail with more focused, ‘trail-oriented’ development as seen in some recent projects.


L.A.N.D. (summary)
Liabilities -weaknesses within the community, and within the context of the City and region, that we should remain aware of and mitigate as possible

86th (and Westfield, College at times) clogged, unsafe

Aging and subpar apartment stock.

Weak sense of community across cultural, generational lines

Limited pedestrian-friendly areas

Lack of an understood ‘center’ or ‘focus’

History of favor toward strip mall format of development

Lack of identity

Lack of control or input over development

Poor infrastructure: sewers, streets, noise abatement, streetlights, street, street services

Assets – the individuals, associations, and institutions in our community, as well as its physical characteristics–the land, buildings and infrastructure upon which the community rests

Monon Trail

St. Vincent Hospital, IU North: proximity

465 proximity and accessibility by car to highway system

Target (not Walmart)

Jordan Y, FBA Athletics, et al.

Cultural, generational diversity

Washington Township Schools

Neighborhood character defined by mature trees

Shopping nearby; grocery choices

Library branch

Needs – gaps in our human capital, as well as the physical the land, buildings and infrastructure upon which the community rests.

Identity, branding, placemaking

Walkable streets, crosswalks and parking lots

Traffic calming

Center or focus of village

Access to Monon from neighborhoods/Connectivity

Developers who will maintain, build value

Public areas, parks

Efficient alternate transportation options

Basic services: noise, sewers, streetlights. Attention from city

Integration of diverse population into fabric of community life

Desires – our aspirations as  individuals, associations and institutions in our community. A positive statement of things you envision for your community.

Safe, efficient connections to Monon Trail; especially 91st St.

Improved infrastructure: sound(465), sewer, streets and sidewalks.

Public gathering place or center

Passable 86th St for foot and bike traffic

Improved transportation options

Reimagined retail – less strip, chain-based stand-alones (switch: form-based code)

Big, identifiable Nora event

Strong, positive, open neighborhood groups

Parks, preservation, conservation

Strong identity as a place of Indy’s future

Liabilities (all comments)
Car-centric design of Keystone Crossing. Keystone Ave “wall” only passable by car.
Limited interaction between the diversity that exists. (Overwhelmingly caucasian at community meetings).
Public transit could be more integrated into landscape.
Slim on public park land.
Nora Elementary
Lack of proactive planning
Traffic on 86th St.
Lack of specialty shops
Too many fast food joints
Not walkable enough
Fire hydrants
Long term residents
Elementary school not as desirable as it was at one time
Crowed streets: 86th, Westfield
Large number of apartments, not desirable for home values
Too many apartments, some of which are not well maintained
9 large complexes between Westfield and College (91st to 96th)
Hurting schools
No type of housing like zero lot lines i.e. Walden Pond at 99th St. and Westfield
Lack of sidewalks
Not enough parkland, greenspace
Interstate noise
traffic on 86th St.
traffic on Westfield, 91st
real sense of community is lacking
conflict in development and building plans between city and residents
lack of sidewalks
lack of city services: water, sewer, street lights
poor traffic planning, streets, signals
noise from interstate
walkability – sidewalks
schools, tipped over to
lack of alternative transportation options
negative & ignorant attitudes toward immigrants, refugees (reference: many success stories)
lack of sidewalks, bikability, walkabiltiy
ineffective public transit
community center/focus
lack of sidewalks
mobility issues
lack of center
walkability and bikability
traffic on 86th St.
strip mall format
crosswalks on 86th
lack of ability to direct the form of commercial development
lack of identity
lack of physical space
lack recognition
lack of ped infrastructure
too much rental density, too little home density
lack of leadership
town council?
no one to engage city, developers
growth limitations due to age, size
traffic limitations
population demographics
strip mall aspect
declining school performance
increasing crime
no sidewalks
glut of apartments
condition of roads, streets
run down apartments
No center attraction other than a strip mall
No parks
few sidewalks
no parks
minimal street lighting
lower standards in schools teaching to lowest common denominator (ESL students)
land availability for new growth
lack of walkability south of 86th(nora)
lack of parks
apartments too prominent
strip mall format
lack of city center
Assets (all comments)
Traffic on 86th St. (good for my business)
Kid-friendly neighborhoods
Monon Trail
Proximity of St. Vincent
Local restaurants
86th St. corridor
Monon Trail
St. Vincent
Monon Trail
Local Flavor
Brand Businesses
Inside 465
the foundation of a heart of nora (high probability of success)
Economic power: income
restaurants and businesses
school density
jordan y
Ease of commute
character of homes
cultural diversity
age diversity
target plus local shops
character, not cookie-cutter
retail: bars/shops
family friendly
medical access: Meridian + St V
school system
Monon Trail
Some unique retail
Target instead of Wal Mart
Jordan Y
North Central
Proximity to 465
First Baptist Athletics, Dynamo
Monon Trail
Local business, retail
Vibrant, engaged neighborhoods
Cultural, generational diversity
school system
monon trail
Nora Plaza
trees and neighborhood character
increasing restaurant options
accessibililty to Indpls and suburbs
accessibility north and south by bike on Monon
Target location
Trees, character
Walkability, sidewalks
central location
monon trail
diversity of housing stock
monon trail
sidewalk on 86th St.
diversity of neighborhoods, ages
St. Vincent
Proximity of restaurant options
Wash Twp Schools
Location, proximity to shopping, dining
trees and wildlife (ecotherapy)
proximity to downtown and interstate
clean properties
close to, but removed from highway
Monon Trail
Longtime residents
Hospitals close by
Shopping nearby
Variety of industries
Monon Trail
Strong community
Diverse population
Reasonable retail/business base
The Monon
General location
NCC, Nora Alliance
Convenient to 465
Post office
groceries, shopping
Monon Trail
long term residents
shopping nearby; keystone at the crossing
near 465
private and public schools
homes often in wooded areas, large lots
good home value
Monon Trail
North Central
close to everything
First Baptist sports
abundance off grocery options
Fashion mall, commons
Monon Trail
Plenty of grocery options
Lots of housing options
superior schools
active community involvement
single family homes
quick stop shopping
Needs (all comments)
Access to Monon Trail (from neighborhoods)
Soundproof wall on 465
ability to walk across 86th
traffic on 86th
promotion of hidden jewel that is Nora
Additional school (charter or cfi)
Developers who will maintain or create value
Better traffic flow
Charter school?
city water, sewers
flood abatement in n’hoods next to 465
public areas: parks and other spaces
improvements in alternative transportation
sidewalks and crosswalks
community garden
traffic calming
community garden
sidewalks, streetlights, city water and sewer across the board
improved traffic flow on 86th
noise reduction from i465
improved drainage from i465
need improved stoplights on 86th/haverstick
footwalk to monon from neighborhoods (91st/Haverstick)
more effective partnership w city
plan for streets and infrastructure
guided development of residential and commercial
more people
defined plan of physical environment e.g. where should the apartments be
Identity, branding, placemaking
definitions of acceptable levels of rental density
maintenance of high quality schools
community engagement
cross-culture engagement
maintenance of our existing infrastructure/Monon
safe pedestrian access on thoroughfares
village/city center
reliable city services
better traffic flow
better walking access to points of interest
city center
walkability, safety – (along 91st St.)
infrastructure (sewer, updated power)
connectivity between neighborhoods
refugee population integration
refugee population integration
better connectivity
community center
need to have feeling of safety
Desires (all comments)
91st St for ‘local only’
Monon trail – haverstick to westfield
wildlife preservation
fewer lights, more roundabouts
crosswalk for NC
no more retail business development between Keystone and Westfield Blvd (northside of 86th)
community center/hub focused place for community functions
sound barrier from 465
public transportation improvements
gathering place
better communication (newspaper?); what’s going on at the Y, St Lukes, WTSC?
guided, cooperative development
Village Center
small homes (like walden) (96th behind Sherwood Forest, 86th and Haverstick)
school choice
monon overpass on 86th
noise abatement
form based code (as opposed to zoning code by use)
identifiable event as “Nora” event
Strong neighborhood groups that are open and positive
preserve and encourage economic diversity
Public space/parks
access to monon trail from neighborhoods
non-commercial civic plaza
sidewalk connectivity – library to North Central; n’hoods to trail
development that is pedestrian oriented; oriented toward trail
redevelopment of nora center (Marsh)
public transit downtown – improved
fewer chains; more local/unique businesses
parks for children
more roundabouts
more complete infrastructure
a gathering place
community events and space
more culturally inclusive events
better inter-city transit

Nora Keystone Gateway: Preliminary Design #1

This summer community members met with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) for the Nora Alliance’s first meeting to capture public input regarding Nora’s Keystone & 86th Street Gateway.

Check out the PRELIMINARY DESIGN provided by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc and CEC, Inc. We’d like to have your input!

Items discussed at July 2015 public meeting:

 Appearance of space
 Keep canopy
 Examine range of improvements
 Improve connectivity (accommodate future improvements)
 Wildflowers
 Public Art (North Central Students?)
 Clean up trash
 Improved signage
 Neighborhood identity
 Improve lines of sight
 Incorporate INDOT trees

Preliminary design preparation thoughts:

  1. Improve manicured edge/INDOT required buffer – 20’ +/‐
  2. Accommodate future pedestrian connector

‐ Maintain a 25’ +/‐ manicured edge on north and south sides of 86th Street or approximately to top of sloped concrete wall and under power lines on south side
‐ Include area between north and southbound Keystone

  1. Identify invasive species and remove including Mulberry, Hackberry, Honeysuckle, etc.
  2. Contact INDOT to discuss influencing bridge color?
  3. Clean out invasives behind northbound exit ramp guardrail

Preliminary design initial phase (2015) thoughts:

1. See attached plan

Preliminary design future phase thoughts:

  1. Investigate topography for wet areas to create streambed landscape
  2. Incorporate limestone block “welcome to Nora” signs into landscape + accent stone – walls?
  3. Upgrade guardrails to painted – black?
  4. Upgrade signals and signal poles?
  5. Wayfinding – shopping, library, park, school, etc?…there is a N.C. sign on the northbound ramp

Given the scope, this is going to be a longer term project with the hope of having some initial quick wins as the construction wraps up.

Project background:

The Keystone Avenue Bridge at 86th Street, currently under construction, serves as a gateway to the Nora community. However, the bridge, exit ramps, and surrounding land have been neglected for years, collecting trash, invasive plants, and the occasional homeless person camping out in the overgrown wooded areas. With the current construction of the Keystone Bridge, we have an opportunity to give this area a facelift. Read the post “Nora’s 86th St / Keystone Bridge Gateway Beautification Project” for more about the project’s background.

Nora Alliance July 2015 meeting with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Nora Keystone Gateway: 1st Meeting with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

On July 20th, community members met with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) for the Nora Alliance’s first meeting regarding Nora’s Keystone & 86th Street Gateway. This is a summary of that meeting, and invitation for continued public input.

The Keystone Avenue Bridge at 86th Street, currently under construction, serves as a gateway to the Nora community. However, the bridge, exit ramps, and surrounding land have been neglected for years, collecting trash, invasive plants, and the occasional homeless person camping out in the overgrown wooded areas. With the current construction of the Keystone Bridge, we have an opportunity to give this area a facelift. Read the post “Nora’s 86th St / Keystone Bridge Gateway Beautification Project” for more about the project’s background.

KIB’s Mark Adler, Janet Baker, and planner David Roth led the group in a review of the Keystone Bridge construction and opportunities for a beautification project. Mark Adler presented information on the current conditions of the interchange and construction (scheduled for completion in the late fall 2015), followed by an open discussion. Here’s what we heard:

  • current construction remediation requires tree replacement, but without maintenance plans — this is an opportunity to segue with a beautification project and community-driven design
  • community desire to preserve existing tree canopy for noise reduction and wildlife
  • public art – look at concepts and location within the interchange
  • create vegetated edge plantings
  • reduce or eliminate mowings with native platings wildflowers and tall grasses
  • improved signage for the interchange
  • plan / public art that embraces the strengths and weaknesses of the interchange (e.g., power line structures, the community history)
  • homelessness, pan handlers and drug use are past and/or current issue
  • open up line of sight at ramp exits / lights
  • honeysuckle in the area (invasive species)
  • traffic noise affecting nearby residential
  • soil may be compressed in construction staging areas
  • don’t create any plans that preclude a future sidewalk / bike path under Keystone Bridge
  • need more community input on gateway concept – gateway to where? Nora community / neighborhoods (west)? Keystone businesses (east)?
Next Steps

KIB, with planner David Roth, will take the feedback they’ve gathered during this first meeting and put together some preliminary plans for the interchange. Within the next few weeks, the Nora Alliance will schedule a second public meeting to present and provide further input to the plans. With plans in hand, KIB will work with the community to identify funding for the project implementation and maintenance.

We welcome continued feedback during this process! If you would like to provide additional input while the plans are being developed, please contact Mark Adler, KIB Director of Special Projects.




Tree Planting Plan - 1-29-15

Nora’s 86th St / Keystone Bridge Gateway Beautification Project

What would a nice gateway to Nora look like? With your help, we will work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to answer that question.

The Keystone Avenue Bridge at 86th Street, currently under construction, serves as a gateway to the Nora community. However, the bridge, exit ramps, and surrounding land have been neglected for years, collecting trash, invasive plants, and the occasional homeless person camping out in the overgrown wooded areas. With the construction of the Keystone Bridge, we have an opportunity to give this area a facelift.

Project Background
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was contacted a few times in the past year or two by neighbors in the Nora community asking if they could do anything to help with beautifying the ugly Keystone Bridge at 86th Street interchange. They were exploring the idea, then the bridge construction came up offering some opportunity to get engaged. The Nora Alliance will organize two community meetings in mid-July and August to help Keep Indianapolis Beautiful gather input on design plans for the interchange, with the following objectives:
  • to engage the Nora community in proactive planning with the assistance of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
  • to help address the homeless population that are living in this area from time to time
  • to meet the community wants and needs with a design based on community input
  • to determine what gets put in place in areas that have already been cleared by the construction process
  • to determine how to maintain wildlife / greenspace as desired by the community
  • to determine a tree maintenance plan so newly planted trees are maintained and thrive after construction crew is gone (these do not otherwise have a maintenance plan, and trees often die after the construction phase)
  • to work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to help in the planning and design phase, and then in seeking funding to implement the plan

The goal for the July meeting is for a designer to capture what is important to the community at this space so a design can be created. The goal for the August meeting is for the designer to come back with a rough drawing capturing feedback from July and gather final feedback before getting a solid plan to go forth with.

Dates and times for the meetings are still being determined. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about the project. Stay tuned for more information!

Off-street trail in Nora, Indianapolis

Nora’s College Avenue Trail Approved and Funded

We learned this week that the College Avenue Trail in Nora has been funded as part of the RebuildIndy 2 projects. While the project was originally approved, it lost its funding and was cancelled last winter. Recent funding was acquired and the project was again added to the list of approved projects announced last week.

The project will provide a safe pedestrian off-street trail along this often congested section of College Ave. that has no sidewalks or shoulder.

RebuildIndy is Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiative to restore deteriorating streets, sidewalks and bridges as well as address neighborhood drainage and flooding issues. This investment continues to transform neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.

Getting an off-street pedestrian trail or new sidewalks in a community can take years of hard work. Indeed, for the past 3- to 4- years several people in Nora have been advocating for an off-street trail along College Avenue between 86th Street and 91st Street. Some of the people involved in spearheading the trail include George Robinson, former athletic director at First Baptist Church, Barry Wood, and members of Hope Church. It serves as an example of what community pro-active planning can achieve.

Early details on the project are provided by Benjamin Easley, Public Information Officer / Department of Public Works:

  • This project will indeed be bid for construction in July and completely built by the end of the year.
  • The College Avenue Trail will be an off-street asphalt trail similar to the one on 91stStreet.  The trail on 91st Street narrows down to a sidewalk at 91st/College
  • There will be a crosswalk connection at the signal at 91st/College.
  • The College Ave trail will be on the west side of the road.
  • There will be pedestrian signals at 86th/College as well as 91st/College.

Thanks to ReBuildIndy, DPW, and all the people involved in making this trail happen.

Indiana daylight savings time map eastern vs. central time zone

How Is Your Morning? It Would Be Brighter On Central Time

If you awoke (in the dark), got your kids off to the bus stop (in the dark), made it to work (in the dark), and thought to yourself (in the dark), “I really hate this Daylight Savings Time,” you might just be a fan of Hoosiers for Central Time and the Central Time Coalition.

You see, it’s not necessarily Daylight Savings Time to blame, rather that we observe Eastern Daylight Savings Time instead of Central Daylight Savings Time (Indiana’s geographically correct time).

The mission of the Central Time Coalition is to promote the allocation of available sunlight and darkness in a manner that provides the greatest peace, safety and well-being to the citizens of Indiana. Specifically, the coalition supports Central Standard Time in winter and Central Daylight Time the remainder of the year. Their website is a call to action to the Indiana legislature to finish the job and get Indiana on the “right” time. It is packed with facts about the impact of Eastern time on Indiana, links to studies, and an online petition to show your support Hoosiers for Central Time (also on twitter).

The graph below compares how many sunrises Indianapolis would have before 7am on Eastern time (120 days) versus Central time (315 days).

sunrise graph Indiana daylight savings time comparison

Sunrise before 7am


Whether you are a fan of daylight savings time or not, some humor might help you going in the early morning darkness. Here’s comedian John Oliver ripping Daylight Saving Time on HBO’s Last Week Tonight.


Road Construction: Keystone Ave. Bridge Over 86th St.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) is planning a bridge maintenance project for Keystone Avenue over 86th Street. The project includes improvements to the existing north- and south-bound bridges and approaches.

The existing bridge super and substructure will remain in place. The bridge deck will be removed and replaced (and widened). DPW indicated Keystone Avenue will remain open, with lane restrictions throughout the project.

Estimated Start Date: April 14th, 2015
Estimated Completion Date: October 2015

New bridge railings will be installed, of similar style as existing. No work on the 86th St. underpass is included in the project. DPW staff have indicated that the existing structure does not preclude future 86th St. pedestrian access that may be developed by other projects.

About RebuildIndy

RebuildIndy is Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiative to restore deteriorating streets, sidewalks and bridges as well as address neighborhood drainage and flooding issues. This investment continues to transform neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.

These projects create local jobs and increase public safety for neighborhoods and residents, which supports Mayor Ballard’s commitment to make Indianapolis a more livable city.

For more information:

RebuildIndy Project Information
(317) 327-2656 •


If You Could Design Nora’s Future Parks…

What would it look like?

Indy Parks Begins 5-Yr Master Planning: Washington Township

On March 4th, 2015, Indy Parks kicked off their master planning process for Washington Township. While the master plan will be for the entire city, their approach will be to look at each township individually.

Now is the time to get involved in the process for Washington Township!

Indy Parks Master Plan

The parks department evaluates the path their extensive park system will take every five years. The goal of this project is to engage the community, leadership and stakeholders in a meaningful and innovative public input process to build a shared vision for parks and recreation that supports the economic and community goals of the City of Indianapolis. PROS Consulting is a nationally recognized firm, headquartered in Indianapolis and will lead Indy Parks to a great sustainable plan to move forward.

The duration of the project from start to finish is 10 months with an anticipated completion date by December 2015.

This is a community-input driven process and the outcome and future recommendations will be driven by the needs and vision articulated by the community members.

Through the ‘Participate’ section on the Plan Indy Parks website –, you can provide open ended suggestions, respond to the online survey, know the dates for open public meetings and even share feedback through social media on Facebook and Twitter.


Light Cafe

The Light Cafe is a public cafe, run by the students of the J. Everett Light (JEL) Center!

When you eat at the Light Cafe, you are directly supporting the Culinary Arts program at North Central High School – J.Everett Light Center. Here students learn Advanced Culinary Techniques, Protein Fabrication, Artisanal Breads, Regional Desserts, Global Cuisine, Restaurant/Hotel Management, and Entrepreneurship.

The JEL Light Cafe is located at 1901 E. 86th Street, on the east side of JEL (adjoining North Central High School). As you pull into the JEL campus, go around the parking lot and follow signs towards the back of JEL. You will see designated parking signs for the Light Cafe.

The Light Cafe is open to the public during the school year on Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week.  The hours are 7:30 AM – 1:00 PM with breakfast and lunch menus available for dining in or carry out. Menus change regularly – see the Light Cafe website for the latest menu.


Photo credit: Light Cafe website