NORA2021-SLIDE

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.

LAND

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).

 

THIS SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED. VIEW THE RESULTS.

 

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
traffic
schools, tipped over to
lack of alternative transportation options
traffic
sidewalks
identity
negative & ignorant attitudes toward immigrants, refugees (reference: many success stories)
traffic
lack of sidewalks, bikability, walkabiltiy
ineffective public transit
community center/focus
lack of sidewalks
mobility issues
traffic
lack of center
sidewalks
walkability and bikability
transit
parks
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
traffic
glut of apartments
traffic
condition of roads, streets
run down apartments
No center attraction other than a strip mall
No parks
sidewalks
few sidewalks
no parks
minimal street lighting
lower standards in schools teaching to lowest common denominator (ESL students)
traffic/congestion
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
Schools
86th St. corridor
Monon Trail
St. Vincent
Monon Trail
Local Flavor
Brand Businesses
Convenience
Inside 465
the foundation of a heart of nora (high probability of success)
Economic power: income
transportation
density
restaurants and businesses
school density
jordan y
Ease of commute
character of homes
library
cultural diversity
age diversity
schools
trail
target plus local shops
location
safety?
character, not cookie-cutter
library
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
Schools
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
Library
Location
Trees, character
Walkability, sidewalks
convenience
central location
monon trail
diversity
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
diversity
trees and wildlife (ecotherapy)
proximity to downtown and interstate
safety
clean properties
close to, but removed from highway
Monon Trail
schools
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
banks
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
ymca
library
North Central
trees
close to everything
First Baptist sports
abundance off grocery options
Fashion mall, commons
465
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
walkability
connectivity
Sidewalks/walability
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?
Sewers
city water, sewers
sidewalks
flood abatement in n’hoods next to 465
public areas: parks and other spaces
improvements in alternative transportation
sidewalks and crosswalks
community garden
sidewalks
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
sidewalks
sidewalks
sidewalks
better walking access to points of interest
city center
walkability, safety – (along 91st St.)
infrastructure (sewer, updated power)
identity
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
sidewalks
fewer lights, more roundabouts
crosswalk for NC
no more retail business development between Keystone and Westfield Blvd (northside of 86th)
parkland
walkability/connectivity
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
sidewalks
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
parks 
more complete infrastructure
a gathering place
community events and space
more culturally inclusive events
better inter-city transit
Nora-CompPlan2005

Indy’s Comprehensive Plan and Nora’s Critical Areas

The Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005, defines several Critical Areas in Washington Township. New development proposals are measured against this plan. Here we zoom-in on Nora, and highlight our three most Critical Areas as defined by that plan.

 

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP CRITICAL AREAS

Critical Area 1

Location: 86th Street between Meridian Street and College Avenue.

Why critical: This portion of 86th Street is primarily residential in nature, and includes two churches in the area. The residential areas are under development pressure from commercial expansion. If commercial development were allowed on any of these parcels, several more parcels on 86th Street could be in line to convert to commercial development as well. It is critical to protect the existing residential nature of this portion of 86th Street from any commercial development encroachment.

Recommendations:

  • Restrict commercial development from this portion of 86th Street and its cross streets as shown on the plan.
  • Any new development should be sensitive to the existing high water table, and lack of adequate drainage. No new development should occur without sewer hookups that include additional capacity to allow surrounding properties to hook up. Storm water runoff should be controlled by the use of retention or detention ponds where applicable.
  • If the church at 8600 North College Avenue relocates and the site is not occupied by another Special Use, this site should be developed as a park if feasible. If a park is not feasible, the residential housing in the density of 3.5 to 5.0 units per acre should be developed with some land set aside for open space. There is a critical need for parkland in this area. Commercial development should not occur on this site.
  • The Land Use recommendation for the southeast corner of 86th and Meridian Streets is residential development greater than 5.00 and equal to or less than 8.00 units per acre. The preferred form of this land use recommendation is condominiums. Should this site be developed according to this land use recommendation, it should conform to the following:
    • It is recommended that all twelve parcels be developed in a compatible way, as one project if possible, and avoid piecemeal development.
    • Design of the buildings on site should be respectful of, and in character with, the quality of nearby residential structures. This includes building height, setback requirements, enclosed attached parking, drainage, location of services, low level signage, and lighting contained on site.
    • Conservation of the surrounding trees and the trees on the Meridian Street and 86th Street frontages is of particular importance. These should be adapted into any future development plans for the site, whether as one development, or as parcels are developed individually. Large, native trees are of special concern.
    • Sidewalks should be provided.
    • All parcels should share a single exit/entrance on 86th Street, and a singleexit/entrance on Meridian Street.
    • Residences should face outward, towards Meridian Street and 86th Street withvehicular access to the rear.
Critical Area 2

Location: North side of 86th Street between Cholla Road and Keystone Avenue.

Why critical: The north side of 86th Street is primarily residential in nature. The residential areas are under development pressure from commercial expansion. There is no significant barrier west of Keystone Avenue to stop the process of commercial encroachment on 86th Street. If commercial development were allowed on any of these parcels, several more parcels on 86th Street could be in line to convert to commercial development as well. It is critical to protect the existing residential nature of this portion of 86th Street from any commercial development.

Recommendations:

  • Restrict retail and office development to the south of 86th Street, and east of Woodfield Crossing Boulevard as shown on map.
  • Retail and office development should not encroach upon areas of existing or planned residential development.
  • If the church at 2720 East 86th street relocates and the site is not occupied by another Special Use, this site should be developed as residential housing in the density of 3.5 to 5.0 units per acre. Commercial development should not occur on this site.
  • The Land Use recommendation for the northeast corner of 86th Street and Haverstick Road is residential development greater than 8.00 and equal to or less than 15.00 units per acre. The preferred form of this land use recommendation is multi-family units. Should this site be developed according to this land use recommendation, it should conform to the following:
    • It is recommended that all five parcels be developed in a compatible way, as one project if possible, and avoid piecemeal development.
    • Design of the buildings on site should be respectful of, and in character with, the quality of nearby residential structures. This includes building height, setback requirements, enclosed attached parking, drainage, location of services, low level signage, and lighting contained on site.
    • Have exit/entrances only on Haverstick Road that line up with the exit/entrances of the church to the west.
    • All parcels should share these exit/entrances whether as one project development or as piecemeal development.
    • Conservation of the surrounding trees is of particular importance. These should be adapted into any future development plans for the site, whether as one development, or as parcels are developed individually.
    • In some places steep slopes greater than 10% exist. These slopes should be minimally developed, if at all, so that they may retain any forest cover and avoid soil erosion.
Critical Area 9

Location: Westfield Boulevard from 79th Street to Oxbow Way

Why Critical: The eastside of Westfield Boulevard is predominantly residential with a few parcels of commercial uses between Helen Drive to the north and 74th Street to the south. North of 75th Street, both sides of Westfield Boulevard are residential. There is some pressure along Westfield Boulevard and throughout the Critical Area to convert existing single-family residential properties to commercial uses or higher intensity residential uses. Contributing factors are the heavy use of the Monon trail, heavy traffic on Westfield Boulevard and expansion of commercial and higher intensity residential land uses from the south out of Broad Ripple. Demolition of multiple, adjacent, existing single-family properties would have a destabilizing effect on the character of the neighborhood. It is critical to protect the residential areas between the Monon Rail-Trail and the river and to avoid the incremental increase of office and commercial uses along Westfield Boulevard.

The significant amount of natural open space and wildlife habitat which remains along the White River and within Marrott Park also contribute to this area’s unique character. A considerable amount of woodland, steep slopes and the 100-year floodplain make it critical that development in this area be sensitive to the environment. Park recommendation in the lower portion of the area has potential to provide good canoe access to the White River. It is critical to provide adequate parkland for existing and future population.

Recommendations:

  • Limit expansion of the non-residential uses that exist near 75th Street and Westfield Boulevard as shown on map. Commercial and industrial development should not encroach upon areas of existing or planned residential development.
  • Develop the vacant parcel in the southern portion of this area as a park as shown on map.
  • Intensification of housing densities should not occur within the 100-year floodplain.
  • Preserve areas in the floodway as conservation areas. Dense vegetative cover along stream banks is important for erosion control, contamination capture, water cooling (critical for retaining oxygen levels) and habitat preservation.
  • The wooded areas designated as Environmentally Sensitive should be preserved.
The Future: Plan 2020

2016 Comprehensive Plan Update: Countywide Update

The full update to the countywide Comprehensive Land Use Plan is being held until 2016.  Internal development of the land use classification system and design of the public process is underway.

Looking Ahead

Plan 2020 seeks to create a unified, countywide comprehensive plan that updates, incorporates, or replaces the existing 135 planning documents.  It will include performance indicators for land use types, providing more clarity about how different uses perform on transportation, economic, tax base, and environmental criteria. The updated plan will focus on keeping and attracting residents to Marion County by planning for 21st century amenities and lifestyles.  Particular focus will be paid to places in the county likely to see change, including transit corridors and cultural districts, and to integrate land use planning with transportation, economic development, Downtown, parks and recreations and strategic public investments.

86th_and_Keystone_Design-CEC-8-5-15-4

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.

RedLine-Nora

Public Meetings on Red Rapid Transit Project

IndyGo will host several public meetings where you can learn about the first phase of Red Rapid Transit Project (which is anticipated to: stretch from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis), ask questions, and have your voice heard during the engineering phase. This August IndyGo representatives will be in the following locations:

  • Aug. 18 – Central Library: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • 40 E St. Clair St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
    • IndyGo Routes 18, 38, & 39
  • Aug. 19 – College Avenue Branch: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • 4180 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205
    • IndyGo Route 17
  • Aug. 24 – Fountain Square Branch: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
    • 1066 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203
    • IndyGo Routes 12, 14, & 22
  • Aug. 26 – Indianapolis Art Center: 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    • 820 E 67th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220
    • IndyGo Route 18
  • Aug. 27 – IUPUI Campus Center: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
    • 420 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202
    • IndyGo Routes 3, 37, & 50
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:

Opportunities
  • 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)
Concerns
  • 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!

bicycletrax-img_2173

Indy Parks Plan Feedback: What We Heard

Opening & Introductions

Local resident Bob Weaver kicked off the April 28th, 2015, Nora Alliance meeting with introductions and background from the first meeting of the Nora Alliance. We will be soliciting a steering committee to guide the first year of Nora Alliance activities and proactive community planning.

Indianapolis – Marion County Park, Recreation & Open Space 5-Year Plan Community Input

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 look at each township individually. 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.

Tonight we solicited feedback for a community response to the plan. Local resident Jill Saligoe-Simmel gave an overview of Nora-area parks and the Indy Parks planning process, and a discussion followed. The group listed several pros and cons of Nora’s public and private park, open space and recreational facilities.

Idea Gallery

Here’s a summary of what we heard:

  1. The Monon Trail is the prominent feature in our community, however its potential as an anchor feature in the community is not realized to its fullest potential. People identified this as a priority for parks and open space planning, indicating they would like to see more enhancement of the park / greenway as a community asset beyond its use as a recreational thoroughfare. The general consensus is that priority should be placed on a number of small, relatively low cost projects that could be implemented quickly to great effect.
    1. Visually and physically develop the trail from 91st north to at least the YMCA south as the community’s anchor feature, utilizing every available inch of trail ROW for green space, formal and informal gathering spots (i.e., micro-parks), and pocket parks.
    2. Visually and physically develop the Monon Trail at 86th Street road crossing as a safe crossing and community “gateway” feature. Priority should be focused both on addressing immediate safety needs and enhancements with the current crosswalk, as well as developing long-term solutions.
    3. Add public gathering spaces along the trail in this section through land acquisitions and/or joint use agreements for pocket parks adjacent to trail, micro-parks, and potentially a dog park.
    4. Integrate public art into this section of the trail.
    5. Spaces should be inviting, casual, welcoming, and incorporate some small details to surprise/delight/discover (e.g., hidden nooks). Needs to accommodate diverse users, including families with young children, bikers, skaters/rollerbladers, elderly, handicap, etc.
  2. Acquire additional park properties as neighborhood parks to serve families with children. Nora lacks neighborhood parks where families can gather, and kids can run and play.
  3. Implement the Full Circle Greenway Plan 86th/82nd Street Corridor to connect the Monon at 86th Street “gateway” with nearby parks and community assets, such as regional parks and commercial areas (e.g., Town Run Trail Park and Keystone at the Crossing), and planned public transportation projects, e.g., Red Line.
Opportunities

The following opportunities were discussed as community input to the Indy Parks and Open Space 5-Year Plan.

  1. The Monon Trail — Enhance the 86th St. trail crossing
    1. enhance the crosswalk for safety, as well as a visually/aesthetically pleasing community gateway
    2. painted crosswalk? — partner with North Central High School art department to help design and paint a crosswalk as public art, keep it local, show off our colorful community
    3. general maintenance — fix barriers on north side of street and fill pothole in crosswalk
    4. additional landscaping / hardscaping to create a welcoming / enticing environment
    5. improved signage, lighting, and pavement Ped-Xing markings for safety
    6. work with community for long-term plans for a safer crossing solution, e.g., trail bridge and/or other enhanced pedestrian crosswalk solution with traffic calming measures, etc.
  1. The Monon Trail — Develop Micro-Parks and Pocket Parks
    1. develop the small slice of land on trail next to Marsh building (DMD property parcel #8036430)
      1. ideas include: picnic tables, benches, game/chess tables, swing, bike racks, shelter (long and narrow building?) similar to shelter in Broad Ripple, water station, evergreen landscaping
      2. wheelchair accessible connection between south side of parcel and parking lot
    2. incorporate public art along trail – local artisits? sculptures?
    3. explore park partnership with the Indiana Blind School for expanded property access at Monon Trail for pocket park
  1. Explore opportunities to expand existing Indy Parks / IPL joint use agreement on IPL property adjoining the east and west sides of the Monon Trail at 91st St. This property houses a power substation, and although not ideal as park space, the community should be creative in capitalizing on any available open space.
    1. leverage existing Indy Park use agreements, e.g., trail parking lot and paths already in place (there was historic use as softball fields to the south of substation – now retirement apartments) to develop low-impact / non-competing park use on lands adjacent to the trail
    2. ideas include: dog park, skate park, small playground and benches near trail on south side of parking lot, micro-park trail rest stop, small stage for community music in the parks, community gardens, …
    3. property on east side of trail is less developed and has a creek – could it incorporate a low intensity park use? picnic shelters?
    4. explore possibilities with the community
  1. Explore every remaining opportunity to acquire property for neighborhood and pocket parks
    1. there are a few very opportunities left of private undeveloped property in Nora. These should be immediately explored, and if possible acquired, before there are simply no more opportunities left
    2. ideas: property to the north of Marsh only accessible from the Monon Trail? property (which includes woods and floodplain) on 86th St. north of North Central High School? Shortees Golf Course (if it doesn’t get zoning change approval for proposed development)?
  2. Explore enhanced park entrance / access point for Marott Park on Monon Trail side
  3. Explore possible new park entrance / access point for Town Run Trail Park in partnership with Central Indiana Land Trust and its proposed headquarters at Oliver’s Woods
Fill Out the Indy Parks Survey

We encourage you to fill out the Indy Parks Community Input Survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IndyParks

We’re Not Done Yet

The ideas and input represent who we’ve heard from thus far. What are your ideas for parks, greenways and open space in Nora? What are your priorities? Comment below, or on Facebook, or Twitter (#noraparks), and let us know what you would like to see.

 

Westfield@87th

Walkability High on Nora’s Wishlist

Walkability is high on the list of priorities identified by attendees of the first Nora Alliance meeting – nearly half (48%) of the submitted comments revolve around sidewalks, trails, pedestrian connectivity, safe routes and walkability.

Safe communities are livable communities. Here we focus on a few of the critical safety concerns – our arterial roads – that call out for complete streets in Nora.

A Critical Safety Issue

A 2014 report, Dangerous by Design, by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition finds that ‘incomplete’ streets are a major culprit in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Arterials designed only for cars, such as Ditch Road, College Avenue, and Westfield Boulevard in Nora, are the most dangerous.

Westfield Blvd needs complete streets
Westfield Blvd needs complete streets walkable bikeable

We’ve all seen it – school kids, families, elderly, handicapped, bikes, cars and buses sharing some of the same Nora streets every day (and night). There are a few particular offenders. These are arterial streets near schools, churches, shopping, and bus stops, having typically 40-MPH speed limits and no shoulder. The lack of sidewalks and/or off-street multi-use paths poises serious concern for pedestrians and motorists alike.

In the United States, in the decade from 2003 through 2012, more than 47,000 people died while walking on our streets. That is 16 times the number of people who died in natural disasters during in the same ten years. In 2012, pedestrians accounted for nearly 15 percent of all traffic deaths, up 6 percent from 2011 and representing a five-year high.

What Do You Think We Need For Nora?

As we work together towards proactive planning and livability issues, let’s look at how to make Nora’s streets safer for everyone.

Last summer (July 2014), City officials reached out and asked for what the public wants to see done.

“So we encourage them to contact their councilors, come with letters for them to sign that we can deliver to their councilors,” said Department of Public Works spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “You know, anything we can do to continue to draw attention to the need for the Rebuild Indy 2 plan and get people excited about it and let them know it’s not going to happen unless they contact their representative.” (WTHR)

If we are asked again, will we have a collective response for the Nora area? Use the comment section below to share your story about walkable / bikeable streets.

nora-alliance-kickoff-meeting_845

Nora Alliance Kickoff Meeting: What We Heard

March 18, 2015, marked the first meeting of the Nora Alliance, aimed at introducing the initiative and identifying interest.

Introductions

Local resident Bob Weaver kicked things off with introductions and a statement of how and why we are coming together as the Nora Alliance. Together, we can take a proactive approach to build community identity, enhance livability and address community issues.

Post-it notes were distributed for people to write down ideas about their wants for Nora.

The power of community-based proactive planning cannot be overstated. We invited Michael McKillip, Executive Director of Midtown Indy Inc., to share Midtown’s experience getting organized, developing objectives and initiatives, and how they are making a difference.

Example from Midtown Indy

Michael McKillip gave an information packed presentation of the work of Midtown Indy, Inc. Through about 165 community meetings since 2006, starting with a handful of interested neighbors, the grass-roots organization has grown to hundreds of volunteers and (just in the last two years) two paid staff.

Key to Midtown’s success has been proactive planning. Midtown has a mix of great neighborhoods, amazing destination public amenities, and its fair share of problems, such as vacancies and blight. The community was tired of reacting to things taking place in their geography. Now they are active, not reactive. They asked residents, “Tell us what you want. Where are the problems?,” recalled Michael.

Through a deliberate planning process, Midtown engaged neighbors, businesses, other civic and philanthropic organizations, and the City as partners. They studied the area closely, looking into issues such as the percent of land mass vs. tax generated from their area of the city, demographic trends, community interests, housing stock, transportation assets, public destination amenities, workforce, educational opportunities, and more.

From those studies emerged a plan to stimulate public and private investment to occur in ways that the community wants it. Now those efforts are paying off – thanks to the joint efforts of many. Midtown Indy, Inc. doesn’t claim ownership of all the projects in their community, rather they are dedicated to keeping people connected. As Michael put it, “Midtown owns nothing, and is involved in everything.”

If you’d like to learn more, here’s a timeline of Midtown Indy’s history.

Q & A

Questions and answers followed the Midtown Indy presentation. Here is a summary of what followed:

Herman Habegger, a 55-year resident of Nora, was kind enough to share some history with the group. Herman recounted that in the 1960s there were no good restaurants, 2 gas stations, 1 grocer, 1 hardware, 1 doctor’s office, 1 rail station, 1 small high school, and 1 church. Keystone Ave. (north) didn’t exist. It was largely a farming community, he said, “The growth here has been phenomenal, with a tremendously good culture.” Here, here.

Q: Who did the (Midtown) studies? How was it paid for?
A: Midtown facilitated raising about $145k in the early days from local residents and businesses. They later received some grants. Now funding is a mix split among individuals, business, and philanthropic organizations.

Q: How was Lincoln Square (Chicago) chosen as a model for Midtown?
A: It was based on similar densities. It is important to make the public transit system sustainable.

Q: What are the boundaries of Nora? Do we have distinct neighborhoods (like Midtown)?
A:  Nora has never been an incorporated place. Currently we are following the boundaries that have established by the Nora Northside Community Council. Michael noted when Midtown first got started, most of the neighborhoods wouldn’t have identified as such. He discouraged us from focusing too much on borders, and rather focus on areas with shared interest.

Q: What is the difference between this effort (Nora Alliance) and the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC)?
A: We see them as complimentary. There is a shared interest in seeing Nora thrive. Among other things, the NCC is heavily experienced with zoning issues in Nora. We expect the Nora Alliance will be more heavily involved in engaging and promoting the community and proactive planning. Michael McKillip noted that in Midtown there are other groups that take positions on zoning issues. Midtown doesn’t take a position – if they don’t agree they stay silent. If they agree, they help where they can.

Q: Does Midtown track crime?
A: Yes, but others track crime in detail. Midtown mainly looks at the large scale systemic issues.

Q: I like the “proactive” approach vs. “reactive”. I feel Nora has lacked someone looking at the big picture in terms of a comprehensive plan.
A: Midtown doesn’t look at itself as a broken community, but looks at the systemic problems and how to proactively address them. Midtown/Broad Ripple has recently established the city’s first “form-based” code.

Q: What is going on in some neighborhoods where a (NY) company owns tons of housing?
A: Big investment companies bought up a lot of houses in the last housing bust, particularly in low income areas. Now many are selling them, and the boom-bust cycle may happen again. The City-Cunty Council recently passed a Rental Registry that should help identify rental properties and owners. Unfortunately, there is little neighborhoods can do but try to keep an eye on housing ownership. An important part of the planning process is understanding our housing stock.

Wrap Up

Nora resident Jill Saligoe-Simmel wrapped up the meeting. There are many well organized community groups around Indianapolis that are making an impact similar to what Midtown Indy is achieving. Where these largely grass-roots communities develop a vision and plans for their community, the City is listening (and public/private investment is following). We will build on the interest from this first meeting to begin the process for Nora.

Post-it notes were collected.

Here’s What We Heard – What Do You Want for Nora? (Post-it Comments, unsorted)
  • Improved walking connections
  • Sidewalks on Westfield Blvd. north to 91st St. south to 86th St / YMCA
  • Traffic management of 86th Street
  • Create a community identity and vision
  • Walkability
  • A park or something to gather around
  • Too many apartment complexes
  • Mixed use buildings with pedestrian connections
  • Supportive transit that is safe and comfortable
  • Would like small, nice living for folks who want to downsize
  • Improved Monon trail crossing at 86th St.
  • Safer school crossings at NCHS/Northview
  • Love this area, don’t want to leave, but choices are extremely limited
  • No more apartments, please!
  • Individual housing neighborhoods with ownership
  • Walkable
  • Park / public gathering space
  • More local cafés and restaurants (too many chains)
  • Connect neighborhoods – more walkable
  • Need ideas to get people involved – lack of interest of people in the neighborhoods to volunteer for neighborhood associations, positions on board, or activities in the neighborhood
  • Young families move out when children reach school age – perception/reputation of Nora Elementary
  • Safe walk / bike connection 86th St through Keystone
  • More walk / bike trails
  • Paved access to Monon under high power lines? (east of Monon trail)
  • Overall strategy for development
  • Safety / security – decrease crime
  • Proactive planning
  • Walking trails or sidewalks on busy roads with lots of people walking them – Westfield Blvd (86th to 91st), College (75th to 96th), and Ditch (75th to 86th)