Planners Look At 30th Street's Image

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(posted Apr 21)

Indianapolis City Planners' second neighborhood meeting focused on the 30th Street corridor's image and historical significance. Department of Metropolitan Development Planners Dennis Slaughter and Alice Gatewood gathered input for nearly two hours from about 25 residents and stakeholders in the area at the April 16 meeting.

Slaughter said DMD is looking for old photos that say something about the character of the area from White River to Lafayette Road. The old photos signify what was important and precious to the people.

Part of the workshop included questions about public art and economic development. Wayne Township Trustee David Baird said Cold Spring Road used to be known as Millionaires Road because of the Allison and Stokely mansions. Baird also noted that Eagledale had the first shopping mall in the state.

Baird said that Cold Spring Road and 30th Street would be a good location for public art. Slaughter said public art is important for bus riders and car passengers who are taking up information and developing an impression. He said this group is often forgotten when thinking about locations for public art. He would like to see on-street parking on 30th Street and Lafayette Road to serve as a buffer if pedestrian walks are going to be constructed.

One resident wanted to give Lafayette Road, also known as Highway 52, the same mystique as Route 66. She said that 52 was the road she used to attend Purdue University. Slaughter acknowledged the importance of the road, saying it has been in service since the 1830s or 1840s.

"It is hard to find transportation history," he said. He said that history usually revolves around famous people instead of road systems, which he called a "darn shame." Route 52 starts in South Carolina and extends through Indiana to North Dakota.

Residents again complained about the lack of sidewalks. Sidewalks are sporadic on the north side of 30th Street, with no sidewalks on the south side . State Representative Jeb Bardon vocalized his concern for sidewalks in the area to serve apartment residents and students at Marian College.

The city owns much of the property in the area, with two golf courses straddling 30th Street, so little can be devoted to economic development. Several residents requested the city give more attention to marketing Wilbur Shaw Hill and the soap box derby. Many residents have never attended an event or seen cars race down the hill.

Some residents saw Little Eagle Creek as an asset, but Nada Maynard advised against building in the flood plain because it is experiencing 100 year and 500 year storm events. She said any additional building near the creek will add to the likelihood of flooding. Maynard was vocal about a charter school that had been planned at 3440 Guion Road in 2007. She has lived in the area for fifty plus years and can attest to the flooding from her own personal experiences.

A flood occurred in 1978 that filled her basement and into the main level into her house. She described the event as a flash flood with little warning to evacuate. One neighbor, residing on 32nd Street, stated they had to leave the area by boat in the 1978 flood. Maynard said in 1989, the Department of Public Works constructed a concrete channel to enclose Little Eagle Creek as part of a flood control plan.

Although the channel helped, Maynard said the 2003 Labor Day flood caused raw sewage to flow into area basements. The charter school eventually decided to find a new location.

Maynard said that Flackville School, located at 30th and Lafayette Road, needs to be razed because of its poor condition.

Larry Lawson, retired Ben Davis teacher, said the core of the Ben Davis Band started at Flackville School because the music director lived in the area.

Deb Lawrence of Marian College said the college has no long-term plans for the property it continues to purchase on the northwest side of 30th and Cold Spring Road. Marian College will gain its university status in July.

Residents wanted a gateway to enhance the Riverside area as well as 30th Street serving as a way-finder to the IMS.

Jane Schaedel of Marion County Health and Hospital reminded the group that many international travelers stay in the area for some time and attend the local mosque. She emphasized that the planning needs to be cognizant of how it will reach out to the diverse ethnic groups. "There is a lot of interest in this area by a lot of foreign people that we don't even realize that are around here," she said, adding many are from the Middle East, Libya and Korea.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 14th, 7pm at Ritter High School