Greening will result from SustainIndy -- and a new downtown park would enhance the city

On October 10th, Mayor Ballard announced his SustainIndy initiative and unveiled the first of a series of initiatives designed to improve the green performance of Indianapolis. Specific measures and programs will be unveiled over time, but initially the City plans to implement measures to improve stormwater management through use of wetlands and green roofs, reduce pollution from failing septic tanks, strengthen the curbside recycling program, create bicycle lanes and others.

Our grassroots group has a recommendation for another green action-dedication of a new downtown city park. The 1-acre site on the downtown canal just north of Ohio Street and just east of the Indiana History Center is a prime park site and is publicly-owned, mostly by the state of Indiana.

In 2006, the state declared the property to be surplus and took bids for development. Last year, it began reviewing 2 finalists' proposals for a hotel, but in May of this year, the Indiana Finance Authority announced that it had terminated its review. The reasons for this action are not precisely known, but they're likely a combination of political considerations and financial/market constraints. Governor Daniels is seeking reelection and economic conditions continue to deteriorate, especially recently. Also, Indianapolis has an apparent surplus of hotel rooms.

Canal Park Advocates, a citizens group, has been working on this new park proposal for nearly two years. Mayor Ballard said in March that he supports the idea of a park and, in May, that the City will work with the state on the issue and make a decision in the fall. On October 24th, the City notified us that it would not, after all, make a decision about whether to dedicate a park or promote a developed use, and that it would continue to monitor the situation.

A new Canal Park would ease Indy's parkland deficit as well as support several of the objectives of the city's new Office of Sustainability within the Department of Public Works, including Green Infrastructure Community Projects and Green Economic Development. And recent research by IUPUI's Center for Urban Policy and the Environment is the latest study to link the creation of attractive, high-quality places to our ability to attract and retain the so-called "creative class" of high-skilled workers.

If you would rather enjoy a park on the canal rather than a private commercial building, please contact Mayor Ballard (email: mgrattan@indygov.org) and Governor Daniels (mdaniels@gov.in.gov) to urge them to work together to dedicate a civic space at this prime park site.

For further information, visit the website of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations or call 283-6283.

Clarke Kahlo
Canal Park Advocates
10-26-08