By Dan Domsic
The Town of Fishers held a redevelopment open house focused on the downtown planning and redevelopment master plan, Downtown Fishers 2030, last week.
Representatives from the town, including Tom Dickey, director of community development, and Rachel Johnson, assistant director of planning, gave a presentation followed up by questions from community members in attendance.
Below are a handful of questions and answers between residents and the town’s representatives summarized for brevity and space constraints.
Q: If we get light rail, where will parking be for a decent cost?
A: Dickey said the town will have to “plug and play” if we get light rail. He said the town has been working with the Metropolitan Planning Organization on various aspects of light rail. There’s an idea that if Fishers was to have light rail, one stop would be in downtown, while another could be located in the area currently held by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport or another location on the north side of Fishers. Dickey also said a parking structure with as many as 800 spots could be a possible solution to parking. Town Councilor Michael Colby was in attendance and weighed in on trying to eliminate the airport, which he is a proponent of, to some criticism.
Q: If light rail comes through Fishers, who will be in charge of policing it?
A: Dickey said light rail is far off, and the Town of Fishers is not looking to sign on for any responsibilities concerning that issue. He said a regional transportation authority ran by a state agency would run it.
Q: The town has had development plans throughout the past 20 years, why hasn’t action been taken?
A: According to Dickey, previous councils handled development differently than today’s current line-up. He said the current council was ready to move and use tools like tax increment funding to attract developers. In summation, he said they were proactive, while previous councils took a reactionary stance to rapid growth and development.
Q: Will there be more stop lights downtown?
A: The master plan calls for new configurations of downtown thoroughfares that cross or work with 116th Street, such as Lantern Road. The number of lights will most likely stay the same; however, they may be redistributed, Fred Prazeau of Context Landscape Architecture, said.
Q: How does the incoming form of government impact planning now? Is there a notion of rushing to get things done before the transition to city or a notion to wait until the new government takes hold?
A: In terms of planning and development, the staff has no plans to sit back until the transition, Dickey said. He said there had not been a directive given to “hustle” and get things done quickly.
Q: Has the town considered re-invisioning and rebuilding downtown East of I-69?
A: There was consideration during an update in 2011 (2011 Town Center Plan) of moving east, but ultimately, the plan cut out moving east, according to Jodi Dickey, senior planner. She said most people in the discussion then felt that “old town Fishers” should be celebrated with the downtown, cutting off the area of consideration at I-69.
Q: Are any anchor companies or “industries” coming into downtown?
A: Dickey said the environment of today won’t lead to big developers like Siemens grabbing up a large chunk of downtown and turning it into something akin to Hamilton Town Center located on Fishers’ north side. He said the town’s downtown focus is set on bringing smaller businesses to the downtown area, as well as giving big businesses a “cool” locale to tour when considering relocation.