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Indy residents voice opinions on revamping the White River

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) -- Plans are underway to breathe new life into the White River.

Indianapolis city officials have been trying for nearly a decade to revamp the image of the river.

Wednesday, residents had a chance to voice their opinion on what they would like to see changed at the first of three public open houses to discuss the future of the White River.

The White River Vision Plan is a community driven initiative that aims to enhance 58 miles of the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties. 

"We want to hear what's important to them," said Emily Mack, the Director of the Department of Metropolitan Development with the City of Indianapolis. "What do they really value? What do they want to see happen? What is important to them to see preserved and enhanced. But also, what do they want to see added? What do they see not only for themselves but also for future generations."

About 75 people packed a small room inside Noblesville City Hall Wednesday night.

"I wouldn't mind if we had a restaurant or some sort of entertainment venue along the river. I wouldn't want it to be over done," Kitty O'Doherty explained. "I can just take a path from my neighborhood down to the river. So, I'm just kind of curious what ideas are planned, because I think some progress is really good. But, I'm concerned about environmentally. The path I go down to the river is beautiful and scenic, and people fish. So, I just want to see what it's about." 

While some residents like O'Doherty are open to changes, others like Jim Flanders are not so sure.

Flanders farms nearly eight miles along the river and says bringing more people to the area, could have dangerous consequences.

"I think we take pretty good care of it," said Flanders. "In developed areas like Carmel, they can do what they need to do with it. But, it's not safe to have things along our property. I've almost ran over folks out in our field." 

The project includes three phases and will study roughly one mile on either side of the 58 mile stretch of water.

Phase one is called the 'discovery' phase, which is currently underway. This phase looks to analyze the area, determine the water quality and identify current land ownership along the river. 

The second 'envision' phase, taking place from July 2018 to December 2018, will pinpoint areas for potential development.

The third 'action' phase will look at the legality of adding attractions to the area. That portion of the project will go from Dec. 2018 to April 2019.

"People always say 'well we don't have oceans and we don't have mountains.'" explained Mack. "They kind of feel sorry for us, right? I always say but we have this incredible resource. We have this wonderful waterway that runs right through our county. Let's capture that!" 

There are two open houses left. They both take place Thursday in Indianapolis. 

  • Paul J. Norman Center, Marian University, July 12, noon-1:30 p.m.
  • Riverside Park Family Center, July 12- 6-8 p.m.

The project is a joint effort between the City of Indianapolis and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. in partnership with Visit Indy’s philanthropic arm, Tourism Tomorrow, Inc.


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