State of the City: Mayor’s annual address reveals upcoming and ongoing projects

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Mayor John Ditslear delivers the annual State of the City address at the Sept. 27 Noblesville Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Harbour Trees Golf and Beach Club. (Submitted photos)

Each year, the City of Noblesville welcomes new, exciting projects, and Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear’s annual State of the City address each September recognizes accomplishments during the past year while also highlighting projects on the horizon.

Ditslear gave the address to a crowded banquet hall at Harbour Trees Golf and Beach Club at the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership luncheon Sept. 27.

DOWNTOWN

Ditslear announced a new initiative – the streetscape master plan. Led by the Noblesville Common Council’s Downtown District Committee and the city’s planning department, Ditslear said the goal is to create a “wow factor” so people know when they enter and leave downtown Noblesville.

“The plan is still in the early stages, but it will extend the downtown borders further out from the square and create a more functional space for cars and people,” Ditslear said.

When talking about the downtown, Ditslear also recognized the city’s creation of the Noblesville Cultural Arts District via the Noblesville Arts Council. Earlier this year, the city was the seventh community named as an Indiana Statewide Cultural District, the only city to be added in 2017.

The city is looking to add bike-sharing locations throughout town.

Ditslear also announced the potential addition of two Zagster bike-sharing locations downtown.

HOUSING

Last year, the city completed a comprehensive study on Noblesville’s housing market, which pointed to needs for more diverse housing and alternatives to single-family homes.

“The initial study created two strategies we are moving forward on,” Ditslear said. “One is the removal of the city’s Architecture Review Board. By removing this board, the city is decreasing staff time and developer costs and becoming more business friendly.

“The other strategy will provide standards for additional housing types as identified in the study. The city will look at all amenities and determine three areas and downtown where we want to focus on housing. From there, we will proactively recruit reputable builders to construct our vision.”

INFRASTRUCTURE

Noblesville will soon break ground on its phosphorus removal plant and expects  construction to be complete within one year.

Ditslear said the project is the result of a federal, unfunded mandate, which will cost the city approximately $9 million.

“This is due to harmful algae blooms impacting fish habitats in the Gulf of Mexico,” Ditslear added.

PARKS

When discussing parks, Ditslear made special mention of the successes of the city’s newest park, Federal Hill Commons.

Federal Hill is the first of Noblesville’s parks to have free, public Wi-Fi, but this winter, it also will be the first to feature an ice skating rink.

“The temporary rink will open daily around Thanksgiving and be available until students return to school in January,” Ditslear said.

Aside from Federal Hill, Ditslear said the city also has worked on two other neighborhood parks – Southside Park and Seminary Park.

“This summer, approximately $250,000 was spent on improvements to Southside Park and the neighboring Southwest Quad neighborhood,” Ditslear said. “New playground equipment and new sports equipment renovated the park, and 1,500 feet of new sidewalks were poured.”

At the end of August, the city’s parks department hosted a public input session to discuss future improvements to be made to Seminary Park in downtown Noblesville.

“The city’s parks and planning departments have worked together to take a fresh look at Seminary Park, its current use and how to improve the park,” Ditslear said. “Potential improvements include landscaping, lighting, an arched gateway and gazebo upgrades. Members of the public provided feedback last month, and our staff is re-evaluating the design with that input. My plan is to begin some form of improvements in 2018.”

Finch Creek Park, on the city’s east side, also is nearing the end of its design phase. Ditslear said the park will be constructed in 2018 to “hopefully” be open later the same year.

“I can’t mention Finch Creek Park without an update on the Noblesville Fieldhouse, the exciting public-private partnership to build a new, $18 million youth sports facility,” he said. “The early action earthwork construction is wrapping up on the site, and the owner of the Fieldhouse has announced an August 2018 opening.”

On Aug. 25, Hamilton County and the city opened the final phase of the Riverwalk project behind the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center. Ditslear announced during the address that the trail would be extended south.

“This additional 1-mile stretch will run from Division Street to Southside Park – meaning the Riverwalk will connect two city parks,” Ditslear said. “The trail will be designed this winter and begin construction next summer.”

The Logan Street Pedestrian Bridge will be constructed just northwest of the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center. (Submitted photos)

Nearby, the Logan Street Pedestrian Bridge is being designed for 2019.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Noblesville Fire Dept. recently replaced its self-contained breathing apparatuses.

“The new equipment is interoperable with other fire departments’ oxygen packs,” Ditslear said. “They provide our firemen with new technology, like a wireless, heads-up display and communications system inside the masks. The frame and harness also were designed like hiking backpacks to be lighter and more comfortable.”

In addition to the new equipment for each firefighter, the department will get a new ladder truck, fire engine and ambulance in early 2018.

Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt stands at the site of the former Firestone plant in downtown Noblesville, which could soon be home to the new police station.

On the police side, Ditslear said discussions of building a new police station at the site of the old Firestone plant are continuing.

“So far, the feedback we have received from council members and the public has been very favorable as to the need,” Ditslear said. “It is our intention, if financing is approved, to begin construction next year for a 2019 opening.”

ROADS

Giving an update on the Ind. 37 project, which will convert all stoplight intersections to roundabouts in Noblesville and Fishers, Ditslear said Noblesville is conducting an engineering survey for the northern portion – Greenfield Avenue to Ind. 38/32.

Ditslear also announced plans to convert the Herriman Boulevard and 146th Street intersection into a roundabout before bringing up Pleasant Street.

“In my opinion, Pleasant Street is just as important as improvements to State Road 37 and is one of our top priorities,” he said. “The Pleasant Street project is vital to creating a connector between the east side and west side of Noblesville while relieving traffic from State Road 32 and through our historic downtown square.”

Ditslear said an environmental impact study for the project began in August and that the city will complete a planning and economic impact study that will include Eighth Street, the Southwest Quad neighborhood and downtown.

“This study helps us prepare ourselves for whatever that potential impact could be with zoning changes, where redevelopment could happen and how to best connect people with downtown,” said Ditslear, adding that the earliest start for the project would be 2019.

Noblesville Street Dept. employees work to resurface and repave a portion of Eighth Street.

In August, the city began its street rehabilitation projects for 2017, which include approximately $1.8 million in road and alley repaving.

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