In 2018, Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier said the city will focus primarily on public safety and infrastructure initiatives and projects. Residents also will see expanded and enhanced programming in the city’s parks department as well as aesthetic improvements around town with road, sidewalk and streetlight projects in the works.
“First and foremost, and at the top of the list, we will begin construction on the new police station,” Collier said.
The Lawrence Common Council will take its final vote on a resolution to proceed with the project in mid-January. Collier said construction should begin in the summer with a late spring 2019 completion.
The proposed station will house the Lawrence Police Dept.’s 62 merit and 30 reserve officers, along with 31 Explorers and the entire dispatch and 911 communications center.
The police department and Collier announced their initial proposal for the new station to council on Nov. 6, 2017. The proposed site is an approximately 4-acre space from 5140 to 5162 Post Rd., a location known to local residents as the home of the defunct Snafu Saloon. The $12.9 million proposal includes a nearly 37,000-square-foot, two-story police station with a fully equipped basement, a sally port, or small entrance and exit point, for the safe transfer and processing of arrestees; a 2,000-square-foot, detached police vehicle storage and suspect vehicle processing garage; and a parking lot with approximately 150 spaces. The new station also will feature a 112-seat training room to be used by other public safety agencies and community organizations.
Public Safety Day
“We’ll of course again have our ever-growing Public Safety Day, which we’ve now moved the infamous chicken-wing-eating contest (between the police and fire departments) to that day,” Collier said. “We always have a big crowd.”
“We have had several new equipment purchased, including two more battalion vehicles, (and) I believe two ambulances that are going to be purchased this year,” Collier said. “We did also put 12 new police cars in the fleet, and that will just become kind of an ongoing thing. Our police cars won’t get any older than five years. This is the second year of that process, and we’re going to try to get the fleet completely (switched) to Ford Explorer vehicles.”
“We have paving projects that have already been scheduled,” Collier said. “Those will occur as soon as the weather breaks, probably the middle to end of March.”
Two paving projects will take place along two sections of Mitthoeffer Road between 46th Street and Pendleton Pike.
Collier said the city’s sidewalk project is ongoing. It involves going into neighborhoods and fixing heaved sidewalks. A tool called a mudjacker will be used.
“They actually take a hydraulically pumped-in mix of concrete-like material that they can actually drill a hole in the sidewalk, pump it up and even it out,” Collier said. “We started doing that this summer, and we’re still doing it whenever the weather allows us to.”
Mission Mechanical plans to move to Lawrence in 2018. The plumbing, heating and air conditioning company serves the doughnut counties around Marion County.
“We have a couple of major economic development projects happening,” Collier said. “We do have a group moving in the Trades District of Pendleton Pike, Mission Mechanical.”
“There’s one project that I can’t officially announce yet, but if you drive by it, you’ll see it in the works,” Collier said. “Someone is moving in at the corner of 59th Street and Sunnyside Road.”
PARKS & RECREATION
Fort Ben Farmers Market
“We are going to bring back the farmers market again,” Collier said. “It was a big success last year. (It’s) something I think that the residents, especially in (the central) part of the city, appreciate. That will probably grow with some additional produce vendors so we have a more consistent produce presence. The first year of the market struggled the first couple of weeks with getting fresh produce from Indiana. We’ll look at having some come from Kentucky and Tennessee.”
UCI trail study
Earlier this year, UCI did a city-wide trail study for Lawrence.
“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is build trails to link all parts of the city to the city center,” Collier said. “The City of Lawrence, I think, is already in the top five greenest cities in Indiana, so trails aren’t quite as big of a deal to us as they are to some other communities, but we do have some connectivity issues, especially in the northeastern part of the city and connecting it to central Lawrence. The trail study is showing us that we’ll have to add a couple of new trails and purchase some right of way. That could happen as early as this summer.”
Utility rate changes
In May 2017, the City of Lawrence made changes to increase the cost of its utility.
“(The increase) has resulted in several very positive things for the city this year,” Collier said. “No. 1, our utility is back on solid ground, and it will be for the foreseeable future. We were able to get our utility bond rating up from junk bond status to investment grade. That ended up saving us about $2.5 million, which will go right back into the utility. We feel, all of us that were involved in that, very strongly that that will be one of our greatest legacies when we’re done, finally getting our utility on solid ground. It’s been a battle for 15 years, and now we have it out of the political arena.”
Approximately $100,000 of the city’s 2018 operating budget has been set aside for streetlight replacement.
“Streetlights have been ignored for too long in the city, and so we’re catching up and fixing that, which should be a major improvement,” Collier said.
Collier said the older parts of the city are areas in which the most streetlights are out, and those will be the first to be replaced or repaired. Lights also will be replaced with energy-efficient LEDs.
“We’ve already started some of the replacement, and we do it in spurts as the money becomes available,” Collier said. “We think maybe we can get all of our lights replaced by the end of (2018).”
Water tower upgrade
“Kind of a fun thing we’re doing, the water tower that looks like a hot air balloon, that’s going to be stripped and repainted,” Collier said. “It’s going to be a lot brighter.”
Richardt Water Plant
“Richardt Water Plant is being completely rebuilt,” Collier said. “When it’s done, it will be able to supply all the water for the city in just one plant. The nice thing about Richardt is that it sits on top of one of the largest aquifers in central Indiana.”
Sterrett Center remodel
“The Strerrett Center is in the midst of a remodel,” Collier said. “We’re going to paint the outside. The interior will be a major upgrade and remodel.”
Even with the opening of IKEA, TopGolf, Portillo’s, Braden Business Systems and more in 2017, Fishers won’t stop growing in 2018. What follows is a list of developments, construction and projects the city has planned for the New Year.
INTERNET OF THINGS
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness has announced the development of an IoT (Internet of Things) Lab in Fishers on Visionary Way. The lab would be the first of its kind in Indiana and possibly the Midwest.
Internet of Things is the application of internet to various devices, according to the city’s announcement. The lab is estimated to encompass 24,000 square feet with a makerspace and space for meetings and offices.
“We’ll be opening and cutting the ribbon at the Internet of Things Lab in the first quarter,” Fadness said. “Hopefully, we will have a great grand opening next spring. There (are) a lot of really interesting and cool conversations about opportunities the Internet of Things is presenting us.”
The first two restaurants for The Yard, a 17-acre, $40 million culinary district to be built near 116th Street and I-69, were recently announced. St. Elmo Steakhouse subsidiary restaurants Burger Study and 1933 Lounge will set up shop, with a groundbreaking scheduled for the second quarter of 2018. The restaurants have plans to open in 2019.
Craig Huse, co-owner of 1933 Lounge and St. Elmo, said in the city’s social media announcement that Fishers was a natural move for the company.
“1933 (Bar) from St. Elmo is coming to open up shop at (The Yard),” Huse said. “That’s going to be in July of (2019), and not only are we bringing a piece of St. Elmo to Fishers, but we’re also going to open up our adult burger concept at Burger Study.”
St. Elmo isn’t the only big announcement The Yard has planned.
“Next year, we will break ground on The Yard, and between now and the breaking ground we anticipate having several announcements on restaurants and details put around the culinary incubator and accelerator through next year,” Fadness said. “You will see a lot of activity start to happen out there in terms of announcements around The Yard. There’s been a lot of interest and we have a series of announcements about restaurants we feel people in Fishers will be very excited about.”
Fishers residents will see an array of road construction projects next year.
“Next year will be a very busy year in terms of roadwork,” Fadness said. “We have a number of projects people should be aware of.”
- Intersection improvement at 131st Street and Cumberland Road to be a roundabout.
- Intersection improvement at 126th Street and Reynolds/Parkside Drive to be a roundabout with new road extension.
- Intersection improvement at 126th Street and Allisonville Road to be a widened, but still signalized, intersection.
- Intersection improvement at 131st Street and Allisonville Road to be a widened, but still signalized, intersection.
- Intersection improvement at 113th Street and Florida Road to be a roundabout.
- Trail construction on 113th Street from Olio Road to Florida Road.
- Installation of public school zone flashing speed limit sign assemblies.
- Trail construction from downtown municipal complex to Connor Prairie along Lantern Road and 131st Street.
- Intersection improvement at 136th Street and Southeastern Parkway to be a roundabout.
- Various resurfacing projects throughout the city
Other developments expected to continue in 2018 include Knowledge Services and the new police station opening in August. Knowledge Services will break ground at its site near 106th Street and I-69 this year. The $17 million development was announced in June 2017 and is expected to bring 400 jobs to the area.
Plans for the Nickel Plate Trail project announced in February are ongoing. The project is a partnership between Hamilton County, Noblesville and Fishers to transform the Nickel Plate rail line into a 14-foot-wide, paved pedestrian trail that travels 9.2 miles between the two cities.
“We broke a record this year with nearly 2,200 new jobs and $60 million in (capital) investments,” Fadness said. “My goal for economic development (in 2018), it’s a reach, but hopefully we can break that record again. There’s a lot of belief Fishers is the right place to do business, and hopefully that equates to more and more economic activity.”