Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron was one of five Indiana mayors selected to attend the Columbus Design Institute’s Indiana Main Street: Mayor’s Workshop, a multiple-day virtual event.
The workshop, which was conducted from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10, focused on each municipality’s plan to adapt its main street and downtown for the summer, in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic possibly starting to fade.
Mayors engaged with a team of design and transportation experts while also engaging with one another during breakout sessions. The mayors are expected to present takeaways from the workshop to their communities, though Styron said she was unsure when that will be.
Participating mayors included Jim Lienhoop, Columbus; Rod Roberson, Elkhart; Tom DeBaun, Shelbyville; and Joseph Thallemer, Warsaw.
A team from the institute was invited to Zionsville two months ago as part of its interview process with community leaders to select the mayors chosen to participate, Styron said. She accompanied the team on a lengthy walk around Zionsville, where she explained the town’s plan to reimagine one of the town’s gateways.
Styron said she received technical assistance from designers and urban planners during the workshop on some of the efforts the town is finalizing. Styron also participated in some of the other mayor’s discussions, developing relationships with them while learning new urban planning tools.
“We’ve talked about the walkability,” Styron said. “There was a conversation around what have we learned about traffic patterns and pedestrian mobility, just downtown main street zones. What have we learned through COVID that we can carry into today and the future in our main street business districts?
“We now know more outdoor activities, more outdoor dining, more flexibility, in terms of can you pivot during a timeframe like COVID, how that’s really helped sustain main street businesses.”
Styron said the town plans to consider including more space that will facilitate outdoor events when mapping future urban district designs.