Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron held a virtual State of the Town address March 3 at Town Hall. In a partial Q&A format, she touched on projects around town and answered questions submitted by local residents. The questions were read to her by Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Allyson Gutwein.
Styron began by discussing economic development, beginning with the construction of the new Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Creekside Corporate Park.
“To have a new business that’s bringing 70 jobs into our town and to watch it come into being, it’s just thrilling,” Styron said. “It looks so good, and it’s very exciting to see new energy and new prosperity coming to Creekside Corporate Park.”
Styron then touched on a major goal of her administration: Improving the Zionsville Gateway Area. She acknowledged progress – for a host of reasons — has been slow.
“It really was something I wanted to make sure we rectify,” Styron said. “There’s a reason that area hasn’t been redeveloped, and that’s because it has a lot of complicated environmental issues, a lot of roadways coming together. It’s not an easy place to just drop in redevelopment.”
But with the demolition of the PNC bank building and locksmith shop at the northwest corner of Main and Sycamore Streets in 2020, the town took its first steps toward redeveloping the entryway.
Styron credited the READI Grant for easing the process of redeveloping the Zionsville entryway. The READI Grant, or Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative, created by Gov. Eric Holcomb, is a governmental program that uses federal money to help accelerate community development in the state.
The grant is also being used to tie the Zionsville Gateway Area project with other projects that are under way, such as the Rail Trail expansion, which Styron sees as a way to connect with the central Indiana regional.
“Part of the READI Grant will enable us to pull together our Rail Trail system all the way into the gateway, down Main Street and eventually hook to 96th Street and the Monon Trail,” Styron said. “That connectivity alone we are really passionate about on a regional level. How can we continue to create these building blocks between these community amenities so that it becomes a regional amenity?”
Styron also mentioned her efforts to turn the 200-acre former Wolf Run Golf Club into a park to be named the Carpenter Nature Preserve.
Styron said after walking through the old Wolf Run golf course, she contacted people she knew who were interested in the environment and eventually reached Nancy Carpenter, who agreed the land should be turned into a park. The Carpenters then agreed to buy the land and will sell it to the town for $1 million less than what they purchased it for. Repurposing the land and raising funds for the town to purchase it is expected to take several years, according to Styron.
Styron also applauded the work of Zionsville’s public safety departments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our police officers and our firefighters, they have not missed a beat,” Styron said. “They are fantastic public servants that we work with daily that keep our community safe, well and healthy. They have so much for us to be grateful for. We are really a fortunate community.”
The State of the Town address can be viewed on Zionsville’s YouTube channel.