Looking ahead: Zionsville rings in New Year with change, projects underway

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The year 2024 promises to be eventful for the Town of Zionsville.

What follows is a look at what’s ahead for the town in the new year, including welcoming a new mayor and a new principal at Zionsville Community High School and various projects underway.

New leadership

On Jan. 1, Republican John Stehr was sworn in as the new mayor of Zionsville, and Kate Swanson became the town’s new deputy mayor.

“It’s a new year, but 2024 isn’t the only year we should be thinking about,” Stehr said. “I look forward to working with our new town council on ways to enhance Zionsville for many years to come.”

Stehr ran unopposed in the Nov. 7 election in 2023 following the announcement that Democrat incumbent Emily Styron wasn’t seeking reelection.

The town will also see new faces on the town council. They are:

  • District 1: Tim McElderry
  • District 4: Sarah Sampson
  • At-Large: Evan Norris and Joseph Stein

The returning members are:

  • District 2: Jason Plunkett
  • District 3: Craig Melton
  • District 5: Brad Burk

Parks projects

According to Jarod Logsdon, superintendent of Zionsville Parks and Recreation, many projects are in the works for 2024.

Design work and construction of a new concession stand at Mulberry Fields Park at 9645 Whitestown Rd. in Zionsville is set to begin. Amentities will include a concession stand and year-round restrooms. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

Another significant project in the works for the parks department is the design and construction of Phase 1 of Carpenter Nature Preserve. The Town of Zionsville acquired the nature preserve Oct. 5, 2023.

PARKS2
A map of the Master Plan for Phase 1 of the Carpenter Nature Preserve. (Park photos courtesy of Jarod Logsdon)

Phase 1 of the project includes a parking area, a year-round restroom, trails, a nature-based playground, an outdoor classroom, an amphitheater and native plantings. The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

Lincoln Park at 41 S. 2nd St. is getting a design refresh. New construction and upgrades will include improved amenities, reestablished vegetation and enhanced accessibility.

Design will take place this year and construction will begin in 2025.

Rehabilitation of the Turkeyfoot Pedestrian Bridge at 4795 Turkeyfoot Ave. will be completed this year. Construction will improve the wooden approaches to the Turkeyfoot pedestrian bridge.

The Lions Park Elm Street Green Connector Trail at Lions Park at 11053 Sycamore St. will be in the design and construction phase in 2024. The goal is to extend the Eagle Creek Greenway trail by connecting Elm Street Green to Lions Park, which is already linked to Creekside Nature Park. Construction is expected to be completed in 2025.

Zionsville Community Schools

According to Janet Mann, chief marketing and communications officer for Zionsville Community Schools, a new principal is one of the most significant changes the school system will see in 2024.

Zionsville High School’s current principal, Tim East, who has been in the ZCS school district since 2002, will retire at the end of the school year.

His wife, Jenni East, who has worked for ZCS since 2000, will also retire from her position as a Zionsville Middle School teacher at the end of the school year.

Tim East was previously the principal of Eagle Elementary and Zionsville West Middle School before beginning his principalship at ZCHS in 2010.

“The Zionsville community has been a special place for our family and will always be the place we call home,” Tim East stated. “Jenni and I feel very blessed that we have been able to pour into the lives of others in the community that has been so instrumental in shaping the lives of our own now adult children.”

Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Coffman is in the process of recruiting the next ZCHS principal.

“One of the most critical things we do is the recruitment and selection of outstanding teachers and school leaders,” Coffman stated. “The high school principalship is a unique role in our organization, and we will be using a process inclusive of stakeholder voices to select the best person to be the next leader of Zionsville Community High School.”

Tim East said the community can expect ZCS to focus on the discipline of reading at the elementary school level, rethink the high school experience and finalize an expansion that was in the works throughout 2023.

“Our elementary schools are way ahead of the curve, and in 2024 I think we will continue to see our schools highlighted as exemplars as they lead the way in implementing best practices in the science of reading,” East said. “We finished the academic expansion that fully opened for the 2023 school year, and the last piece is the expansion of our locker room facilities beginning this summer. Opening up the locker room facilities at the stadium will allow us to reconfigure the parking lots.”

Zionsville Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director of the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Mike Hanlon said residents can look forward this year to the chamber’s three signature events: Brick Street Market, the Zionsville Street Dance and Christmas in the Village.

“We are excited (these events) will return in 2024, thanks in large part to our continued close collaboration and partnership with the Town of Zionsville,” Hanlon said. “We are looking forward to working together with Mayor John Stehr and his team on initiatives that further promote economic development and elevate Zionsville’s profile as a destination of choice to live, work and play.”

Construction projects

INDOT recently launched 421forward.com, a website to update the public on the 421 Forward project, on U.S. 421 between Greenfield/Templin Road and C.R. 300 South/ 146th Street.

The project will address driver and pedestrian mobility needs. According to INDOT, roadway improvements are anticipated, including pavement rehabilitation, added auxiliary lanes, intersection improvements, pedestrian facilities and storm drainage enhancements.

421 Forward is in the early stages, with design starting in 2024 and continuing through 2026. Through the summer of 2025, the 421 Forward team will conduct detailed analyses of accident data, traffic counts and environmental elements for roadway improvements along U.S. 421.

INDOT is coordinating with Boone County and the Town of Zionsville on recommendations. A design is set to be drafted in the spring.

The Town of Zionsville approved funding in the 2024 budget for the initial phase of an Oak Street pathway corridor. However, the specific location has yet to be identified.

In the spring of 2023, the Department of Public Works started a pathway corridor study along Oak Street to explore options to add multi-use pathways. The study corridor spans Oak Street from the Blackstone subdivision on the west end to C.R. 950 E. on the east end.

Several other construction projects are in progress and will be completed this year. Pathway projects include:

  • West side of C.R. 875 E.
  • South side of C.R. 400 S.
  • Big-4 Rail Trail to and from Trailside Elementary
  • Big-4 Rail Trail to and from Hampshire
  • North side of Mulberry Street
  • South side of Whitestown Road

Other projects

According to Public Information Officer Amanda Vela, several development projects are in the works for 2024, including:

  • Leadership is continuing with a design for South Village. Engineering and construction will begin in 2024, and the project will continue the READI 2.0 process.
  • The Community and Economic Development Department will engage stakeholders as a new Comprehensive Plan is formed.
  • Creekside Corporate Park has offers on three lots, and the RDC is entertaining interested parties for other lots.
  • Wild Air Farms development will work through the Plan Commission and the TIF request process.
  • The Bradley Ridge development will continue working through the Plan Commission.

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