Nora Alliance July 2015 meeting with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Nora Keystone Gateway: 1st Meeting with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

On July 20th, community members met with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) for the Nora Alliance’s first meeting regarding Nora’s Keystone & 86th Street Gateway. This is a summary of that meeting, and invitation for continued public input.

The Keystone Avenue Bridge at 86th Street, currently under construction, serves as a gateway to the Nora community. However, the bridge, exit ramps, and surrounding land have been neglected for years, collecting trash, invasive plants, and the occasional homeless person camping out in the overgrown wooded areas. With the current construction of the Keystone Bridge, we have an opportunity to give this area a facelift. Read the post “Nora’s 86th St / Keystone Bridge Gateway Beautification Project” for more about the project’s background.

KIB’s Mark Adler, Janet Baker, and planner David Roth led the group in a review of the Keystone Bridge construction and opportunities for a beautification project. Mark Adler presented information on the current conditions of the interchange and construction (scheduled for completion in the late fall 2015), followed by an open discussion. Here’s what we heard:

  • current construction remediation requires tree replacement, but without maintenance plans — this is an opportunity to segue with a beautification project and community-driven design
  • community desire to preserve existing tree canopy for noise reduction and wildlife
  • public art – look at concepts and location within the interchange
  • create vegetated edge plantings
  • reduce or eliminate mowings with native platings wildflowers and tall grasses
  • improved signage for the interchange
  • plan / public art that embraces the strengths and weaknesses of the interchange (e.g., power line structures, the community history)
  • homelessness, pan handlers and drug use are past and/or current issue
  • open up line of sight at ramp exits / lights
  • honeysuckle in the area (invasive species)
  • traffic noise affecting nearby residential
  • soil may be compressed in construction staging areas
  • don’t create any plans that preclude a future sidewalk / bike path under Keystone Bridge
  • need more community input on gateway concept – gateway to where? Nora community / neighborhoods (west)? Keystone businesses (east)?
Next Steps

KIB, with planner David Roth, will take the feedback they’ve gathered during this first meeting and put together some preliminary plans for the interchange. Within the next few weeks, the Nora Alliance will schedule a second public meeting to present and provide further input to the plans. With plans in hand, KIB will work with the community to identify funding for the project implementation and maintenance.

We welcome continued feedback during this process! If you would like to provide additional input while the plans are being developed, please contact Mark Adler, KIB Director of Special Projects.




Nora’s 86th St / Keystone Bridge Gateway Beautification Project

What would a nice gateway to Nora look like? With your help, we will work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to answer that question.

The Keystone Avenue Bridge at 86th Street, currently under construction, serves as a gateway to the Nora community. However, the bridge, exit ramps, and surrounding land have been neglected for years, collecting trash, invasive plants, and the occasional homeless person camping out in the overgrown wooded areas. With the construction of the Keystone Bridge, we have an opportunity to give this area a facelift.

Project Background
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was contacted a few times in the past year or two by neighbors in the Nora community asking if they could do anything to help with beautifying the ugly Keystone Bridge at 86th Street interchange. They were exploring the idea, then the bridge construction came up offering some opportunity to get engaged. The Nora Alliance will organize two community meetings in mid-July and August to help Keep Indianapolis Beautiful gather input on design plans for the interchange, with the following objectives:
  • to engage the Nora community in proactive planning with the assistance of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
  • to help address the homeless population that are living in this area from time to time
  • to meet the community wants and needs with a design based on community input
  • to determine what gets put in place in areas that have already been cleared by the construction process
  • to determine how to maintain wildlife / greenspace as desired by the community
  • to determine a tree maintenance plan so newly planted trees are maintained and thrive after construction crew is gone (these do not otherwise have a maintenance plan, and trees often die after the construction phase)
  • to work with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to help in the planning and design phase, and then in seeking funding to implement the plan

The goal for the July meeting is for a designer to capture what is important to the community at this space so a design can be created. The goal for the August meeting is for the designer to come back with a rough drawing capturing feedback from July and gather final feedback before getting a solid plan to go forth with.

Dates and times for the meetings are still being determined. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about the project. Stay tuned for more information!

Off-street trail in Nora, Indianapolis

Nora’s College Avenue Trail Approved and Funded

We learned this week that the College Avenue Trail in Nora has been funded as part of the RebuildIndy 2 projects. While the project was originally approved, it lost its funding and was cancelled last winter. Recent funding was acquired and the project was again added to the list of approved projects announced last week.

The project will provide a safe pedestrian off-street trail along this often congested section of College Ave. that has no sidewalks or shoulder.

RebuildIndy is Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiative to restore deteriorating streets, sidewalks and bridges as well as address neighborhood drainage and flooding issues. This investment continues to transform neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.

Getting an off-street pedestrian trail or new sidewalks in a community can take years of hard work. Indeed, for the past 3- to 4- years several people in Nora have been advocating for an off-street trail along College Avenue between 86th Street and 91st Street. Some of the people involved in spearheading the trail include George Robinson, former athletic director at First Baptist Church, Barry Wood, and members of Hope Church. It serves as an example of what community pro-active planning can achieve.

Early details on the project are provided by Benjamin Easley, Public Information Officer / Department of Public Works:

  • This project will indeed be bid for construction in July and completely built by the end of the year.
  • The College Avenue Trail will be an off-street asphalt trail similar to the one on 91stStreet.  The trail on 91st Street narrows down to a sidewalk at 91st/College
  • There will be a crosswalk connection at the signal at 91st/College.
  • The College Ave trail will be on the west side of the road.
  • There will be pedestrian signals at 86th/College as well as 91st/College.

Thanks to ReBuildIndy, DPW, and all the people involved in making this trail happen.

Indy Parks Plan – Your Opportunity for Feedback

At the April Nora Alliance meeting, we gathered input to the Indy Parks, Recreation, and Open Space 5-Year Plan. The DRAFT document linked below is an outcome of that meeting, submitted to Indy Parks in June 2015.

This is an open, transparent, and community-let effort. Like it? Don’t like it? Your comments, constructive criticism, praise, ideas, alternatives, input, and priorities are welcomed!

Please comment below, or on Facebook, Twitter (#noraparksplan), or email by June 3rd, 2015.



Indy Parks Plan Feedback: What We Heard

Opening & Introductions

Local resident Bob Weaver kicked off the April 28th, 2015, Nora Alliance meeting with introductions and background from the first meeting of the Nora Alliance. We will be soliciting a steering committee to guide the first year of Nora Alliance activities and proactive community planning.

Indianapolis – Marion County Park, Recreation & Open Space 5-Year Plan Community Input

On March 4th, 2015, Indy Parks kicked off their master planning process for Washington Township. While the master plan will be for the entire city, their approach will look at each township individually. The goal of this project is to engage the community, leadership and stakeholders in a meaningful and innovative public input process to build a shared vision for parks and recreation that supports the economic and community goals of the City of Indianapolis.

Tonight we solicited feedback for a community response to the plan. Local resident Jill Saligoe-Simmel gave an overview of Nora-area parks and the Indy Parks planning process, and a discussion followed. The group listed several pros and cons of Nora’s public and private park, open space and recreational facilities.

Idea Gallery

Here’s a summary of what we heard:

  1. The Monon Trail is the prominent feature in our community, however its potential as an anchor feature in the community is not realized to its fullest potential. People identified this as a priority for parks and open space planning, indicating they would like to see more enhancement of the park / greenway as a community asset beyond its use as a recreational thoroughfare. The general consensus is that priority should be placed on a number of small, relatively low cost projects that could be implemented quickly to great effect.
    1. Visually and physically develop the trail from 91st north to at least the YMCA south as the community’s anchor feature, utilizing every available inch of trail ROW for green space, formal and informal gathering spots (i.e., micro-parks), and pocket parks.
    2. Visually and physically develop the Monon Trail at 86th Street road crossing as a safe crossing and community “gateway” feature. Priority should be focused both on addressing immediate safety needs and enhancements with the current crosswalk, as well as developing long-term solutions.
    3. Add public gathering spaces along the trail in this section through land acquisitions and/or joint use agreements for pocket parks adjacent to trail, micro-parks, and potentially a dog park.
    4. Integrate public art into this section of the trail.
    5. Spaces should be inviting, casual, welcoming, and incorporate some small details to surprise/delight/discover (e.g., hidden nooks). Needs to accommodate diverse users, including families with young children, bikers, skaters/rollerbladers, elderly, handicap, etc.
  2. Acquire additional park properties as neighborhood parks to serve families with children. Nora lacks neighborhood parks where families can gather, and kids can run and play.
  3. Implement the Full Circle Greenway Plan 86th/82nd Street Corridor to connect the Monon at 86th Street “gateway” with nearby parks and community assets, such as regional parks and commercial areas (e.g., Town Run Trail Park and Keystone at the Crossing), and planned public transportation projects, e.g., Red Line.

The following opportunities were discussed as community input to the Indy Parks and Open Space 5-Year Plan.

  1. The Monon Trail — Enhance the 86th St. trail crossing
    1. enhance the crosswalk for safety, as well as a visually/aesthetically pleasing community gateway
    2. painted crosswalk? — partner with North Central High School art department to help design and paint a crosswalk as public art, keep it local, show off our colorful community
    3. general maintenance — fix barriers on north side of street and fill pothole in crosswalk
    4. additional landscaping / hardscaping to create a welcoming / enticing environment
    5. improved signage, lighting, and pavement Ped-Xing markings for safety
    6. work with community for long-term plans for a safer crossing solution, e.g., trail bridge and/or other enhanced pedestrian crosswalk solution with traffic calming measures, etc.
  1. The Monon Trail — Develop Micro-Parks and Pocket Parks
    1. develop the small slice of land on trail next to Marsh building (DMD property parcel #8036430)
      1. ideas include: picnic tables, benches, game/chess tables, swing, bike racks, shelter (long and narrow building?) similar to shelter in Broad Ripple, water station, evergreen landscaping
      2. wheelchair accessible connection between south side of parcel and parking lot
    2. incorporate public art along trail – local artisits? sculptures?
    3. explore park partnership with the Indiana Blind School for expanded property access at Monon Trail for pocket park
  1. Explore opportunities to expand existing Indy Parks / IPL joint use agreement on IPL property adjoining the east and west sides of the Monon Trail at 91st St. This property houses a power substation, and although not ideal as park space, the community should be creative in capitalizing on any available open space.
    1. leverage existing Indy Park use agreements, e.g., trail parking lot and paths already in place (there was historic use as softball fields to the south of substation – now retirement apartments) to develop low-impact / non-competing park use on lands adjacent to the trail
    2. ideas include: dog park, skate park, small playground and benches near trail on south side of parking lot, micro-park trail rest stop, small stage for community music in the parks, community gardens, …
    3. property on east side of trail is less developed and has a creek – could it incorporate a low intensity park use? picnic shelters?
    4. explore possibilities with the community
  1. Explore every remaining opportunity to acquire property for neighborhood and pocket parks
    1. there are a few very opportunities left of private undeveloped property in Nora. These should be immediately explored, and if possible acquired, before there are simply no more opportunities left
    2. ideas: property to the north of Marsh only accessible from the Monon Trail? property (which includes woods and floodplain) on 86th St. north of North Central High School? Shortees Golf Course (if it doesn’t get zoning change approval for proposed development)?
  2. Explore enhanced park entrance / access point for Marott Park on Monon Trail side
  3. Explore possible new park entrance / access point for Town Run Trail Park in partnership with Central Indiana Land Trust and its proposed headquarters at Oliver’s Woods
Fill Out the Indy Parks Survey

We encourage you to fill out the Indy Parks Community Input Survey

We’re Not Done Yet

The ideas and input represent who we’ve heard from thus far. What are your ideas for parks, greenways and open space in Nora? What are your priorities? Comment below, or on Facebook, or Twitter (#noraparks), and let us know what you would like to see.


If You Could Design Nora’s Future Parks…

What would it look like?

Indy Parks Begins 5-Yr Master Planning: Washington Township

On March 4th, 2015, Indy Parks kicked off their master planning process for Washington Township. While the master plan will be for the entire city, their approach will be to look at each township individually.

Now is the time to get involved in the process for Washington Township!

Indy Parks Master Plan

The parks department evaluates the path their extensive park system will take every five years. The goal of this project is to engage the community, leadership and stakeholders in a meaningful and innovative public input process to build a shared vision for parks and recreation that supports the economic and community goals of the City of Indianapolis. PROS Consulting is a nationally recognized firm, headquartered in Indianapolis and will lead Indy Parks to a great sustainable plan to move forward.

The duration of the project from start to finish is 10 months with an anticipated completion date by December 2015.

This is a community-input driven process and the outcome and future recommendations will be driven by the needs and vision articulated by the community members.

Through the ‘Participate’ section on the Plan Indy Parks website –, you can provide open ended suggestions, respond to the online survey, know the dates for open public meetings and even share feedback through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Oliver’s Woods to Become Central Indiana Land Trust Headquarters

Oliver’s Woods is a 53-acre nature preserve located in Nora near the Keystone at the Crossing shopping area. It was left to the Central Indiana Land Trust by Mr. Oliver Daugherty, who passed away in 2009.

The 53-acre property includes 16 acres of woods, 37 acres of prairie-savanna restoration, and a mile of frontage along the White River. The southern half of the popular Town Run Trail Park is encompassed within this property. The mountain bike trails will remain in place, as was agreed upon by Mr. Daugherty and Indy Parks. The remaining portion of the property will eventually serve as the Central Indiana Land Trust’s headquarters, and hiking trails will be added for nature walks and wildlife viewing.

“This nature preserve is not yet officially open to the public, but we look forward to sharing it with the community soon,” states the Central Indiana Land Trust website.

Photo credit: IndyStar

Indy Connect RED Line Rapid Transit Plan

Rapid Transit lines are designed to build upon the local bus service in key, heavily traveled corridors. The Red Rapid Transit Line is under detailed study. Running from Carmel through downtown Indianapolis to Greenwood, serving key destinations such as:

  • Nora
  • Broad Ripple
  • Meridian-Kessler
  • Ivy Tech
  • Eli Lilly and Company

Indy Connect completed a more detailed study of the Red Rapid Transit Line in 2013 and will continue to move the line through Project Development and Preliminary Engineering Phase in 2015. This continues to prepare the region to apply for Federal funding to construct the project through the Federal Transit Administration at the appropriate time. Bus Rapid Transit is the recommended vehicle type for the Red Line.

The Red Line is 25 miles long and extends from Westfield in the North, through Downtown, to Greenwood in the South. It connects to key destinations including Carmel, Nora, Broad Ripple, Butler, the Children’s Museum, the IU Health Hospital Complex, Eli Lilly, and the University of Indianapolis.  The corridor connects some of the fastest growing population and employment centers in the region and serves one of the key commuting corridors.

Three Nora stations are recommended in the plan, preliminarily located at College and Marott Park, 86th and College, and 96th and College. Recommended station locations reflect a strength for future development potential, as well as highest demand for service, based on the amount of residential, employment, attraction, educational, or health facilities located within 1/4-1/2 mile of the identified intersections.

In addition, preliminary station design concepts have been created to help the community visualize how a potential station may function in certain areas.  The stations are intended to include sustainable, durable materials; have modular components to enable growth for special events or over time as demand increases; include amenities like seating, paying for your ticket at the station instead of on the vehicle, and real-time arrival information among others; and would vary in size to fit the context of the station area.

See the IndyConnect website for more information about the Red Line progress.

Northtown Trail Plan

The Northtown Trail is a proposed east-west greenway connection of the Indy Full Circle Greenways Plan. It completes the east-west connection between Fort Harrison State Park and Eagle Creek Park. Along its route, it connects to many neighborhood and community parks, greenways, residential centers, and commercial nodes. It also opens up new recreational access to the White River. Its central section would cross the southern portion of Nora, and includes a proposed trailhead at 75th Street at its intersection with the Monon Trail.

Although the Northtown Trail is new to the greenways master plan, the route had previously been identified in the Indianapolis Bikeways Master Plan as an east-west connection across the north side of the city. Bike lanes are already in place across the entire length and several small sections of sidepaths are either already in place or in the planning process. This plan elevates the design of these sidepaths to the greenways design standard.

Indy Full Circle Greenways Plan

Indy Parks and the Department of Public Works have released the approved Indy Greenways Full Circle Plan.  The master plan is the result of a year-long planning process that included extensive public engagement and input.  It outlines the long-term, comprehensive vision for trail and greenway development in the City.

82nd/86th St Commercial Connector Plan

Indianapolis is in the midst of a revolution in terms of constructing new pedestrian and bicycle facilities, whether they be sidewalks, bike lanes, or sidepaths. There is even a separate Bikeways Master Plan that identifies the long-term vision for providing greater connectivity for the entire city.

The strength of this plan is that it ties the greenway system into that larger system and in the end, this plan is intended to accept and connect to all of those different types of “connections.” During the master planning process, it was determined that a connection to the major commercial centers in the city was desired. One major commercial corridor is the 82nd Street/86th Street corridor extending east and west through Nora.

From the Keystone Fashion Mall, the proposed route crosses 86th Street at the western off ramp of Keystone Avenue and then follows the south side of the street another mile west to the Monon Trail. In this section of the route, the trail passes through residential areas and connects to North Central High School. At the Monon Trail, the route again crosses 86th Street and follows the north side of the street for 6.75 miles, passing several additional commercial centers and neighborhoods continuing to the Traders Point commercial center.

The 82nd/86th Street Commercial Connector provides an opportunity for the greenways to provide pedestrian and bicycle connections to several major commercial areas in the city. Its implementation would provide a unique type of experience in the city. This route is in the very early stages of conceptual development and will need additional study to determine the exact alignment and more detail on how this greenway is incorporated into this high-vehicular volume corridor in the safest manner possible.

Indy Full Circle Greenways Plan

Indy Parks and the Department of Public Works have released the approved Indy Greenways Full Circle Plan.  The master plan is the result of a year-long planning process that included extensive public engagement and input.  It outlines the long-term, comprehensive vision for trail and greenway development in the City.