EDITORIAL: Smart growth likely result of Zionsville battle

 IBJ Staff
May 21, 2011
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IBJ Editorial

Zionsville’s family feud over commercial real estate development has stirred passions among people who seem to agree, at least outwardly, on one point: The town’s growth should be managed to preserve its quality of life.

We agree. The folks in Zionsville are no doubt familiar with Indianapolis’ north side and know what happens when development occurs without proper planning.

In the early 1970s, Castleton became a traffic nightmare that eventually spread west to the Keystone at the Crossing area. The demand for commercial space along the 82nd Street/86th Street corridor has outpaced the ability of area roads to accommodate the traffic. At peak times, people are stuck in their cars. Walking isn’t an option.

But there is another way. Carmel’s City Center and Arts & Design District are contemporary examples of planned growth that integrate commercial and residential development. Downtowns in Indianapolis, Noblesville and Zionsville benefit from their old-fashioned but effective street grids and walkable environments.

Zionsville’s quaint downtown isn’t threatened, but the wrong kind of development elsewhere in Zionsville could turn it into an oasis in the midst of chaos.

That’s the fear that some people voiced as rival factions slugged it out in the recent primary election that effectively determined who will occupy seven seats on the Zionsville’s town council after elections in November.

Both sides say they’re pro growth, provided development is properly planned and implemented. But accusations have flown that some candidates’ professed support for growth is insincere. On the other side, there are suspicions that growth advocates intend to let it happen unchecked.

The mistrust that divides those who are most passionate about the town’s future is unfortunate, but at least someone is paying attention. If all the interested parties stay engaged, it seems like a good bet Zionsville will get the commercial growth it needs for its tax base without letting new development fundamentally change its identity.

Tennis down, not out

As construction workers build a parking garage on what used to be practice courts for the Indianapolis Tennis Center near IUPUI, a determined group of tennis enthusiasts is working hard to find another venue to keep the sport alive here.

It’s unfortunate that a facility as relatively new as the late 1970s tennis center is already history, but the tennis enthusiasts, who call themselves Save Downtown Tennis, should be commended for not giving up just because the bricks-and-mortar embodiment of their sport disappeared (see story on page 3).

The group says it’s closing in on funding for a 16-court facility that could host numerous amateur-level events and might lure another stop on the professional tennis tour. And it’s negotiating with the city regarding the availability of three city-owned sites near downtown where the new courts could be built.

The city’s sports culture and tourism trade need not rely entirely on big-ticket sports such as professional football, basketball and auto racing. Save Downtown Tennis understands that. We hope the group succeeds in its quest to maintain a presence here for its favorite sport.•


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