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Election key step in town's change into city

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An Indianapolis suburb will begin the transition from the town to city this Tuesday, as voters in Fishers vote in its first municipal primary election.

Over the past 25 years, the formerly close-knit farming community has metamorphosed into a cluster of growth sprawled across more than 33 miles. Despite a handful of local industries and office buildings, most of the community's 81,000 residents work elsewhere, chiefly in the state capital to the south.

Some people feel that living there is enough. But others want to follow the path of Carmel to the west, which has transformed from a bedroom community for Indianapolis into a self-contained city in its own right, though it still remains a suburb.

"Fishers has kind of an identity crisis," Greg Purvis told The Indianapolis Star. Purvis led the push to reorganize the town as a city.

"Is this a bedroom community? Do you want commercial development? What kind of commercial development? There is this struggle to identify ourselves as who we are and who we want to be. And that's kind of an unanswered question right now," Purvis said.

Most residents didn't live in Fishers 10 years ago, so this election won't necessarily be predictable based on its predecessors. Besides its first-ever mayor, Fishers will also elect seven members for the new city council and a city clerk.

Tuesday's ballot for city offices contains few Democrats, and all of the mayoral candidates are Republicans. The new municipal government will take over on Jan. 1.

"Is it going to lose the feel that most people moved there for? Yes," added, Mike Kraus, a physician. "It clearly is. You can argue that it's good or bad."

His wife, Molly Kraus, says Fishers used to have a "small-town feel."

"It was safe. It was quiet. It wasn't a bustling city," said Molly Kraus, a businesswoman who moved from Indianapolis in 1993.

Change has already cost part of the town's past. The town council voted in February to demolish the local train station but maintain its platform to make way for a 120-unit mixed-use apartment building.

Molly Kraus' petition to stop the train station demolition received only 534 signatures from residents. She believes the movement to save the railroad station didn't get enough publicity.

Morton Marcus, a retired business professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said the town has to sustain itself economically before it can become a real city.

"Fishers has to have a diversified economy," said Marcus, former director of the Indiana Business Research Center. "There's no community in Indiana or anywhere else that can support itself without having a mix of commerce — some industrial uses, some commercial uses. They're very important. You can't just do it with rooftops.

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  • really a suburb?
    I am aware that fishers does not have such a rich history
  • Really a suburb?
    Some cities that are considered suburbs of indy were viable near the same time indy was... like franklin (1823), Shelbyville (1850), greenfield (1828), etc. So are these cities considered suburbs? or is indy just a nearby cancerous growth that wont stop metastasis?
  • Not necessarily
    I had no idea there was a petition or any movement to stop the train station from being demolished. I moved to Fishers for the charm but vibrant life. It seems like a big economic development mess with no strategy at this point. More apartments in the center of town. Brilliant idea, folks. 116th is ridiculously congested downtown Fishers with zero space to widen the road. Apartments put right in front of our Town Hall which iconically welcomed residents and visitors alike. The identity crisis wasn't there ten years ago. As a resident, I believe it was created by those who felt a need to be in competition with Carmel. Fishers ca't ever compete with Carmel. We don't have U.S. 31. There will never be the level of commercial tax base needed (and certainly not when tax abatements are given away with what seems to be no longterm strategy). There was a chance for that small town feel downtown but, alas, something got in the way. I will miss the train station and would've gladly signed the petition and then asked what else can I do. The train station is a piece of the history of this town. A reminder of belonging to the safety of a small town with the close amentities of a large city and one of the reasons I chose Fishers over Carmel and Zionsville when I moved to this state. The small town feel but not sleepy. I'll be voting. For no one currently sitting or affiliated with the current town council. And likely, once my children are out of school....I'll be moving.
  • Train Station
    I'm sorry, but the reason the train station petition didn't get many signatures is not because it wasn't publicized enough. It's because nobody cares about it. It's 15-20 years old, not 100. It only housed the chamber of commerce and a visitors center. Nobody has any connection to it so why would they care about saving it?
  • Identity crisis for what?
    People in this area have a weird concept of how suburbs relate to the central city. Carmel, Fishers, Westfield, et al are just bedroom communities. Not separate from, but part of, the main city. These are not discrete cities that just happen to share the same metropolitan area with another city like Newark or St. Paul or Oakland. Developing these places is okay but there's no identity crisis here--Fishers is not central to anything. It is and always will be a suburb of Indianapolis, just like Carmel. If Indianapolis didn't exist, neither would the towns.
  • "Small town feel"?
    How could Fishers have possibly ever had a "small-town feel"? It's just a collection of automobile-dominated sprawling subdivisions. Small towns have businesses. In a small town, you can walk to a school, or a restaurant, or a library or a church. That's never been Fishers.

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