Four score and a canal conundrum

February 11, 2008
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Lincoln ParkA community group is calling on state and local government officials to preserve a one-acre lot along the Central Canal as Lincoln Park in honor of the former president. The narrow strip of land between Ohio and New York streets, which abuts a state parking garage, was left vacant to allow for future development. But now, a group called Canal Park Advocates says the seemingly unremarkable land has "exceptional social, inspirational and cultural value." They want it preserved in time for next year's 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birthday. "While it is an open hillside, and certainly not a redwood forest, it has tremendous cultural potential," Cathy Burton, president of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, said in a statement. Two teams are vying to develop the site, and both envision a hotel and retail space. Renderings of the proposals are here and here. Is the community group choosing its battles wisely?
  • That's just irritating. Develop the site!
  • This is stupid. There are more important places for parks in this city than this tiny grass strip along the canal. Groups like this should instead shift their efforts to turning vacant lots in run down neighborhoods into parks that serve the community.

    I'm tired of groups like this saying there isn't enough green space in Indy when all the parks downtown are so empty. Military Park is empty unless there's a festival and I NEVER see anyone taking advantage of the beautiful mall in front of the World War I memorial.

    The point is, there are plenty of other more important battles these people could be fighting. This little plot of land is begging for environment.
  • I agree. This site needs to be developed. To get more people downtown and visiting the canal, it needs to have more residents and foot traffic. A grassy hillside noll will not encourage foot traffic, and it breaks up the flow of the developed canal as it is. Lets start a group advocating against Canal Park Advocates. STUPID IDEA to block this.
  • The community group is right about one thing. This land does have great cultural potential. And that potential will be realized if they choose the LodgWorks proposal. What, White River and Military Park aren't enough for these people?
  • Well there is military park across the street which is always empty except for the few festivals during the summer. Then a few more blocks away there is the war memorial park by the Central library. I am all about preserving nature and I appreciate its cultural value, but this small strip on the canal is not special and there are better uses for the land. In addition the canal will still have a natural, park like feel in my mind even if this site is developed. It will only lead to more use of the whole canal system if it is developed.
  • Combine this latest insane request with the micromanaging of window sill restoration in rehabbed neighborhoods by the local historical preservation management groups and what you get is retarded growth. I'll be glad just to see the downtown Market/Washington Street interchange thing completed,..eeer, I mean started!
  • No, they are not picking their battles wisely. McANA needs to back off and stop taking stances on issues that they really have no affect on them or their other CAVE members. There is not one land-use expert or planner that works with them and they arrive at opinions on land-use as if they lived in New Palestine, Indiana. They need to go back to ensuring cul-de-sacs and piece-meal development for Franklin and Decatur townships and stay away from real urban development...something that they have NO EXPERTISE in deciding!

    Can you tell I don't hold them in high regard?
  • Yeah, sure, then all we need is inner city kids sliding down the hill and getting hurt. Take the idea somewhere else. This space is not worthy of a park and can be put to better use. Don't people understand that unproductive land causes the public to pay more for support of these type of projects from our own pocket books?
  • What are they thinking? This is not a small town, this is a city and that site should be developed. I'm so tired of this small-minded thinking!
  • The site should certainly be developed, though I'm not particularly impressed with either of the two concepts proposed heretofore. MCANA is an overwhelmingly suburban organization with overwhelmingly suburban ideas. They need to back away from this...
  • I've sent an email to Ms. Burton, it would be great if everyone else did too.
  • if this is turned into a park they might as well name that part of downtown the fishers district.
  • Does anyone know about the development along the canal between Michigan and 9th (I think?)? It's in between the Indiana building of Historical Landmarks and the fancy condos on the east side of the canal. I think I heard rumors a while ago about putting in a grocery store and something else in that space. They have put in what looks like a wooden fence at the bottom of the hill by the canal, but don't know what is going in that space. Anybody know?
  • That email address is a joke.

    The canal itself is the park, not an undeveloped strip of grass next to a garage that no one ever uses.

    It's so beautiful in front of this parking garage, don't you think dear? I love the way the sun bounces off the hood of that Toyota.
  • Since this is a family blog, I won't post my feelings about Cathy Burton here...
  • By the way, for those so inclined to email Ms. Burton, you might as well send an email to Mayor Ballard too.

    He opposed any development on this parcel during his campaign.
  • As a Center Township property tax payer, I REALLY want this land ON the tax rolls with a big expensive building on it!
  • Yeah, we have a huge state park just south of that area. It's an unsightly piece of land because of the parking garage, and really if you want a grassy area go to the highly under utilized Military Park.
  • beth -- that's the site for the Cosmopolitan on the Canal, an apartment building with ground floor retail. It may include a small grocery/convenience store on the ground floor, but the grocery store rumor you heard is probably for the recently renovated Gibson Building (SE corner of Michigan and Capitol).

    Cosmo renderings:
  • McAna is a cancer on the city of Indianapolis. A bunch of busy bodies that oppose anything and everything.
  • The only time this one-acre lot gets utilized by the public is during the outdoor concert events at the Indiana History Center. While i do think the hillside creates a great setting for people to enjoy concert events during the summer, we should not impede appropriate development in order to accommodate a concert-goers a few times a year. This group should be focusing their energy on working with the potential developers to create some additional outdoor space as a part of the project design. The current proposed designs are insignificant and do not engage the canal very well. If this group could focus energy on working with the developers, it could be a win-win situation for all.
  • Ever wonder why Ms. Burton never lets anyone else be president?
    Ever hear how hard it is to vote her out?
  • Now, isn't that interesting.

    According to the city info, there is at least one registered neighborhood association in that area. I wonder if Ms. Burton and her cronies have contacted the board of that association?
  • Cathy Burton wants to turn all of Indianapolis into the sprawl-ridden hellhole of Franklin Township.
  • Burton is actually semi-well-intentioned, though her ideologies are horrible. Clarke Kahlo, former administrator of the Division of Planning, and current reigning Czar of All Things That Are Crazy in Indianapolis, is the guy that's pushing this thing. Please cc your Burton emails to include him.
  • This is an embankment. It's a water runoff seeded with temporary grass to prevent erosion. This site has no meaningful social or historical value not to mention significantly interesting views, and is in dire need of more density. Although the Browning proposal is HIDEOUS, this site needs to be developed. The group is fighting a battle that need not be fought here. There are MANY more important sites in the mile square and surrounds that are in need of preservation and restoration. Just NOT this one! CPA, go find another site. Or better yet, get on the bandwagon to help convince The Powers To BE to develop responsibly, i.e. LEED and environmentally practical and aesthetically pleasing structures.
  • Please post the Canal Park Advocates email address so I can tell the what I think. They need to grow up. Indianapolis needs to be maintain it's city status, not it's ID of a suburban sprawl. I am upset at these fools!
  • CorrND--thanks for the info (and I subscribed to your blog, by the way :) ). I'm excited to see a good use of space going in along the canal!
  • Develop the site! To keep it as is, is ridiculous. It needs to go on the tax rolls and be productive. It's only used for the summer concerts, anyway; otherwise, kids just run up it and slide down it. This group needs to get real.
  • Whats up with calling it Lincoln Park? How about some originality. But I guess by reading the above comments, most of these people are from the sprwal loving, culdesac packed suburbs, where originality is a four letter word.
  • Sounds to me like you alll just have sour grapes about MCANA. You must have gone up against them and lost.
  • lol, suburb watch? sounds like some white trash here tryin to cause some trouble...
  • Lost to McANA? Now that is funny.
  • The city as a whole continues to lose to the suburban nazis of mcana every day...
  • McANA freaking sucks.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.