Indianapolis area needs engaged public

April 18, 2015

Bruce Race’s [April 6] column “Collaborate on agenda for an exceptional region” recommends a more deliberate conversation about regional planning issues. We couldn’t agree more.

What’s ironic is that our communities work together as well as any region in the country.

Indy Chamber has led the creation of a regional Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Urban Land Institute Indiana has collaborated with the Central Indiana Council of Elected Officials on a cohesive watershed planning vision. The Metropolitan Planning Organization maintains central Indiana’s 25-year transportation plan, and has worked with IndyGo and the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority to develop the Indy Connect transit plan.

The challenge is that no single organization has comprehensive authority, which means we get a la carte regional planning, and critical topics like land use fall to each city, town or county without any mechanism for regional oversight.

More insidiously, all of these initiatives earn legitimacy though public engagement.

Unfortunately, these multiple organizations, long timelines and big initiatives like Plan 2020 and CEDS can create public confusion and fatigue just as projects like Indy Connect’s Red Line are moving toward implementation. Even the most civically engaged residents have trouble keeping all of these organizations and initiatives straight, and are challenged to stay engaged for the long term.

Yes, we must always push for regional collaboration, but, at the same time, we also must stay committed—and get more creative—in our efforts to engage the public. Of all our partnerships, that one is most important.

Anna Gremling, executive director
Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization

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