Vision for Nickel Plate Trail in Fishers includes rec center, playgrounds, reading nooks, plazas

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Nickel Plate - Fishers - 96th Street viewing deck - 550 px

The community members planning the Nickel Plate Trail say it will be a linear park running from 96th Street to 146th Street, featuring amenities the entire community can enjoy, including a teen center, a boardwalk and recreational opportunities.  

On Monday night, the committee charged with master planning the 4.5 miles of trail that run through Fishers presented a vision for the new amenity to the Fishers City Council and the community.  

Nickel Plate - Fishers - Overall rendering - 550 pxRenderings of the master plan show a teen recreational center, obstacle courses, playgrounds, reading nooks and community plazas. The master plan is a 21-year vision, meaning segments of the trail will be developed over two decades.

(Click the renderings for larger images.)

The committee, made up of stakeholders and residents, last year hired strategic consulting firm Ex2 Partners and architecture company NBBJ to help develop the plan for the trail.

Combined with the Noblesville segment, the trail will run 9.2 miles from 96th Street in Fishers to Pleasant Street in Noblesville. Plans for the trail were first announced in February 2017, when county leaders said the Nickel Plate Railroad would be converted into a pedestrian trail. Plans call for the tracks to be ripped out and have been criticized by residents who wish to see the trail built alongside the train tracks.

The planning committee has been meeting since May to start drafting a vision for the trail and began soliciting ideas from residents in September. In total, people submitted more than 1,500 ideas, including some that came from Hamilton Southeastern Schools students who submitted several of the ideas included in the vision. The committee provided more than 30 opportunities for residents to submit ideas.

Nickel Plate - beach at launch fishers - 550 pxDuring the master planning phase, eight themes emerged: a trail for all, celebrating what is uniquely Fishers, health and wellness, connecting to community, design with nature, a place for innovation and tech, safety and privacy and history and heritage of the Nickel Plate Railroad.

The vision breaks the trail into five segments, each featuring unique amenities: Makerspace and innovation, nature and park, downtown active core, wellness zone, and park and education.

Twenty percent of the trail will be activated, while the remaining 80 percent will remain largely passive, without obvious recreational activities.

The makerspace and innovation segment would run from 96th Street to 106th Street. At 96th Street, the vision calls for an overlook and bridge over 96th Street, where residents and visitors can gather. The nature and park section runs from 106th Street to just before 116th Street. The downtown active core encompasses 116th Street and goes to 126th Street and includes several ideas, including a cultural commons with a monumental sculpture where shows can be held. Near Launch Fishers, the vision calls for a boardwalk to be built along existing ponds. The wellness zone runs from 126th Street to 131st Street, and park and education runs from 131st Street to 141st Street.

Nickel Plate - Fishers - at the library - 550 pxNear the existing YMCA, plans call for a teen center to be built near the wellness zone, an idea from students who said they are looking for places to hang out. The north end of the trail, near 146th Street, would include an education center with a treehouse.

Committee members say the ideas shared Monday night are the highlight real, and they’re continuing to solicit more ideas and feedback from residents. Input will be collected through March, and the plan will be finalized in April.  

“We are just scratching the surface of what could be,” the committee’s co-chairwoman, Amanda Welu said. “The ideas are just really, really fun to think about.”

Fishers plans to begin construction on the trail this year. In October, the city passed a budget for 2019 that included a property tax increase to help fund the project and other city priorities.

The tax hike will generate $7 million to $9 million to help construct the first of three phases on the trail. The first phase to be constructed will be 106th Street to 126th Street and includes a tunnel that will be built under 116th Street.

Monday night, Mayor Scott Fadness said the trail will be transformational for Fishers and the vision for it is “uniquely Fishers.”

Nickel Plate - Fishers - 96th Street viewing deck - 550 px

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