The committee overseeing development of the Nickel Plate Trail in Fishers has announced a series of events and meetings to allow residents to share ideas and provide feedback on the controversial project.
The committee—co-chaired by Fishers City Council member John Weingardt and resident Amanda Welu—plans to engage the community and solicit public ideas beginning with a series of events that start next week.
The Nickel Plate Trail Master Planning Committee was formed in May to help guide planning for Fishers’ portion of the trail, which is expected to run from 96th Street to 146th Street. Eventually, the trail will continue into Noblesville.
Last week, the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety approved contracts with two firms to lead the master planning process. Columbus, Ohio–based NBBJ is handling architecture and design work, while Indianapolis-based EX2 Partners is overseeing strategic consulting, which includes branding and communication with the public.
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness plans to ask the city council to approve a $12 million bond paid for by a 1 cent to 1.5 cent property tax increase to pay for the first section of the trail. The bond will also pay for a few road construction projects.
"There are 4.5 miles of future trail in Fishers. Our goal is to create a one-of-a-kind experience, a new kind of public space that happens to have a trail running through it," said Welu, who also is a partner at Indianapolis-based Delv Design Studio LLC.
The Track to Trail Kickoff Weekend includes four events from Friday, Sept. 28, to Sunday, Sept. 30, that are intended to give residents a chance to share ideas for the new trail and experiences that can accompany it with committee members and city officials:
— Four Day Ray: A happy hour is planned for 4-6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Four Day Ray, 11671 Lantern Road.
— Movies in the Park at the AMP: An open house is slated from 7-10 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater.
— Fishers Farmers Market: An open house is scheduled for 8 a.m.-noon Sept. 29 during the Fishers Farmers Market in the Nickel Plate District.
— Brooks School Park: An open house is planned for noon-3 p.m. Sept. 30 at Brooks School Park at 116th Street and Brooks School Road.
Events will focus on gathering ideas for the new trail and "experiences" that could go alongside it. Organizers say a 10-foot by 8-1/2-foot interactive wall will be featured at the amphitheater, farmers market and Brooks School Park during those events that will allow residents to contribute trail-related ideas.
The weekend begins a month-long outreach effort that will include focus groups with educators, students, entrepreneurs, artists and public safety officials. Other stakeholders, including neighbors and businesses along the trail, will also be included in those efforts.
Throughout the month, people will be able to submit ideas online or via mail (Fishers City Hall Attn: Nickel Plate Trail, 1 Municipal Drive, Fishers, IN 46038.) To submit an idea online, visit playfishers.com/tracktotrail.
The public input process for trail master planning ends Oct. 30 with a community conversation. The event will run from 7-9 p.m. at the Delaware Township Community Building, 9094 E. 131st St.
Soliciting public input is the first phase of envisioning what the 4.5-mile trail experience in Fishers could be, planners say. The next phase will begin to shape the ideas into visual concepts that will be brought back to the community for further feedback and refinement in early 2019.
"We are encouraging our residents to be bold, be original and be heard," Weingardt said. "It is a blank slate right now, and I can't wait to see what this community working together can dream."