7/16/09

The Future of Broad Ripple

Tonight I attended my first Envision Broad Ripple meeting.

The goal of the Envision team is to design and architect the "shape" of Broad Ripple's future. This particular meeting focused on the area north of the Canal.

The meeting started by reviewing notes that observers had taken while walking through the area after the last meeting. The general feel of the notes was that the area lacked the TLC to give it a community feel. Someone at my table mentioned the phrase "Group Pride" which I felt fit very well. There is often trash, graffiti, or dumpsters lying around that give the area a generic feel of neglect. While it is the responsibility of the business owners to maintain their grounds, it is also the responsibility of all of us to make sure we don't contribute to the problem.

We discussed ways to improve upon some of the issues. These included concealing the dumpsters. I thought of the idea of working with the dumpster companies to see if we could design new dumpsters. Perhaps create a contest around it so that the dumpsters become a piece of urban art. Others thought of hiding them behind attractive enclosures. The consensus was that something needed to be done.

I also remembered some of the ideas put forth at a Pecha Kucha event by The Urbanophile. He discussed that the city (Indianapolis) needed more of an identity. I feel that this could hold true to a neighborhood trying to design a sense of community. Create a common bond between the street signs, symbols on the sidewalks, placards at businesses, etc...

We then moved to a very fun exercise. They had a large model of the area north of the canal, complete with Lego-scale building blocks depicting the structures of the area. We were given free liberty to design what we wanted, what we felt the neighborhood needed. This included:
  • Creating a bed & breakfast near Opti-Park.
  • Architecting 65th Street to be a main gateway into the area. Complete with gateway sculptures into the main "north side" arteries.
  • Dispersing bike racks in various spots to make the area more pedestrian/bike friendly.
  • Having higher density mixed-use structures along Westfield Blvd.
  • Making sure that parking spaces were behind new structures to create a more urban feel.
  • Installing a parking garage or two.
  • Having a neighborhood shuttle.
  • Preserving the "cottage-bungalow" feel of the central part of the area.
  • Developing a boutique hotel in the area with a main floor restaurant.
  • etc....
My idea was to design a marina somewhere in the area that made most sense. The White River Yacht Club is currently on a lengthy wait list and the seems to be the demand for another Marina. Not to mention that it could do well for the area and for broad ripple businesses.

The best part of the exercise was that judgment of the ideas was off the table. It didn't matter how feasible the idea was or how much it cost, just the creativity of the idea.

Some of the main goals of the area are to make something of Broad Ripple's canal, the area's proximity to the White River, and a more grandeur Broad Ripple Ave.

What are your thoughts? How would you envision a better Broad Ripple if money or obstacles were out of the picture?

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