When it comes to the discussions of what is happening with the White River, there are lots of plans being created that stretch from the top of Hamilton County all the way to the bottom of Marion County. With Fishers being in the middle, you’d expect it to be included in the plans.
Fishers is included in the plan, with a lot of changes proposed that include a boat launch, two pedestrian bridges that cross the river, walking trails, and a lot of planned activity ideas. The issue, however, is that this would all be a part of Conner Prairie, and not likely public access. Conner Prairie has a map of their future plans that includes many features that tap into using the river. Once they have made their official public announcement, then I’ll be able to share a diagram showing many of their updates and the expected locations.
As a member of Conner Prairie, I find the bridge, trail, and other ideas to be great improvements; however, it would have been nice to see ideas for White River improvements applied throughout the other areas of Fishers. The Public level of access to the White River from Fishers is minimal, with primary access at 116th Street and South. Ironically, most of the Conner Prairie plans are in Carmel – the West side of the river.
The Fishers City Council is focused on the rail trail and the new park on Geist, but it would be nice to see additional focus put on the White River and the opportunities it offers. Right now, the primary access from Fishers is a boat launch at 116th Street, Heritage Park, and behind the Riverside schools. Adding access to the river at 146th Street would allow a person to canoe, float, or kayak down to 116th or even 96th Street. Additionally, adding easier access to the river at Heritage Park would make it easier to get in and out of the river. It would also open up tubing from 116th Street to Heritage Park.
Outside of Fishers, there are a lot of popular destinations on the river. I mentioned many of the parks in a previous post. The following image from the White River planning committee list many of the popular destinations. It would be great to see more added that are located in Fishers!
The White River flows along the entire West side of Fishers. This is a fantastic asset that has a lot more to offer than a strip of old railroad tracks.
A group has been working to build a plan for the improved usage of the White River through Hamilton and Marion counties. I’ve posted a little bit about what they’ve been doing and will be posting more in the future. Of immediately importance, however, are a number of planning engagements over the next few days that will allow anyone to come and provide input to their plans. At these events you will gain insights into what has been happening on and around the river as well as the plans that are forming. The following image includes the dates happening this week:
UPDATE: Due to the weather, the meetings for 1/30 at MIBOR and Sun King Brewery have been postponed to 2/13 at a location to be determined.
When I’ve attended one of these events in the past, there was not a formal meeting, but rather a chance to see some of the plan and provide direct input to the group. This has included home owners asking that the plans leave their land alone to adventurers asking for more activities to be created. There are also those simply looking to understand more about what is available in the area.
These meetings are this week (the week I’m writing this), but the planning will be ongoing. You can always get more information or find the latest gathers on the MyWhiteRiver.com site. As mentioned, the planning covers the area shown in the following image:
Indiana is known for being flat. While this isn’t totally true, in most locations it is true enough. When it comes to sledding, flat isn’t a good feature. While you can jaunt up to Noblesville and pay to sled on hills, if you live in Fishers, there is no reason to leave town. In fact, there are at least two great places to sled – one on the far West side and one on the far East side.
Of course, my kids and I use the location on the East side, so while there is a desire to keep it a secret, I’ll open up and share! On the East side of Fishers is Heritage Park at White River. To get there, simply take 106th Street West until you can go no further. Once you cross Eller Road, you drive into the park. This is a relatively small park in Fishers but offers unique opportunities. In the summer it is one of the few places in Fishers where you can get to the White River. In a future article, I’ll talk in more details about this park, however, for this article, my focus is on the most notable winter feature of this park, which is a large hill. Better yet, it’s next to a parking lot, so it is easy to get to!
Heritage Park has one of the better sledding hills in town since it has a little bit of distance, but not so much that it is brutal to walk back to the top. The main part of the hill offers a longer run on a sled. Going off the right part of the hill offer a small slope that flattens out then a secondary smaller slope. This is great for the littler kids learning to sled as well as for those that try using snow boards instead of sled.
The other sledding part in Fishers is Flat Fork Creek Park, which is on the far East side of Fishers. This park claims the tallest hill in Hamilton County. It is located at 101st Street and Cyntheanne Road.
While I’ve not used the sledding hill at Flat Fork Creek, many have. The City of Fishers highlighted it this past week-end with the advent of the first good snow of the winter. One nice thing about this 60-foot sledding hill is that it is ADA compliant.
Of course, as more people learn about these two great locations, they will get more crowded. As such, care should be used, and the city rules should be followed. These rules include no metal sleds or kayaks. Also included in the rules are that you should not sled on designated walking paths. Granted, at Heritage Park you will be going over one of the snow-covered paths! The most important rule is that you should look uphill and yield to others coming down. “Bowling for People” is not an allowed activity!
Of course, the most important rule is to have fun. It is critical to note, however, that this rule applies to grown-ups as much as kids. While I might look silly, I find sledding to be as much fun as my kids. While parents are free to stand around at the top of the hills and chat, they really can have a lot of fun hopping on a sled as well! With more snow coming this week-end, I expect I might see a few of you at the hills!
I attended the December 12th, 2018 Hamilton Southeastern Schools Board meeting. This was expected to be an interesting meeting because the board was to approve the redistricting plans that had been developed over the previous months. Additionally, it was to be the last official board meeting for three of the seven members whose tenure ends at the end of the month.
I attempted to capture video of this meeting; however, I had limited success. I worked with a new camera, so while the video quality is better than the cell phone I’ve used in the past, I’m clearly still learning to use the camera. Additionally, I can’t control the audience around me, including the tiny kids that had been brought to the meeting that were right behind me.
Redistricting HSE Schools
The primary topic of the meeting was redistricting. Like the previous school board meeting, the HSE Superintendent, Dr. Bourff, presented a recommendation for the school board to consider. This was the same recommendation that he made at the previous school board meeting. Unlike the previous meeting, he also included several possible amendments to the proposal. You can catch my video of Dr. Bourff presenting here (sorry for the low audio in this snippet):
The first option Dr. Bourff presented as a change to the proposed redistricting plan was to move Logan’s Pointe from Southeastern elementary School and HIJH over to Durbin Elementary School and Fall Creek Intermediate/Junior High. This only impacted 19 students. This proposed change was passed by the school board.
The second option for change was to move Sunlake apartments to Harrison Parkway, and the “River” neighborhoods to New Britton Elementary School. This proposal had received a lot of discussion. This proposal would have put the “River” neighborhoods back into New Britton. The irony is that Sunlake kids would likely have to drive past New Britton to get to Harrison Parkway once the construction on 37 starts. This proposal failed to pass.
A third option for change was to move the Anchorage neighborhood from Geist Elementary School to Brook School Elementary School. This proposal only impacted 6 students that currently attend Geist. This proposed change was passed by the school board.
The fourth and final potential option for change in the proposed redistricting plan involved removing the 8% split that occurs at HIJH for students going to Fishers High School. This proposed option failed to pass by the school board.
Community Comments on Redistricting
After Dr. Bourff presented, a number of community members took time to speak. Most raised concerns regarding the redistricting plans. You can catch their comments in the following video. I bumped up the volume on this video:
School Board Redistricting Discussion
After the community talked, the school board members discussed the recommended redistricting plan and amendments. A final vote approved the redistricting plan with amendments to move Logan and Anchorage back. There would also be grandfathering for grades 3, 5, and 7; however, transportation would not be provided. Amendments to move Sunlake apartments was not approved, nor was eliminating the split at HIJH. An additional proposal to move allotments 131/132 in the Durbin area also failed to pass by the board.
The final redistricting map is currently available on the school’s web site:
Other School Board Items
There were several other items that were covered in the school board meeting.
A proposal was made and approved to move the school to a third-party audit system instead of using the Indiana State of Accounts system. An audit committee was brought up and approved in the previous school board meeting.
Also covered was an update on live streaming the HSE School Board meetings. It was stated that the school board meetings would not start streaming in January. It was stated that the school system is required to include closed captioning on the video. This was not seen as an issue. The delay was indicated to be a result of using an out-of-state company of the video streaming. This company needs to file to do business in Indiana, which will take time. It is expected that February or March is more likely to be a start time for streaming. Nothing new was stated on the 45-day retention policy. I will, however, try to record any meetings I attend and post them on a YouTube Channel for long-term retention (Fishers, The Other Side of the Tracks).
New high school courses had been presented in the previous school board meeting. The courses were presented again and approved. The courses include African Studies, International Relations, Language for Heritage Speakers, Painting III, Robotics Design and Innovation, and Science Research (Independent Study).
Thanking Go to Those Leaving
Several other topics were covered in the board member reports. The big topic, however, was the recognition of the three board members that were ending their tenures. Terry Tolle, Matt Burke, and John DeLucia will be leaving the board at the end of the month. Each of these guys brought their individual perspectives to the board. While Terry tended to be focused on beating Carmel, all three seemed to be looking out for the Kids in the district. Each contributed positively to making HSE Schools the best they could be. Losing these guys is a loss to the school system; however, hopefully those joining the board will fill the gap with fresh insights and perspectives.
My previous article presented some pictures from the Good Samaritan of Hamilton County’s holiday assistance program. It showed some of the rooms prior to the event. The event is now over for 2018 (although Good Samaritan will still be doing meals near Christmas). I was unable to get pictures that showed how the rooms looked at the end, but suffice it to say that the housewares were picked over, the food was all distributed, and the toys and books that were left were primarily the second hand toys, many of which showed a lot of wear and tare.
One thing I was able to do quickly was walk the path that clients getting assistance would follow. I took the below video the morning of the event right before clients were going to be allowed to sign in and start their “shopping”.
People who have signed up and been approved for this event start lining up the night before. When I arrived at the building about 30 to 45 minutes before the doors were to open, the line stretched out to the parking lot and down the sidewalk. It was hundreds of people standing in line in the cold. Out of respect for their privacy, I don’t have pictures to show the line, but take my word – it was long.That event started at 8:00am, which is when the line started moving. It kept going for 6 or 7 hours with the last of the people “shopping leaving between four and five in the evening.
This year I spent more time helping with issues in the toy/kid room, but still took the time to walk a few families through. I was joined by high school kids, parents with middle aged children, and adults who were also working with families, by helping them work through the kids clothes and toys. While it seems like an easy task, it is tougher than you’d think. It also, however, is rewarding to help families find that near perfect toy for their kids.
For me, the hope is that when they get home, they will have what they need to have a very merry Christmas holiday.