How do you grow a garden in Fishers, Indiana when you don’t have space or don’t want to use a chunk of your yard? You do it at a city park instead.
In my book, Spot the Difference in Fishers, Indiana: City Parks Edition, one of the parks shown is Cyntheanne Park on the Eastern side of Fishers. This park has one unique feature, the Community Gardent Program (CGP), which is to allow community members to garden. Residents of Fishers can reserve a garden plot for a summer. There is a cost of $30 to reserve either a 10-foot by 10-foot conventional or organic plot. There are also a few four-foot by nine-foot raised gardens that can be reserved.
Gardening spots can be reserved online at https://www.playfishers.com/193/Community-Garden . There is a fee for the 2020 summer season of $30 that will allow you access to your plot starting April 18. The city has a limited number of plots available, so you’ll want to reserve early to ensure you get access!
Conventional – 26 plots
Organic – 16 plots
Raised – 11 plots
While the city website indicates the gardens are open year-round, an email from the parks department indicates the gardens open on April 18th. Either way, they are available on a first come, first served basis.
Cyntheanne Park is located at 12383 Cyntheanne Road, just south of 126th Street. In addition to the gardens, it also includes a number of multi-purpose athletic fields, a play area, a natural area, a 1 mile paved trial plus a natural-area grass trail, a seating plaza, playgrounds for ages 2-12, picnic tables, restrooms, pickle-ball courts, and more.
I listened to a snippet or two of Ivanka Trump’s keynote at the CES conference in Las Vegas. Her keynote has been the subject of controversy in the tech circles because of her lack of direct involvement with technology As such, there were several calls to boycott the conference and the keynote.
The keynote was done in a more “Q&A” talk how format. I’ve embedded the keynote here:
What caused me to want to write a blog on this keynote was not the controversy, but rather an interesting tidbit she states around the 3 minute and 20 second mark. She states that there are 6.5 unemployed works, but that there are also countless people that aren’t included in the statistic because they are marginalized and outside are outside of the work force.
“Outside of the work force.”
Simply put, the number of people without jobs are not those referred to by the “unemployeed” numbers. Those numbers are missing “countless” people. How significant is countless?
Ivanka Trump tosses out an interesting statistic. Over the past year, 73% of the jobs secured in the workforce were not by people who were unemployed, but by people who were on the sidelines or “marginalized”. If there are enough uncounted, unemployed people to be taking 3 out of 4 open positions, does that mean the true unemployed number could be four times the numbers being tossed around?
The unemployment numbers are obtained via a survey that is done of thousands of people. If a person is not working, but looking for a job, then they are unemployed. If a person is working on a home business or start-up and making no money, they are considered employed. An accountant that is laid off and waiting tables to pay the rent until they find a new job is considered employed even though they are not making enough money to cover their costs nor working at the profession they are trained.
The unemployed number is determined by using the percentage of people who are looking for work, but unable to find it, divided by the total number of people in the workforce. It doesn’t account for underemployed people are those not actively looking for whatever reasons.
I don’t have the details on how many people exist that are not counted in the unemployed numbers; however, until these numbers are known, it is a bit disingenuous to use the ‘unemployed’ numbers provided by the government as an indicator of how many people need jobs. The reality is, those numbers only indicate a portion of the real number and we can’t be certain what portion that is.
Last year, the City of Fishers approved a tax increase for the Nickel Plate Trail construction. This tax was expected to raise somewhere between $7 and $9 million dollars that can be used toward constructing the trial. Additionally, the City of Fishers released a master plan for the trail that showed numerous amenities that could be included with the trail. With the tax in place and being collected and a “plan” having been created, where do things stand? What are the facts on the trail today?
Before digging deeper into where things stand today, it is
important to make a few clarifications.
First, if you review the master plan, you will note that it indicates that it is a twenty-one-year plan. This time window is not always clearly stated in meetings nor when the trail amenities are discussed. If you look at the plan and see art, LED screens, sitting areas, fountains, gardens, and other features, you should understand that these could take up to 21 years to provide. The master plan unfortunately is void of any breakdown of dates or costs for the specific items that are illustrated.
What should also be clarified is what is meant by the Nickel Plate Trail. In this case, the Nickel Plate Trail is the new trail that is expected to be built where the Nickel Plate railroad tracks previously existed. This is not the Nickel Plate Trail currently found in Cheeney Creek in Fishers. It also is not the trail identified as the Nickel Plate Trail in the 2040 plan released by the City in 2016. My understanding is that the Nickel Plate Trail identified in the 2040 city plan is now being called the Conner Trail.
Where Do Things Stand Today?
Today, the process of building the trail has started. Most
of the rails have been removed and a rocky dirt path stands where they had been
located. This city had taken bids for the removal. They chose the one company
that agreed to pay to do the removal work in exchange for keeping the removed
materials. The company did, however, include a waver that they would not remove
the rails at the intersections because of the added cost of making repairs to
roads and such.
The removal work has been done. What is worth noting is that a city board member indicated that the hundreds of thousands that the city will receive from this are not going to build the trail. Rather those funds are being given away as a donation.
To sum up where things stand today, taxes are being
collected, fees are being received, and the rails are removed.
Funding the Next Step
It is important to note that the tax increase done by the city of Fishers was an increase to the property tax rate. This means that it doesn’t just get collected the first year, but it gets collected until the City removes it. The $7 to $9 million gets collected this year, next year, the following year, and so on until the city reduces the tax rate. Of course, there is nothing that I am aware of that requires the city to use the increase for the trail beyond the first year, so there is no reason to expect it will ever go away.
One of the things the city did this past year to try to reduce cost of the trail was to apply for grants. Unfortunately, Fishers did not get the grants that they targeted. My understanding is that those funds ended up going to other places such as Indianapolis projects. The city is planning to continue to apply for additional grants. I was told that there is a plan to solicit the state for a grant to help with the trail that would be on a much larger scale and could include Noblesville and Indianapolis. Should such grants be received, that would reduce the local tax cost for residents or possibly speed up the delivering of some of the amenities.
Back in February, the Indianapolis Star reported that the initial funds from the tax increase would be used to build the first phase of the trail including amenities such as bathrooms, water fountains, landscaping and art. This first phase is expected to be the section of trail from 106th Street to 126th Street and would include an underpass on 116th Street. There were two other phases that have now been combined, which would be the trail sections from 96th Street to 106th Street and from 126th Street to 146th Street.
What’s Next for the Nickel Plate Trail Plan?
With a new tax increase in place, the funds should be ready to start constructing the trail. Being that it is now Fall, a city official indicated to me that construction will likely not start until the Spring.
The city put out RFPs for the first phase of construction
and was working with three companies. The result is that they now have a cost
projection for phase one to be approximately $5.5 million and phase 2 to be $2
This is higher than the initial rough cost estimates presented a couple of years ago of just over $4.2 million for the entire Fishers segment. The good news is that this totals within expected range for the first year of new tax dollars and gives funds for both phases of the trail. That should cover the basic trail clear across the city of Fishers.
I was told that part of what kept the first phase number lower ($5.5 versus $7 to $9 million) is the expected cost of the underpass at 116th Street. The city council member indicated that per the proposals received, this construction is expected to cost under $3 million.
When the numbers come in lower than expected for a city project, you must start asking questions. Often there is a “but” that needs to be explored.
In this case, I’ve been told that what is being built is
just the trail. No amenities, no connections to existing trails, and no other
features beyond the asphalt trail and the underpass at 116th Street.
All the sizzle or bells and whistles are future items to be addressed at
For those living down the road from the future trail on 106th or 131st Street, there will not be new connecting sidewalks that get you to the trail. That is future stuff.
So Much Promised, so Little Planned….
The NPT plan promises a lot of amenities. Expectations are high on what the trail features are going to include. The only items that have been truly planned, however, is the basic asphalt trail. While amenities have been listed and while there is a list of ideas wanted (and called a plan), there are not priorities set, there is no order set, and there are no timelines set. More importantly, even though they’ve been identified, there are no cost estimates associated with the amenities and tasks to help create a working plan.
Having said that, by the time the asphalt is laid for the initial two phases, the city should be on their second or third year of collecting the new taxes. If the money remains allocated for the trial, then there should be plenty of money to add connections to the trail and start building amenities. In fact, if the tax is never rolled off and the plan truly takes 21 years to build, then (ignoring increased assessed values and new homes) the city should have working capital of between $147 and $189 million to put against the trail. That should be enough to provide a lot of sizzle to the trail.
The trail has started and the rails are mostly gone. People are walking the existing path, which should turn to asphalt next year. It is great that the city is looking for grants and other means to offset the cost. The city has, however, also increased our taxes to build this trail. It is important that we, the residents, hold the city accountable for spending the increased in the manner they promised, and that we require the city to eliminate the tax increase when the funds are no longer being use for the trail as promised.
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Do you know how many parks are already in Fishers? Do you know what amenities already exist? We have some fantastic parks! Order a copy of my book from Amazon and not only will see the variety of parks, but you can have fun doing the “Find the difference” puzzles! Purchasing a copy helps offset my blogging costs and supports a small, local publisher!
It is happening across America and people are not saying a
word. Kids are being taken to public buildings and locked in rooms. Kids are
taken from neighborhoods and shipped to public buildings at various locations
within towns. Once there they are forced to follow rules that include
separating them by their ages and marching them into rooms. In many cases the
kids are forced to sit for upward of an hour with no access to electronics, food,
or their parents.
The rooms where the kids are kept are often locked to
prevent others from getting access to the kids. In addition to the locked
rooms, the buildings are also often secured to the level that nobody without
security clearance is allowed to get into the building and see the kids.
While kids are allowed a meal in the middle of each day,
they are forced to follow rules while eating. This includes only having a
limited time to get and eat their food before being forced back to the locked rooms.
The US Government is funding is funding this.
Do you believe kids should be locked up like this?
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Perspective is a wonderful thing; however, it is easy to twist….
Larry Lannon reported on the nice crowd that attended the safety day at Fishers yesterday that occurred on the Eastern side of town. For anyone on the West side of Fishers on September 7th between 6:00 and 11:00pm, you have to wonder if safety had been considered.
With 11,000+ people merging into a two lane road with near non-existent traffic control, safety seemed to be lost. Fortunately, it didn’t seem that anything went wrong.
But what if something had happened?
Cars within the last couple of miles were reporting speeds of roughly an hour per mile to get into Conner Prairie. With cars being bumper-to-bumper, blocking intersections, and turning right from the left lanes it is easy to say that traffic was likely the worst Fishers has ever seen. Having gotten caught in the traffic, plus having lived across from Conner Prairie for over two decades, I can say it was the worst traffic I had ever seen for them.
What if a firetruck or rescue truck had needed to get to one of the houses across from Conner Prairie in several of the divisions whose only access is from Allisonville Road? What if a firetruck had needed to get to Conner Prairie. Could it have?
Last night’s event at Conner Prairie should be an eye opener for Fishers police, fire, and political parties as far as insuring the safety of Fishers residents and guests that come to our town. There are no plans in the Fishers 2040 plan to change the road in front of Conner Prairie from two lanes to four. There are no other major access roads other than going through an older neighborhood that is always blocked with parked cars to where a single car can barely get through, let along traffic going two directions or a fire engine.
While the neighborhoods around Conner Prairie deserve an apology, I believe the more important thing is that the city needs to make sure that if future crowds are going to converge on Conner Prairie – or any other location in Fishers – that it is done in a manner that allows for the safety of the residents to be kept at top priority. This includes making sure emergency vehicles have a way to get to any of the locations in or around the park.
On a related note…..
On a related note, there has been a trend for Fishers Police to shut down North bound Allisonville Road at 131st Street when they are letting out the traffic at Conner Prairie. For those people living off of Allisonville Road and south of 141st Street, this means you are redirected away from your home. This isn’t for an accident, but rather to make it easier to let the people at Conner Prairie leave at the expense of making it harder for residents of Fishers to get home.
Why is Conner Prairie get favoritism over tax paying residents of the city?
The irony of course, is that this traffic control happens after a concert; it doesn’t happen before when it is really needed more.