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Meeting Minutes - February 27, 2012

Posted 3:42 PM by

COLLEGE AVENUE—42nd, 46th,49th STREETS

This meeting took place at the College Avenue Branch Library, well attended by 40 neighbors, plus 25 sophomore students from Ball State University.  The meeting began with Vera Adams explaining the design recommendations displayed by her Ball State University Urban Planning 202 class titled “Site Planning and Design”.  The students prepared site designs for each character area on the College Avenue corridor.  The designs were posted on the walls of the meeting space, and will soon be available for review via a link on the MKNA website.

The meeting continued with a presentation by Mary Owens and Tom Gallagher on the topic of Form Based Code—what it means, how it may be used, the advantages it provides for neighbor input into “how we would like our neighborhood to look over the next 25 years”.  Specifics of this presentation are made in the MINUTES of FEBRUARY  16 2012 posted on the MKNA website: www.mkna.org   home page—“Meridian Kessler Plan”.

When asked “What do you like about your neighborhood?, we again heard themes relating to the proximity of local businesses serving local needs. We heard of the preference for businesses and streetscapes which will serve to make our neighborhood a “destination” where a pedestrian sensibility persists, rather than a transit corridor to downtown.

The importance/priority of preserving existing historic buildings is emphasized.

49TH AND COLLEGE:

Some neighbors referred to a preference for decreased setbacks of buildings, to maintain a “village/pedestrian” sensibility.  Others preferred increased setbacks to allow for better visibility upon entering traffic if parking is located in front of businesses. Options for parking to allow for limited setbacks included improved maintenance of the alleys with parking behind buildings, as well as striping of curbside parking to maximize the efficiency of streetside parking.

The request for the limitation of heights of buildings to 2-3 stories was made, out of respect to the single story residences situated on the side streets behind the businesses.  Neighbors request that the same sensibility used to create a “sense of space” along the College corridor, should be considered to maintain a “sense of space” for the homes a block on either side of the corridor. Others felt that we may need some flexibility in the heights of buildings facing College, in order to promote the increased density needed to support transit along the corridor.

Consideration should be made for the preservation of the brick building on the NW corner of 49TH and College.

A persistent theme, heard throughout our sessions, is the need for more “green space”.  Neighbors acknowledge that this does not require entire blocks for use as a park, but may be as simple as tree planting, addition of planters to paved areas, and even consideration for temporary plantings in vacant lots still awaiting development, such as on the northwest corner of 49th and College.

There is a need for more bike racks throughout the neighborhood.  Cyclists are reluctant to ride their bikes to destinations if there is no safe parking space for them.

All agreed on the desirability of deeper sidewalks to promote a sense of safety when walking on College.

Neighbors would like to see attention paid to store front window signage which might be more obtrusive than necessary to promote business. Residents would like to see more façade improvement of older storefronts, especially along 49th St.

Again, mention was made of the corner of 52nd and College, and the use made of setbacks, landscaping, and barriers to promote a pleasant pedestrian/outdoor dining experience.

Extension of sidewalk “café” dining might be encouraged.

46th AND COLLEGE:

Discussion addressed the vacant Marathon lot. One neighbor requested another gas station at the location which has been remediated and certified by IDEM to a commercial, but not residential standard.  Other neighbors noted concerns over increased trash, crime, and noise associated with gas stations. A parking lot was mentioned as a use for the space, if it utilized appropriate landscaping to minimize the appearance of the asphalt.  Others sought more “destination” uses for the space, such as a restaurant, a gym or other recreational space, or a “village mixed use” type of structure. One neighbor suggested copying the buildings along Delaware and 16th with overhanging second and third stories to promote a sense of space, but allow denser use.

Consideration should be made for the fact that lurking under the Double 8 Foods and Big Al’s store are some fabulous historic architecture.

42ND AND COLLEGE:

Attention focused on “re use” of existing, historical buildings. The adaptive use of the former Kroger building was considered—perhaps a specialty grocery, farmer’s market type of use.  The request was also made for and Entertainment/theatre venue for the Prather Masonic Hall—with a focus on uses for younger neighbors.  The statistic was cited that the demographic of “0-18” years of age is the second largest demographic in the neighborhood, yet we fall short of providing destinations within the neighborhood for that age group.

INFRASTRUCTURE:

Attention turned to infrastructure needs along the corridor. 

Traffic calming measures were again approached, to include curb bumpouts, bicycle lane and curbside parking markings not only to promote more efficient and safe use of bicycles and of curbside parking, but to remind motorists that they are “sharing” the road. The request was made that such markings need to be easily visible, and that some consideration be given to “intuitive” lane changes to avoid motorist confusion. The concern over “traffic calming” and its potential effect on maintaining unobstructed transit through the neighborhood was addressed.  These “traffic calming” measures are not intended to obstruct traffic, but will promote safer transit along the corridor in that they will help maintain legal speed limits and other traffic statutes currently being ignored by some commuters. A suggestion was made for more stop signs along College.  Although that might cause obstruction of traffic flow, the possibility of stop lights coordinated to allow fluid passage of cars IF they are following the speed limit might better serve the purpose. Another neighbor suggested that “lane markings” might vary along the corridor with one type of marking to serve the needs of businesses, and another to serve the needs of residences along other blocks of the corridor.

A general request was made for better pedestrian crosswalk markings with pedestrian scale lighting for the corridor.

The need for paving, lighting, and maintenance of alleys was, once again, emphasized.

Green Infrastructure:

Discussion ensued after Karl Selm’s presentation on aspects of Green Infrastructure and its potential for the College Corridor. Specifics of this presentation, including bioswales, and green plantings of curb bumpouts, may be found in the MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 16.

The use of permeable paving for the alleys was discussed.  Although the durability seems equivalent to other forms of paving, some expressed concern over the increased cost of these materials, and hence fewer miles of alleys which would be repaved for the same amount of money. Others spoke of the long term savings, in that with more efficient use of the run off of rain water and sewer overflow, the resultant cost of damage and remediation might provide a cost savings in the long run. We also discussed suggestions made at previous meetings, to “keep the design bar high”.  We emphasized that this current form of neighborhood interaction is to compile a “wish list” of needs.  Although all suggestions may not be implicated initially due to cost, we would like to list all our wishes with the hope that as future funds become available, more and more of our wishes may be realized.

Another suggestion for parking pavements included driveable, permeable pavements which would allow for some green grass, but also allow parking.

Note was made that the technology for “green roofs” is advancing, such that these might be considered for structurally sound existing buildings as well as new construction..

All agreed on the need for increased landscaping, green space, and trees throughout the corridor.

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Meeting Minutes - February 16, 2012

Posted 6:39 PM by

MINUTES NEIGHBORHOOD MEETINGFEBRUARY 16,2012:  COLLEGE AVENUE—KESSLER TO 52nd

The meeting opened with a power point presentation by Tom Gallagher introducing the concept of Form Based Code (FBC) and its use as it pertains to the Meridian Kessler Plan (MKP).  He described this effort as “a moment of opportunity” with FBC functioning as the tool offered by the City to neighbors who will compile a “wish list” for how our neighborhood will look over the next twenty years.  When completed, FBC, incorporated into the MKP, will serve as an aid to local leaders and boards as development decisions are made for our neighborhood.   Zoning is protection from the bad; Form Based Code is focused on “getting to the good”.  The two work hand in hand—with zoning being general and flexible, and FBC (an “over lay” to zoning) being detailed and specific to place. FBC represents the visual, and, apart from code, addresses specifics such as streetscape, materials, building heights etc.  It includes a study of proportions to create a pedestrian/visual sense of well being.  He asked the question “How do we want to live together as neighbors?” and ended with the quote “we make our places, thereafter they make us”.

COLLEGE AND KESSLER:

Comment was made that we should “set the bar high” as we move forward with design issues.  Although not every request may be fulfilled, we should not hesitate to define all the parameters we would like to see in the FBC. These requests may be recorded, with the understanding that some items on our “wish list” may not be currently obtainable due to cost.

When asked “what do you love about your neighborhood”, responses included businesses like “Binkleys”, a neighborhood pub, and other similar businesses which serve our community. Neighbors would like to move away from the concept that the area exists as a conduit for moving traffic downtown, to the concept that it is a “destination” in and of itself. Neighbors are looking for consolidation of single service vendors which will provide a “shopping experience”.  Comment was made that due to cost restraints, it is unlikely that single vendors could afford new building, and might require a retro fit into existing buildings in order to be viable. The suggestion followed that perhaps the “village mixed use” concept might help alleviate some of these cost issues. Referring to the AT&T building, the audience sought a building façade which better integrated with the surrounding architecture.  It was agreed that setbacks may vary in order to maintain an organicity to the visual spaces.  Note was made that there exist standards defining a 2:1 height to setback ratio in order to provide an uncrowded  sense of space for pedestrians.

COLLEGE AND 54th:

Comment was made that these business nodes/intersections found their origins as trolley stops. We should seek to limit further impingement of business east and west into residential spaces unless such uses will interface smoothly with surrounding homes.

The “wish list” included burying electric lines, getting rid of all bill boards, and consideration of moving toward unified and unique lighting and signage to further define the area as Meridian Kessler. On the other hand, some preferred unbranded signs as a deference to the individuality of the ambiance of our neighborhood. Throughout the discussion, emphasis was placed on “improved connectivity for pedestrian movement”—improved walkability of College Avenue. The question was made as to the feasibility of charging “impact fees” to developers, to be used to fund improvements.

Concern was voiced about the narrow width of the sidewalk on the NW corner of  Sam’s Gyros and the placement of a utility pole in the middle of the sidewalk.  Residents claimed they were afraid to cross College Ave. at this intersection and forbade their children to ride bikes in this area because it is unsafe, both crossing College Ave. and riding east to the Monon.  A desire for improved connectivity to the Monon was also expressed.

COLLEGE AND 52nd:

It was generally acknowledged that this intersection represents the better urban experience described above. The “high bar” should be set to always move toward better integration of facades and setbacks into the surrounding area.  The Aristocrat was cited as an example of façade and landscaping which allows the restaurant to integrate into the general area and still maintain its primary goal of serving customers.

Suggestion was made that the parking area of Moe and Johnny’s is in dire need of appropriate sidewalk markings to allow for safer pedestrian passage.

Allowance was made for some consideration, on a case by case basis, for a change from residential to business, only in the sense of “village mixed use” as described in FBC.

STREETSCAPE

Traffic calming: Use of measures, noted to have been successful in other parts of the city to slow traffic and improve pedestrian safety and the pedestrian experience were discussed.  These include,

  1. Curb bump outs to prevent high speed traffic from “jockeying” for position to pass on the right at intersections, this endangering pedestrians and encouraging high speed traffic. Consideration will have to be made for necessary “right turn” lanes, and room for buses to maneuver where applicable.
  2. Marking of bicycle lanes, which will give drivers a visual reminder that they are sharing the road.
  3. Striping “on street parking” which will provide for more efficient use of potential parking spacing, and will, at the same time, further discourage high speed travel on thecurbside lane, further improving pedestrian and bicycle safety.
  4. Clear designation of pedestrian crosswalks—again, providing a visual reminder to drivers of the presence of pedestrian traffic
  5. We would like to see these calming measures extended to the east/west streets in the area, particularly the connector streets between the Monon and College.
  6. As an aside to those who feel that slowing traffic on College to within the legal limit will only drive high speed traffic on to other MK streets, we feel these traffic calming measures should be applied to all streets in the MK neighborhood, so that traffic will not  be tempted to substitute one high speed route for another.

                Bus shelters for all bus stops

                Improved lighting—the suggestion was made that rather than the current “industrial style” of lighting, we might have lighting aesthetically more conducive to the mixed use nature of our area but still providing the necessary lumens for safety

                Alleys—we would like to see all alleys paved and lighted such that they may become walking and bicycle routes apart from street traffic

                Green infrastructure:

  1. The use of permeable pavements on alley surfaces to avoid the flooding so often seen
  2. The use of “bioswales” to include landscaping in the curb “bump outs”, which will provide conduits for rain water and relieve some of the pressure from the sewer overflow
  3. Use of “rain gardens” with native species to accommodate the above
  4. Look at storm water as a resource rather than a problem with the use of “rain barrels”, etc in order to divert the rainwater to useful purposes.

All agreed that more trees and green space are needed within the neighborhood—a concept integral to the aesthetic design sought by residents and businesses alike,  where we may “work, walk, bike, shop, and play”—the beautifully descriptive phrase from the College Envision sessions

While some neighbors decried the efforts toward a Meridian Kessler Plan utilizing Form Based Code as unnecessary due to the wonderful state of the neighborhood as it is, the majority of attendees recognized that, while the neighborhood is wonderful indeed, change is an integral part of all neighborhoods, and supported the efforts to pro-actively choose the manner in which future changes may occur as well as encourage the types of development preferred by neighbors.

              


 

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Indianapolis, IN 46205
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