By: Nate Nickel
A recent planning effort by the Town of McCordsville helps to set the stage for future development in that community’s downtown. The Town of McCordsville, in cooperation with the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University, conducted a project called “Imagine McCordsville”. Tonya Galbraith, Town Manager, explained that Imagine McCordsville really started in response to the town lacking a true downtown area. As a result, the town government wanted to proactively develop a shared vision that is in place to guide future development in the downtown.
The town approached the Community Based Projects Program at Ball State University to assist them with the project. Both fourth-year Urban Planning and second-year Masters of Landscape Architecture students would be available to work with the community. After meeting with the Imagine McCordsville Steering Committee, the students were directed to create potential development scenarios for the downtown area. These included both short-term (5-10 years) and long-term (20+ years) time horizons. The community would provide the input that would help guide, visualize and define ideas for the future downtown.
The students conducted a two and half day planning workshop at the Lord’s Acre Festival, which is an annual large fish fry and community event in McCordsville. People attending the festival could learn about the town’s demographics, see aerial photos and maps, fill out design preference surveys, participate in a SWOT exercise, and discuss planning and design ideas with the students. Using this public input, along with guidance from the town’s comprehensive plan, the students were able to develop three alternative development proposals for a town center. The students made several presentations regarding these proposals, which included to the Imagine McCordsville Steering Committee, the Town Council and at a community-wide presentation.
Several of the major themes that emerged from Imagine McCordsville process included providing retail/residential mixed-uses, compact urban form, better connectivity (including a potential commuter rail connection to Indianapolis), more bicycle and pedestrian friendly transportation options and incorporating sustainability features. Through this process, the students were able to gain valuable first-hand planning experience. In turn, Ms. Galbraith said that the students brought an energy to the process that was appreciated.
For more information about Image McCordsville, please visit the dedicated website at http://imaginemccordsville.org, or contact the Town of McCordsville at (317) 335-3151.
(Thank you to Tonya Galbraith, Town Manager of McCordsville, for her helpful assistance in preparing this blog post).