Election of 1st mayor, downtown redevelopment and construction on school academies take place
By Nancy Edwards
This past year, local residents have witnessed some major changes: the announcement that the town will become a second-class city, a new outside amphitheater for concerts and other cultural events, breaking ground for downtown redevelopment and the announcement of new senior academies for HSE and Fishers high schools.
“2014 will bring a lot of exciting things; it’s going to be a busy year,” Fishers Town Manager Scott Fadness said.
From town to city
Residents will be voting for their first mayor, city clerk, three-at-large council members and six district council members; these positions will take office on Jan. 1, 2015.
Responsibilities of a mayor that differ from a town manager include the ability to hire and terminate department heads, execute the budget and set a public policy. City council members will appropriate money and pass ordinances. The day-to-day operations will be handled by the mayor instead of the council.
Those running for mayor include Fadness, current town council member Renee Cox, former town council member Walt Kelly, and Marvin Scott, a professor of Sociology at Butler University. Primaries will be held in May.
Construction projects will include the addition of a roundabout at 106th Street and Crosspoint Road and 106th Street and Geist Road. Lantern Road and Technology Drive will also be redeveloped.
“It’s been a problem intersection for many years,” Fadness said.
Significant work will continue to make progress downtown for the impending arrival of the Depot at Nickel Plate, which will include 15,700 square feet of commercial space, 242 apartments and 430 parking spaces in a garage. Completion is scheduled for late 2014.
Parks and recreation
A new park will be constructed at 101st Street and Cyntheanne Road. Cyntheanne South Park, a temporary name for the park, will offer “a massive sledding hill, mountain bike and hiking trails, a fishing pond, and tree houses,” Tony Elliot, director of Fishers Parks and Recreation, said.
In addition, Roy G. Holland Park, 1 Park Drive, will have a new playground a splash park.
“The current playground is very dated so we are excited to update the amenities and opportunities for safe, accessible play,” Elliot said.
Riverside Junior High School’s baseball field will receive a small makeover, with upgraded ball diamonds and the addition of a third diamond; the field will be updated by spring 2015.
Ambria, a housing addition just north of 96th Street and Olio Road, will be connecting with M/I Homes to develop a trailhead and pocket park near the neighborhood’s entrance.
New developments are taking place for the arts as a result of the Fishers Arts Council laying the foundation of success in 2013 with the arrival of Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, mural art in Pocket Park, and art projects in Town Hall.
“Artists have come out of the woodwork,” Jocelyn Vare, president of the Fishers Arts Council, said of the rise in art and musicians at the amphitheater.
The Fishers Community Art Master Plan, approved recently by Fishers Town Council, “establishes the long-term vision to facilitate the thoughtful placement of public art in Fishers,” she said.
Highlights of the plan include potential sites for public art, evaluation criteria for art proposals, funding, installation and maintenance. Short-term priorities for 2014 include networking and engaging with local artists, partnering with a variety of local organizations such as HSE Schools and Conner Prairie and continuing the success of art in Fishers Town Hall’s art gallery. The chalkboard art in Pocket Park also will continue this spring with the phrase, “Someday I will,” which gives visitors a chance to complete the sentence.
Vare encourages the public to get involved with the arts, whether offering talent or suggesting ideas.
“Anyone of any age or artistic talent can get involved,” she said. To connect with the Fishers Arts Council, visit www.facebook.com/FishersArt.
Advances in education
“HSE Schools will see some significant changes during 2014 with facilities as well as academics,” Marianna Richards, director of school and community relations for HSE Schools, said.
Construction of two senior academies, one for Fishers High School, and the other for HSE High School, began in November and will continue to progress steadily in 2014.
“Installation of the foundations will take place during the early months of the year, but progress will become more visible during early summer as walls of the first floor of the academies go up and late summer as work begins on the second stories,” Richards said.
The academies will add a 1,000-student capacity to each high school and are set to open August 2015.
In January, the school board will review a proposal for a three-year roll-out plan for a one-to-one computer program. The plan would include a timeline for implementation at different grade levels and plans for continued professional training, curriculum development and communications. Developmental skills would include collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking skills.