Westfield projects will reach major milestones in 2014
2014 will be a pivotal year for numerous multi-year projects – either by completing work or starting construction.
Grass is planted, lights are up and artificial fields have been sowed, but plenty of work remains on the 360-acre sports campus which will feature a full-range of championship-level outdoor facilities for baseball, softball and field sports including soccer, football, rugby, field hockey and lacrosse.
“There’s a lot to finish up on construction,” Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said.
In addition to last minute details, the city is working on naming rights and sponsorships.
“We’re really concentrating on finding and choosing a lot of providers,” Cook said. “Concession rights, various vending rights like T-shirts, pedal bikes and boats. There is a myriad of different vending rights.”
In addition to vendors, Westfield is working to contract technology products. Cook said the city is creating an app for the iPhone and iPad that will allow guests to see game locations, times and parking instructions.
Grand Park is a planned youth and adult recreational sports village that will host a wide range of athletic competitions, local, regional and national sports tournaments, and community sporting events. Cook said the first soccer matches will be held in March and a public grand opening is slated for late spring.
“I’m just as excited about talking about it as when we were discussing what we were going to build – it’s changed from physical to operational,” he said.
Once completed, Westfield will own the sports complex but Henke Sports Management will coordinate events, oversee operation and stakeholders (Indiana Bulls and Indiana Soccer Association). Cook said Grand Park Sports Campus is anticipated to attract 650,000 visitors in its first year of operation and 1.5 million visitors in future years.
Cook said the city’s focus has never left Grand Junction Park and Plaza, but as Grand Park enters the final phases of construction the activity in downtown Westfield will heighten.
“We recognize that Grand Junction is the crown jewel of pulling this entire city together. Grand Park is an industry, Grand Junction will be our community,” he said. “Developing Grand Junction is much more time consuming, complicated and involved than Grand Park.”
Grand Junction is a 120-acre programmable space for all seasons south of Jersey Street between Mill and South Union streets. Cook said the biggest asset of the development is its waterways. However; it also is the most problematic.
“Dealing with waterways is extremely difficult. The government entities dealing with water go all the way up to the White House – DNR, Fish and Wildlife, Army Corp of Engineers, FAA and FFA,” he said. “Because it is very difficult, it makes it much more rewarding in the end.”
The city has purchased and demolished eight homes and has purchase agreements with three others – two will be bought in 2014 and one is closing in 2015. To date, the city has acquired almost a block and a half of the old downtown area.
“The first real construction on the plaza itself will take place in 2014,” Cook said, adding work on the plaza for 2014 includes Mill Street, which serves as the west and south border of the project. “In 2014 we will begin the outline of the plaza. The internal piece of the plaza could begin construction in 2015.”
The coming year also includes a setup in the planning as the city will use a design and build concept where companies will be bid for the right to design and oversee construction of Grand Junction.
“We’ll take them the drawings and vision and have them finish it to a tangible project,” Cook said.
U.S. 31 construction
Giant mounds of dirt are already in position and structures have been cleared on the west side of the U.S. 31-Ind. 32 intersection. While the site was developed in 2013, construction of the interchange begins in 2014 – and is expected to last until 2015.
“Ind. 32 will be affected but (Ind.) 32 will never be totally closed,” Cook said. “It will not happen – east/west traffic will not be shut off. Restrictions? Yes, but there will never be a total closure.”
Cook said there’s a lot of work before traffic gets shifted. Other roadwork taking place along U.S. 31 includes 191st Street, which will be more like 151st Street with a temporary signal at 196th Street this winter. 196th Street will be used as an additional access of U.S. 31 when 191st Street is compromised.
A decision should come for the controversial project, the “Westfield Towers,” which was first announced in June. Cook wants to create an identity for the city to distinguish itself along U.S. 31 with a pair of 100-foot towers. Cook said the structure combines a masonry base with metal-mesh and a top with lights.
“We’re pricing them and then it’s up to the Grand Junction Task Group and city council to decide if they want to proceed,” he said.
A preliminary estimate has the towers costing $750,000 to $1 million each. Cook said funding would come from a small portion from the city’s sale of its water and wastewater utilities to Citizens Energy.
“The most economic time is to do that during the construction of the bridge,” Cook said. “If we are going to build them they will have to be done during construction of the interchange. It saves money immensely.”
Westfield Youth Assistance Program
Cook’s favorite topic to discuss is Westfield YAP is a program created by the City of Westfield, the Westfield Washington Schools and the Hamilton County Probation Division, and the goal is to identify youth in need of assistance prior to becoming part of the growing juvenile and criminal justice system.
“It’s very rewarding to see communities respond to what most people think the government is doing,” he said. “We’re successfully putting kids back on track.”
The program was piloted in Westfield and is now growing traction within Hamilton County and around the state.
“It’s already in Noblesville and expanding to Fishers (this school year),” he said. “We’re having talks with Carmel and Zionsville is planning to start next school year along with Sheridan and Hamilton Heights.”
In 2014, the program also is partnering with Indiana University to provide empirical data that Cook said will “help us better evaluate ‘at-risk’ children.”
“It also will give us historical data on attendance rate, graduation rate and grades of those that have gone through or are going through the program,” he said. “We can use that data to secure grants and funding.”