Commentary by Larry Lannan
Most of you have read about the Fishers Town Council vote to demolish the old train station building at the municipal complex and replace it with a large mixed-use building and parking garage. The building will house office space and apartments.
The public hearing and subsequent council debate were quite a spectacle by Fishers Town Council standards. Allow me to make a few comments on what I witnessed.
It’s my view that the old train station is neither iconic nor historic, as some have argued. It was built to look a little like the original train station in Fishers, but larger to allow it to become a community facility. I like the old 1996 train station and appreciate its connection to Fishers history, but the structure does need replacing.
Some argued the town did not give citizens enough notice of its proposal to tear down the station. It is true town staff asked for public comment about a year ago on the overall downtown plans, which included replacing the train station. There were media reports last September saying the train station would likely be demolished.
However, the specific plans to replace the station were not known until the council meeting agenda was released Thursday evening before the Monday night session. It is understandable town staff needed to keep the deal quiet until it was complete. But there was no full announcement from the town until the day of the meeting and after media began reporting the plans. Citizens have a point; more information made public earlier would have allowed local citizens to better evaluate the project.
The Fishers Town Council is planning to transform downtown Fishers into a destination with residents, offices, retail stores and restaurants. The town is putting money into the initial projects to make this happen.
There are serious risks the town is taking. Will people rent the apartments? Will businesses rent the office space? Will retail stores and restaurants locate in the complex and be successful? Can Fishers do all this and still manage traffic on 116th Street?
In this case, the train has left the station. The land and money have been committed. The developers are ready to go.
As citizens and taxpayers of Fishers, no matter how you feel about the projects, they are coming. No matter who is elected mayor, these projects will continue. So, we all have an interest in their success.