By Sam Elliott
This is the first entry in a Current in Fishers series on the city’s Fishers 2040 comprehensive plan, this week covering the planning process that led to its creation and upcoming opportunities for residents to learn more.
Pete Peterson could tell it was time to make a change in how Fishers prepared to make and handle change.
“When I was originally running for council, one of the big criticisms we made of the old council was they seemed to do these planning sessions, but it wasn’t so comprehensive. They would do bits and pieces of it,” said Peterson, a city councilor since 2012 and president in 2015. “They wouldn’t really do a major comprehensive plan… With this whole dynamic shift of the property tax cap, a new council coming into play, moving from a town to a city — it really kind of continued to laser-focus ourselves into, ‘You know what? If we want to be that world-class city our mayor says we want to be, then we better have some sort of vision moving forward and some sort of comprehensive plan to get there.”
The Fishers 2040 plan began with a steering committee that included Mayor Scott Fadness, Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath, Peterson, Plan Commission President Warren Harling, former Conner Prairie CEO Ellen Rosenthal and Memory Ventures CEO Anderson Schoenrock.
“When we sat down and started thinking about how to get started here in Fishers, we wanted to make sure that what we came up with and the process we went through was very unique and specific to Fishers, our vision, where we are and what we’re trying to accomplish,” McGrath said. “W made the decision not to hire a consulting firm to take us through the process, but rather to bring together leaders and stakeholders in our community and have it be much more staff and council and stakeholder-driven.”
Task forces were assembled to focus on four areas — Land Use, Residential, Transportation and Parks and Open Space — with co-chairs and members hand picked for what they could bring to the table.
Their first draft is a 200-page document available to view at Fishers2040.com. The plan has been presented to the city council and plan commission once each and will go back to both following a pair of public input open houses. The first is from 6 to 8 p.m. April 21 at Conner Prairie; the second is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Brooks School Elementary May 5.
“What I hope everyone takes away is that we have a vision to be a smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city and we’ve got a plan to get us there,” McGrath added. “Not just for today, but for the next 25 years and beyond. I think that’s something our community can be proud of.”