By Sadie Hunter
On Sept. 28, Deputy Mayor Steve Cooke filled in for Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear to deliver the annual State of the City address to the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce and community members at Harbour Trees Golf Club in Noblesville.
Cooke covered several topics, including road projects, business development, parks and trails and more. Here are highlights from the address:
Cooke announced plans to widen Pleasant Street in downtown Noblesville from two lanes to three and five lanes.
“Today, after 20 years of study, community outreach and looking at options, we are here to announce that we are moving forward with plans to widen and extend Pleasant Street,” he said.
A budget for the project hasn’t been set but is projected at approximately $35 million. The city’s administration must still seek approval from the Noblesville Common Council.
“Our project’s scope is improving Pleasant Street from (Ind.) 37 all the way to Hague Road,” Cooke said. “We think we can do that while improving access and public safety and creating opportunities for development.”
Cooke said Mayor Ditslear is looking to take the lead and work with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation and Hamilton County to assist in financing the project, which would include a new bridge over White River.
Alleys, sidewalks and repairs
Cooke said by the end of this year, the city will have spent more than $900,000 on improving the central business district with street resurfacing and improvement projects on alleys and sidewalks downtown.
“With more than 560 miles of roadway, investing in our roads is critical to our residents, public safety and economic development,” Cooke said. “That’s why Noblesville spent $2 million on its street rehabilitation projects this year alone.”
Roundabouts and connectivity
A five-point roundabout connecting Greenfield Avenue, 10th Street and Christian Avenue has been in the works for a while. Cook said the project will be bid out this winter, and construction will begin in spring 2017.
A joint project between the city and INDOT to extend Presley Drive and create a roundabout at Ind. 32/38 and Presley Drive was completed last week. For more on this project, see page 5.
Cooke also said in August the city began work to connect Boden Road with Brooks School Road.
“We anticipate that more than 10,000 vehicles will travel this new north/south roadway every day,” he said. “It will open around the end of November, weather permitting, and the road will provide another entrance to destinations like Hamilton Town Center and Klipsch Music Center. It also provides retail development opportunities south of Campus Parkway.”
Cooke said the city will hire four new police officers before the end of the year.
“These additions will allow us to identify and implement strategies to tackle 21st century challenges with the latest in intelligence-driven policing,” Cooke said.
Cooke also commended the Noblesville Fire Dept., mentioning his recent training in the county’s Fire Ops 101 program.
“I got a small taste of what it’s like to be a firefighter. Our firefighters do a wonderful job each and every day. I won’t be quitting my day job.”
QUALITY OF LIFE
It is estimated that approximately 40,000 people attended the annual Street Dance, Fourth of July festivities and summer concerts in 2016.
“We are looking at ways to kick-start new development, which includes mixed-use buildings with apartments and retail,” he said. “It’s not hard to imagine the near future of downtown, including more options for living and more retail outlets.”
Cooke said with more than 300 cultural arts events each year, it’s clear that arts and culture are thriving in Noblesville.
In August, the Noblesville Common Council approved the creation of the Noblesville Cultural Arts District, a result of years of work by the Noblesville Arts Council.
During the summer, the city worked to create its own version of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
Cooke said so far the video has been viewed more than 45,000 times on YouTube, which surpasses counts of the video made by larger cities like Las Vegas, Flint, Mich., and Toronto.
“Our goals were simple,” Cooke said. “We wanted to showcase our city and citizens and have fun. I think we accomplished that.”
To see the video, visit bit.ly/2cQ1pbH.
“We’re attracting not only new business but also new residents, as well,” Cooke said. “To help us better plan for this growth and to guide our vision for future development, the city has hired a consultant to conduct a housing study. This will help leaders make decisions based on what housing is available, what’s needed and what are the latest trends. The final study should be completed in a few weeks.”
BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT
Approximately $7 million of Hamilton County’s reported $14 million in new investment in the second quarter of 2016 has been in Noblesville. Job growth in Noblesville shows that approximately 60 percent of new jobs are coming from businesses already in the community.
In 2016, the city welcomed the first Primanti Brothers and Aspen Creek restaurants in the state. In the same area, businesses coming soon include BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Duluth Trading Company and a Japanese steakhouse.
In August, the city broke ground on the seven-story Embassy Suites hotel and conference center, which will house more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
“Another project we’ve talked about for a long time is Firestone,” Cooke said. “The mayor wants you to know we have not forgotten. We want to redevelop this area as regulations allow.”
Recently, the city completed a full environmental study of the former Firestone property.
“We’re excited about the potential this land provides the city,” Cooke said. “I wish I could say more than just ‘stay tuned,’ but stay tuned.”
“Three major projects this past year that highlight (the Stay Here, Grow Here initiative) include the expansions of Noble Industries and Helmer Scientific,” Cooke said. “Metro Enterprise Park is the city’s newest industrial Park that will encompass 35 acres. Metro Plastics and Verdure Sciences will each build their new headquarters there.”
PARKS AND TRAILS
Federal Hill Commons
As passersby by can see the quickly changing landscape of Federal Hill Commons, Cooke said the park will hold its grand opening in April 2017.
“The Commons will create a cultural and community amenity rising up from an underdeveloped floodplain to become a tremendous economic development catalyst,” Cooke said. “It will include lots of green space surrounded by walking paths. We’ll have a playground, an amphitheater and plenty of space for our farmers market. For events, there are 1,100 parking spaces located within a five-minute walk, including 181 spaces onsite.”
Finch Creek Park
“As excited as we are about the upcoming opening of Federal Hill Commons, we are already planning our next park, Finch Creek,” Cooke said. “We want this 200-acre park to offer amenities that are not available locally. So, concepts are still being defined. Next year, we anticipate starting construction on the first phase.”
Cooke said construction of the final phase of the city-county joint project will begin this fall, which will complete a half-mile of trail along the east side of the White River downtown.
“(This) will provide pedestrians and bicyclists the opportunity to travel from downtown into Forest Park without using streets,” Cooke said. “We’re excited for the opportunity this will create for even more river activation in the future.
Midland Trace Trail
In the summer of 2017, the city will begin constructing the first phase of its portion of the Midland Trace Trail from Gray Road to Hazel Dell Road.
“Planning and prep work for future phases is already taking place, as well,” Cooke said. “One day, we envision this trail extending east, beyond (Ind.) 37.”
The trailhead will sit just off of Hazel Dell Road, and Cooke said it will be unlike any other on the Midland. It will have restrooms, a water fountain, parking, benches and a bike-repair and air station.
During the summer, the city completed a portion of the Levee Trail along 196th Street to Morse Park and Beach. Cooke said the remainder of the trail will be built in two phases. When completed, the trail will connect Morse Park and Beach north to 216th Street and south to downtown.
Little Chicago Road trail
“We are also acquiring land for a trail along Little Chicago Road,” Cooke said. “This will connect existing trails on (Ind.) 38 South Harbour’s Elderberry road entrance. We are targeting next summer for construction.”