Looking ahead: Several Zionsville projects coming in 2021

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Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron is excited for several projects the town has planned for 2021. (Submitted photo)

Town of Zionsville officials are confident that a number of 2021 projects will benefit residents and businesses in a variety of ways.

Among the top projects are the Zionsville Gateway Area and developing Zionsville Wayfinding Master Plan. The town also plans to launch its new community enrichment grant program.

Community grants

At the beginning of the year, Zionsville announced the creation of a community enrichment grant committee, which will distribute grants biannually to assist local nonprofits that promote the town, support Zionsville businesses, create a public facility, improve infrastructure or celebrate diversity and inclusion in the community, according to grant guidelines.

The grant program is, in part, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron said.

“COVID has also really hit nonprofit organizations, and we didn’t really have much of a way of addressing what their needs are because the funding source for the COVID relief funds have been the village (tax increment financing) district, and that has geographic restraints to it,” Styron said.  “As we started thinking through in the future, we realized that we have a very healthy balance in our food and beverage tax revenue source, and that has been used in the past, every year, for programmatic budget items for nonprofit organizations in Zionsville, so we thought, ‘Let’s put some more process around it.’”

The grants will be awarded at the discretion of a five-community-member committee tasked with reviewing and evaluating rounds of applications each financial quarter. Three committee members are appointed by the mayor and two are appointed annually by a town council majority. Members are eligible for term renewal after serving a one-year term.

Grants will be awarded March 30 and Sept. 30. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days before the grants are to be awarded.

For more, visit zionsville-in.gov/577/Community-Enrichment-Grant.

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A work crew demolishes a building formerly occupied by PNC Bank. (Submitted photo)

Gateway area

To reimagine what Styron has called a “blighted entryway” to Zionsville, the town last summer demolished a building formerly owned by PNC bank and a locksmith shop at the northwest corner of Main and Sycamore streets, marking the first stage of the town’s plan for the Zionsville Gateway Area.

Later in 2020, the town asked residents for input to determine the best use of the entryway. Styron said the town has collected responses after public and virtual listening sessions and plans to deliberate with the town’s planning commission and town council before publicly announcing next steps for the area.

Styron said neighboring property owners also would be consulted during the process.

“We recognize we need to take into consideration where certain amenities are placed and be respectful of existing residential spaces and realize that there are some commercial uses that are better suited for different spaces because of the nature of the adjoining properties,” Styron said. “We’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback, and we have a variety of different scenarios with regard to those different use patterns.”

Also critical to the town’s plan will be the intersection between Main and Sycamore streets and road infrastructure needed to accommodate the town’s vision for the area, Styron said. She estimated town officials would be able to share a proposal after the plan commission and town council considers options for the area through February and possibly March.

“We’re still in the middle of this because, really, what we want to do is get the planning commission and town council to have a shared vision,” Styron said.

Wayfinding Master Plan

Zionsville recently launched the Wayfinding Master Plan to direct residents and visitors to town amenities, attractions and businesses.

The wayfinding system will “connect pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles with not only the Village Business District and downtown area, but other shopping areas, parks, trailheads and community attractions,” according to the website gettingaroundzville.com,

“The hard to talk about (aspect) in regard to wayfinding is you don’t know that it is something that is important until you go into a community, and you realize what it can do for you,” Styron said. “What we’re looking at doing here in Zionsville is a little bit broader than just (a) simple approach. We know a driving reason people come to Zionsville is school, parks and quality of life, but there’s not signage that helps you orient yourself near different parks or recreation facilities, or even schools, and that can be helpful in terms of both guiding people who are looking to discover something they didn’t even know is available to them or if they’re on their way to go somewhere for the first time.”

Besides assisting visitors, Styron said the plan will benefit residents by reminding them of the town’s myriad offerings.

Residents are invited to participate in virtual meetings scheduled for Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to review survey results and discuss signage needs and placement options (the agenda is the same for both meetings).

  To register for the meetings, visit gettingaroundzville.com/events.

Next week, Current in Zionsville will examine the town’s parks and recreation department’s plans for new parks and the Big 4 Rail Trail.