Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear delivered his annual “State of the City” address to the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce Sept. 23 at Harbour Trees Golf Club, 333 Regents Park Lane.
New projects announced during his speech include:
* Levee Trail – The city has design completed and is ready to move forward with the project along Morse Reservoir once funding is approved. This will be built in three phases using Park Impact Fees to offset costs. Once completed, the trail will connect Morse Beach Park north to 216th Street and south to downtown. Levee Trail will connect at least 7,000 people to existing trails leading to downtown.
* South 10th Street Roundabout – Ditslear unveiled the new roundabout design for the intersection of South 10th Street and Christian and Greenfield avenues. Redesigning this unique five-points intersection gives the city the opportunity to make that traffic flow easier and create a gateway on the south side of Noblesville.
* Budget – “In the next month we will pass a balanced budget, but it does not provide the adequate funding for our community to continue to maintain and grow at the rate we deserve. To get there we will need to find alternative funding,” Ditslear said. Because of the loss of $30.4 million in property tax caps since 2010, Ditslear said a trash fee is one option the city may explore to accommodate the request of adding new police officers and address infrastructure needs. Trash and recycling is a service the city provides free of charge, unlike any other in Hamilton County. If a fee or alternative funding is not available, the city will be forced to reduce or cut the high quality services we have come to expect.
* Website – Later this year the City of Noblesville will launch its updated website. Besides being user friendly, the site will have a responsive design for mobile devices. The website is cleaner and easier to navigate with visitor buttons for the items most browsers want readily available. The website also will have our social media feed to keep residents informed.
Highlights of the mayor’s speech include:
* Economic Development – Workforce development is the No. 1 issue in economic development. One proactive way the city is addressing that need is through Noblesville WORKS, a new soft skills initiative announced in July. “We want to increase awareness of these skills so that we are growing a marketable workforce for the ever-changing and modern business environment,” Ditslear said.
Since the opening of Cabela’s second Indiana store, Hamilton Town Center and Exit 210 is experiencing a lot of interest from investors and developers. “There is a lot of energy and things are going to happen – soon. While I can’t go into details, it’s very exciting,” Ditslear said. Saxony Business Park is focused on life sciences and the city is seeing companies like Pharmakon Pharmaceuticals continue to expand and new businesses like Zevacor Molecular come to Noblesville. The ventures taking place there are making a difference and will save lives.
* Riverwalk Depot – Using an irregular piece of vacant land, Riverwalk Depot is a placemaking and beautification initiative. It will serve as a trailhead for the intersection of the White River Greenway and the Riverwalk and will integrate art with function. The city’s first pocket park will open Oct. 2.
* Trails – Trails provide the amenity of connecting people with places in the outdoors. The city is currently working to extend Midland Trace Trail from Westfield to the center of Noblesville. Once completed, residents will be able to use trails to get from the heart of our city to the Monon Trail and down to Indianapolis. A trails south of Maple Avenue behind Riverside Cemetery, which will extend the Riverwalk, is currently begin built and will be completed later this year. In 2016, the city and Hamilton County will begin the third and final phase of the Riverwalk.
* Parks and Recreation – The parks department has created a partnership with Ivy Tech to create a small community center for Noblesville. The space includes a gym, wellness room, locker rooms and classrooms. This partnership allows us to provide new programming and rental opportunities such as batting cages and gyms. The facility had a soft opening this month and will begin expanded programming this winter. New additions to Forest Park include the first Expression Swing in the State of Indiana and permanent Cornhole pits, which were installed this summer. This fall, a Bocce ball court will be created.
* Planning – The city is recording an increase in the number of single family residential and commercial permits issued this year.
* Snow Removal – Shortly, the street department will open its newest facility on the eastside of Noblesville. The new facility is estimated to save drivers an hour and 15 minutes every time they have to refill. The addition of the second salt barn also means the street department can house all of its salt order before the season starts instead of receiving shipments throughout the winter.
* Road Projects – Noblesville currently has two projects under construction affecting traffic – the roundabout at Hague and Carrigan roads and the roundabout on Pleasant Street at Presley Drive. In 2016, a roundabout on State Road 32/38 by Home Depot will connect to Presley Drive and provide an alternative route parallel to State Road 37 to alleviate congestion. “It’s part of being a growing community. It also is part of trying to be more efficient with our traffic flows. Think of them as short term pains for long term gains,” Ditslear said.
* Community Engagement – In 2015, the city recruited volunteers for nine city events and 13 partner events translating into 670 total volunteer hours. Within the next few weeks the city will launch our new Adopt-A-Street program to promote clean streets and clear water. As part of the city’s focus to improve the southwest quad, the city will begin a community garden on six lots next to Southside Park in April.
* Parking Task Force – Earlier this year Ditslear created a Parking Task Force to discuss ways to address the parking situation downtown. In August, they conducted a manual car count for 1 week and recommendations from the task force will come later this year.
* Public Safety – The police and fire departments each have a five-year strategic plan to improve its services and better engage and train our citizens. The police department recently received the prestigious CALEA accreditation, which entails more internal and external accountability. In May, the fire department received a new leader as Greg Wyant was named fire chief after Ken Gilliam retired.
*Second Class City – On Jan. 1, 2016 Noblesville will become a Second Class City. One of the benefits of being a second class city is that instead of seven Common Council members there will be nine. This will allow for better citizen representation.