Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear delivered his annual “State of the City” address to the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce this afternoon at Harbour Trees Golf Club, 333 Regents Park Lane.
Noblesville’s infrastructure was a featured section of this year’s message:
The city is conducting an engineering survey and has budgeted $16 million for the State Road 37 project. Hamilton County and Fishers are providing an additional $4.5 million each to the northern section, but the city needs to work with its partners at the state level for funding options to deliver a free-flowing interchange system to help relieve traffic congestion.
“One of the most transformative projects facing the city in the coming years is State Road 37, the key north-south corridor through our community,” Ditslear said.
Part of the State Road 37 southern project is the interchange at 146th Street. Storm drain work will begin in 2018 with construction to begin in 2019 or 2020. As this work is being done, the City of Noblesville is considering options for the nearby Herriman Boulevard and 146th Street intersection as a potential roundabout. Ditslear said these improvements “will assist with traffic flow in that area and infrastructure changes at Stony Creek Business Park will greatly benefit those businesses and the thousands of people who depend on this intersection every day.”
“In my opinion, Pleasant Street is just as important as improvements to State Road 37 and is one of our top priorities. The Pleasant Street project is vital to creating a connector between eastside and westside Noblesville while relieving traffic from State Road 32 and through our historic downtown square,” Ditslear said.
Noblesville began preliminary planning this summer to widen and extend Pleasant Street from State Road 37 to Hague Road while improving pedestrian crossings. To better inform citizens of this project, the city will be hosting a public information meeting later this year or in early 2018. Another portion of the city’s work on Pleasant Street is a planning and economic impact study of the corridor including Eighth Street, Southwest Quad neighborhood, and downtown.
“It is time to bring some definite answers to residents who live along and near Pleasant Street, and to proceed toward the next objective, which is construction,” Ditslear said.
The city is being proactive and in 2018 will convert the intersection of 19th and Pleasant streets into a roundabout. This project will be 80 percent funded by state grants. One major roundabout completed in 2017 was the Five Points intersection of Greenfield and Christian avenues and 10th Street. The improvement removed a stoplight and has decreased congestion along one of the city’s main corridors.
Other highlights of the State of the City speech include:
* New Police Station – The city is continuing discussions with Firestone about the potential for a new police station at the site. The current station was built for 32 officers, but the department now has 95 employees and desperately needs more space. “So far, the feedback we have received from council members and the public has been very favorable as to the need. It is our intention, if financing is approved, to begin construction next year for a 2019 opening.”
* Police Changes – The police department implemented new strategies to tackle 21st Century challenges with its Intelligence Unit, Problem-Oriented Policing Unit, and Traffic Unit. At the patrol level, officers are now serving in a particular district for six-month intervals, allowing them to better know the people and places within that geographic area.
* Fire Department – The Noblesville Fire Department has replaced its Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses to provide firefighters with updated models that include new technology such as a wireless heads-up display and a communication system within the masks. The department also has ordered a new ladder truck, fire engine, and ambulance to be delivered in early 2018.
* Winter Ice Rink – Noblesville Parks and Recreation has contracted to install a 50-foot by 80-foot temporary ice skating rink at Federal Hill Commons from Black Friday to early January. The rink will be open daily and can accommodate more than 250 people at once.
* Free Wi-Fi – Federal Hill Commons now has free public Wi-Fi. It is the first Noblesville Park to offer this amenity to its guests’ thanks to a donation from Taylored Systems.
* Seminary Park – The city is taking a fresh look at Seminary Park. Potential improvements include additional trees, benches, lighting, and pathways; gardens; historical signage and a wrought-iron fence and arched gateway that harkens back to the site of Second Ward School; and upgrades to the gazebo. Some form of improvement is planned to begin in 2018.
* Bike Share Program – The city is looking at creating two Zagster bike-sharing locations in downtown Noblesville next year. Officials also are working on bike share connectivity throughout Hamilton County and looking for Noblesville businesses to host additional bike share stations to expand the city network.
* Downtown Streetscape Plan – Another initiative to improve downtown is the comprehensive streetscape master plan. Its goal is to create a “wow factor” so people know when they enter and leave downtown Noblesville. The plan is in the early stages, but it will extend the downtown borders further out from the Square and create a more functional space for cars and people.
* Riverwalk – Last month, city and Hamilton County officials joined together to open the final phase of the Riverwalk. This phase was the missing link to complete a half-mile of trail along the east side of the White River. It also has led to a tentative agreement to begin another City-County project – a pedestrian walkway is being designed for the Logan Street Bridge to be opened in 2019, which will provide another safe passageway over the White River.
* Riverwalk Extension – Ditslear announced that the city is extending the Riverwalk trail further south. This additional one-mile stretch will run from Division Street to Southside Park – meaning the Riverwalk will connect two city parks (Southside and Forest parks). The trail will be designed this winter and begin construction next summer.
* Midland Trace Trail – Noblesville recently completed its first phase to extend Midland Trace Trail from Gray Road to Hazel Dell Road. The city is now working on creating a trailhead off of Hazel Dell, which will include restrooms, a water fountain, parking, benches, and a bike repair and air station. It is expected to open around Memorial Day. Also in 2018, work will begin on Phase II to further extend the trail east to Willowview Road as part of the overall plan to run the Midland Trace into downtown.
* Phosphorus Removal Plant – Noblesville Utilities is preparing to build a phosphorus removal plant, a federal unfunded mandate that will cost the city $9 million. This is due to harmful algae blooms impacting fish habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Noblesville is about to break ground on this project and expects construction to take approximately one year to complete.