Greenwood 2020: A City’s Vision for Its Future
A Vision for Greenwood’s Future
| Joyce Long, Photos | Amanda DeBusk
While no one can predict the future, the city of Greenwood is planning for it. In fact, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers expects great things to happen as the city begins to consolidate its offices and increases its partnerships with the community. Primarily, the mayor’s priorities focus on a balanced budget, the new City Center, economic development, and enhanced parks, trails, and activities for all ages.
“We have taken some bold steps toward the revitalization of downtown Greenwood. The most significant is the acquisition of the Presnell building for use as the new City Center. It will become the cornerstone of downtown redevelopment.”
A New City Center
Currently, several of the city’s offices are located two blocks north of Old Town Greenwood at 2 North Madison Avenue while other government departments are scattered throughout the city. For example, the City Court is located at 186 Surina Way while the city’s planning, engineering, and building divisions and legal department are at 225 South Emerson Avenue. The Sanitation and Street Departments’ address is 367 South Washington Street. Consolidating these offices in a single location will improve government efficiency. “Residents will benefit from one-stop service. We won’t need to hand them a map to find offices. Also, potential residents and businesses seeking to relocate to Greenwood will leave with a much better impression of the city.”
In addition, Greenwood has purchased the parking lot on the southwest corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue in order to keep it public. Its availability is crucial to several downtown businesses. “We have started with the tenet of being business friendly in an affordable and invigorating environment.”
Part of the bond money recently approved by the Common Council was dedicated to improvements around the new City Center. The Splash Park, located at the site of the old pool just west of the City Center, is a great example of the city’s facelift. Due to open mid summer, the Splash Park will prevent the vacant site from becoming an eyesore, creating an attractive amenity to complement the area’s redevelopment.
City officials anticipate the Madison Avenue north-south corridor continuing to be a vital part of Greenwood’s personality. Nicknamed Madison Village, these shops and restaurants create a unique area organically growing on its own. The old city building will most likely become a part of this village landscape while the new City Center will become its anchor.
Christian Maslowski, executive director of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, considers Madison Village a viable option to bring identity to an existing set of shops, restaurants, and businesses. “What I like is that it’s added a bit of culture and unique amenities to our community. Because this area is unlike any other part of Greenwood in its focus on the arts, it enhances the city’s reputation for being a dining and retail destination for south central Indiana.”
I-65 at Worthsville Road
According to Mayor Myers, the planned I-65 interchange at Worthsville Road provides an answer to smoothing east-west traffic flow and will act as a gateway to the southern part of Greenwood. Structure Point, an Indianapolis-based civil engineering firm, has been hired to do a master plan of this area that will include upper-scale restaurants, professional businesses, and light industrial companies.
In anticipation of this new corridor, the city’s planning department has minimized entrances onto Worthsville Road, allocating connector roads for subdivision entrances and exits. Large easements, allowing for pathways, have been established on each side of Worthsville Road. The Redevelopment Commission recently awarded a contract to widen Worthsville Road between US 31 and I-65 with phase one beginning soon.
Not only will Greenwood benefit from this new interchange, but also I-65 should become less congested. According to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), this exit will reduce expected crashes on I-65 and nearby area surface streets. INDOT’s technical findings also indicate this new interchange will reduce traffic at the crowded Main Street exit by 30 percent. “While Main Street is considered our premiere gateway, this exit will open up an east-west corridor that has been needed for some time. We are focused on manageable and responsible development for this project.”
With the focus on improving traffic, city planners want this corridor to reflect economic development that is inviting and visionary. It will most likely be the main pathway to Freedom Park, where an aquatics facility is being proposed. The aquatics facility is expected to attract people from counties throughout central Indiana.
City Parks & Trails
Seventy-nine-acre Freedom Park, 850 Stop 18 Road, is the newest centerpiece joining Greenwood’s extensive park system that includes Craig, Westside, Northeast, Northwest and its annex, Summerfield, Old City, Trails, Children’s Garden, Surina Square, and University Parks.
Mike Sawa, president of the Greenwood Parks Board, expects Freedom Park’s current expansion to increase usage. The large shelter house, to be completed by the end of summer, can be divided into sections, giving more scheduling flexibility. In addition, pet owners will enjoy the new dog park.
A family-friendly city, Greenwood expects even more development in its parks system. The city’s long-term plans include extending its trails and widening its current sidewalks to create safer ways to navigate heavily-traveled roads like Fry, Smith Valley, and Worthsville.
Because vision takes work, challenges arise. Consequently, Greenwood faces the same infrastructure and development issues as its neighbors. As an example, the downtown’s storm water and sanitation system is almost 50 years old. Updates are critical before the city develops reconstruction in the Main Street and Madison Avenue area. The mayor anticipated these issues and is leading the city in addressing them.
Another challenge involves marketing Greenwood’s assets. “The biggest challenge Greenwood faces is that everyone – Greenwood, Indianapolis, and Franklin – is competing for the same business, so Greenwood needs to offer a unique solution. We need to find our niche to attract them.”
While economic development is significant, community involvement provides the catalyst for Greenwood’s vision to become a reality. Mayor Mark Myers’ dream for Greenwood depends upon “an open and transparent government that partners with the community to make great things happen.”
Joyce Long, Greenwood Middle School language arts teacher from 1992-2000, has called Center Grove home for the past 25 years. Currently Joyce works as the communications coordinator for Center for Global Impact and is passionate about engaging people to empower the poor.