State Road 37 or Interstate 69: Preparing for Growth
Aspire Johnson County to Host “Community Conversation” on Managed Development
Writer / Kristen Parker . Photographer / Forrest Mellott
For years residents of Johnson County have been wondering, if, and/or when I-69 may be coming through the county. In September 2005, INDOT held a public meeting on Section 6, the final section to complete the interstate from Martinsville to Indianapolis. The tentative route at that time was to follow State Road 37, upgrading it to an interstate highway and connecting to I-465 with a new interchange about a mile west of the current State Road 37 and I-465 interchange.
In October INDOT announced the “resumption of the Section 6 study” and “will identify additional alternatives for completing Section 6.” It doesn’t mean that the 2005 proposed route will be abandoned; it also does not mean that State Road 37 will become I-69. The only sure thing for Bargersville and Center Grove residents is that traffic on State Road 37 will increase dramatically once Section 5 to Martinsville is complete. INDOT estimates I-69 will complete to Bloomington this December and completed to Martinsville by the end of 2016.
Aspire Johnson County will hold the first of four Community Conversations; these meetings are designed to give Johnson County residents the opportunity to become involved in the direction and future of our communities and county. The first meeting “Preparing for Growth: State Road 37: Maximizing Benefits, Minimizing Impact on Residents” will be held April 23 at Southland Community Church.
A Word About Aspire
Aspire Johnson County is a countywide initiative with the broad goal of making the county a better place to live, work and play. It is a program of Johnson County Development Corporation, consisting of more than 60 volunteers representing various areas of the community. The group has created four teams focusing on different areas. The Talent team focuses on developing, retaining and attracting a quality workforce. The Quality of Life team works on enhancing amenities, recreational opportunities and other issues that affect the quality of life in the county. The Branding team looks to establish an image for the county and help promote. The fourth group is the Infrastructure and Corridor Team.
“Aspire Johnson County established our team to look at the issues of roads, transportation, infrastructure and land use planning. We look at issues countywide, in both communities and the unincorporated areas of the county. Our knowledge of these subjects allows us to serve as a resource to raise awareness of opportunities and issues with residents. Providing residents the information they need allows them to get involved,” said Jody Veldkamp, team co-captain.
Because of Aspire’s work in this area, the initial Community Conversation will look at how communities promote and control development along major corridors. “The meeting will use the State Road 37 corridor as an example of best practices to use to develop any corridor or area that is poised for growth. Even if I-69 doesn’t follow State Road 37 through the county, we will see a dramatic increase in traffic. How we plan for and handle that growth impacts not just Bargersville and Center Grove but our entire county,” Veldkamp said.
Incentive to Attend the Conversations
Planning for and handling growth is one of the areas covered at the upcoming meeting. Liz Irwin, executive director of Hoosier Voices for I-69, points out, this particular project along State Road 37 will have ramifications in Johnson County, and throughout the country. Citizens here should be aware of potential effects so the community can appropriately plan for it.
“Looking at the big picture, I-69 is a federally designated corridor of the future, with national implications for international trade,” said Irwin. “Although it is not yet complete in Indiana or in all of the other states along the route, there has been continued progress with each of the states between Mexico and Canada. Currently, the six ports of entry in Texas that connect to I-69 account for 50 percent of all U.S. southern border truck crossings. Port Huron and Detroit at the northern end of I-69 account for 40 percent of all U.S. northern border crossings. Once the interstate is complete in all states, its significance in terms of international trade will be even greater. Understanding this national perspective is important to keep in mind when having community conversations, just to give us context on what this interstate means in broad terms. Locally, communities [Johnson County] want to examine the benefits, impacts and a variety of other considerations.”
Aspire’s goal is for the community to be involved beyond their interest in the State Road 37 area. “When you look at good examples of land use planning and development, they involve the opportunity for residents to listen and learn about all options,” said Center Grove area resident Eric Vermilion, co-captain of Aspire’s Infrastructure and Corridor Team.
Dana Monson, director of business development for Johnson County Development Corporation, went on to further the point. “Controlled growth and planning is important; it is necessary for everyone to know the facts. There are all sorts of rumors out there about what’s being done, but this meeting is a great opportunity to hear the facts and find out exactly what is happening,” she said.
“The goal of Aspire is to improve the quality of life for county residents now and in the future. As residents, we need to be involved in the process. This ‘Community Conversation’ is a great way for residents to learn how to be involved in impacting our community,” Vermilion added.
As Aspire considered the work to be done in Johnson County, they knew that community involvement was essential; however, Aspire was also aware that there would be a challenge in making the public aware of the information.
Aspire applied to the Indiana Humanities “Community Conversations Program” to receive assistance with the task of area involvement. “The Community Conversations program is now in its sixth year and we’ve had a variety of communities apply – big, small, urban, rural, suburban. Each applicant has its own challenges and we’re always eager to meet with the leadership and plan a true community dialogue about those challenges and possible solutions,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of the Indiana Humanities. “Typically, a community chooses to have one conversation – this particular program in Johnson County is different alone just in scope. The Johnson County Community Conversation team is quite ambitious and planned four sessions to be sure to include as many members of the community as possible in the dialogue.”
Amstutz went on to explain why Aspire was chosen from among many other applicants. “What made Johnson County stand out was its impressive start and broad based community involvement – the Aspire Johnson County initiative was well thought out and well on its way to making a difference in your community. The structure for the conversations was already there, they just needed a little extra support.”
The April 23 meeting is the first of four Conversations. Subsequent meetings will include discussion on the following:
• Talent Retention and Talent Attraction: “Cradle to Career” May 7, 2015, Greenwood High School
• Quality of Life: Round table discussions on several quality of life topics. June 4, 2015, Indiana Armory, Franklin
• “Our Story”: Johnson County’s image. June 23, 2015, Johnson County Museum, Franklin
Details on these meeting will be posted on the Aspire Johnson County website as they become available.
April 23 Meeting Agenda
Aspire Johnson County requests that you pre-register for the event. Registration is not required however having an estimate of the number of people attending will assure they have enough information handouts for everyone. Register for Community Conversation: State Road 37: Maximizing Benefits, Minimizing Impact here.
The meeting is open to all Johnson County residents. There will be three presentations, each addressing a different aspect of managing growth. Attendees will be able to submit questions via their smartphone, tablet or in writing during the meeting. Aspire Johnson County will answer all questions on their website.
Following the meeting residents will have an opportunity to view current land use planning maps for the area and interact with local elected officials who have attended the meeting.
Agenda – 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Welcome: Dana Monson, Johnson County Development Commission
Moderator: Chris Hamm, HWC Engineering
Preparing for Corridor Growth
Sarah Rubin – INDOT Project Manager, I-69 Section 6
- The importance of resident and public official involvement
- Communities can influence & maximize benefit from corridor changes & growth
- I-69: Impact on State Road SR37
Larry DeBoer – Purdue University professor focusing on state and local government public policy, and the fiscal impact of economic development.
- How a community funds development
Greg Goodnight – Kokomo Mayor, 2008 to present
- How Kokomo is managing growth and getting the public involved
- How to leverage resources available for development
- Infrastructure requirements for an area to grow properly
Final Thoughts: Chris Hamm
What’s Next: Jody Veldkamp, Co-captain Aspire Infrastructure & Corridor Team
After the Meeting: 8 to 8:30 p.m.
Please spend some time visiting the displays set up in the hall. Information includes large maps of the area, examples of corridor development in other areas of Johnson County. Elected officials and planning officials are encouraged to stay and discuss options, ideas and issues with residents.
When: April 23, 2015 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Southland Community Church
5800 West Smith Valley Road
Greenwood, IN 46142