The following are my rough notes from the Virtual Town Hall that Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness did on April 15th. This was a one hour event where residents could send in questions in advance and ask questions via chat during a live Zoom. The Mayor included Monica Heltz of the Fishers Health Department in the meeting as well.
Note that these are rough notes written while also listening. The Zoom meeting indicated it was being recorded, so the video will hopefully be posted with other city videos online.
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Vaccinations and Covid
- Fishers vaccination site at 116th and Brooks School Road is somewhere around 3rd or 4th largest in the city. They started with about 40 vaccinations a day and could be around 1200 on Saturday. They think they could do up to 1500 in a full day if needed.
- Discussed J&J vaccine. If you’ve had it, Monica Heltz said it isn’t something to worry about.
- Scott mentioned they are targeting 85% of residents to be vaccinated. According to Scott, Fishers is currently outpacing the state. They plan to continue to encourage people to get the shots.
- It was asked if the health department is an extra layer of government? Scott stated that under Indiana law, a city can have taxes for a health department paid to the county or the city. County level tax rate was 1.3 cents (“per hundred”) for health. Fishers is 1 cent, so the rate residents are paying is currently lower than if we were using the county. The city gets the ability to collect the fees for inspections and other services as well. The Mayor stated that the City’s fees are lower than the county’s on most services. The City has also done more than 40,000 free Covid tests to the residents (Monica indicated this is likely 20,000 higher than that). (Free being you aren’t paying out of your pocket). He stated that having the health department also helps build better awareness of health in the community. Integration health in the City was a topic that had come up before Covid.
- They are working with schools regarding the possibility of providing vaccinations with the schools. Kids getting vaccinations would require parental consent. This is stuff in the works.
There is a significant amount of investments going into Fishers Parks.
- Geist Waterfront Park – Board of Works approved a contract to break ground on Geist Waterfront Park. There will be an update at the next City Council meeting on Monday. Phase one is a 2 year project. There will be a beach. This is a passive park with a beach. There will not concerts, baseball, and those types of activities. More on this on Monday night. Sounded like he mentioned this as being a ‘mini-park’. Ground breaking for Geist Waterfront Park was supposed to be April 16th, but has been postponed.
- Fishers AgriPark – You can buy a membership that lets you get produce every week. There will be a summer camp at the park this summer.
- Community Center – There has been a conversation about building a community center in the City of Fishers. Scott feels the community is at a point where building a place to bring residents together would be a good thing. Todd Zimmerman is leading a committee on this with a number of residents. 3,000 residents filled out a survey. He stated that it seems to be a popular idea. The committee is working to prioritize the ideas that were suggested in the survey. Timing wise, a vision statement based on resident feedback will likely be presented by the end of May. If they can get consensus of ideas, then they can start working on an idea. They could possibly be start build a facility by next spring.
- Dog Park in Fishers – The question was asked if there would bea dog park in Fishers? Scott thinks we are long overdue. He’d like to know the number of dogs living in Fishers.
- Nickel Plate Trail – First phase was built last year. Tunnel is the next big piece. A safer crossing is needed. They didn’t want to build a tunnel that a person walking under in the evening would feel uncomfortable if they were alone, so they put funds into making sure it was done right. They are going to close 116th Street shortly after school is out. It will be closed for about 60 days. They hope to have the entire tunnel section done by end of year. He indicated it is now about $8 million to do the tunnel (This is up from the $3 to $5 million that had been stated last year). He would like the entire asphalt done from 146th to 96th by end of next year (2022), however, they need to figure out how to finance the remaining asphalt.
- Parks department headquarters is moving to Hub & Spoke.
- Community Pool – It was asked if there are plans for an outdoor aquatics center or community pool? The Mayor indicated that this was high in the feedback for the community center survey information. There is a chance this could occur.
- Ritchey Woods – There were comments regarding the area around Ritchey Woods. The land to the West of Ritchey Woods was bought from airport. This 15 to 17th acres would likely be a part of Ritchey Woods.
New Businesses in Fishers
There were several questions about business related to Fishers. This included addressing a couple of rumors that are often seen on social media regarding Fishers:
- Chick-Fil-A is not planning to build anything at 116th and Allisonville. The City is talking with Chick-Fil-A, but nothing is happening at this time.
- Waterfront Hotel at 37 and 131st. This rumor came up again this past week. Nothing is known to be in the works. Sounds like it would be surprising for anything like that to happen.
- Marsh Buildings – It was asked if there was a plan for the Marsh Building at 116th and Brook School? The Mayor commented that it is being used right now for the vaccination center. They will be selective in what goes there. They did put in an ordinance that only a grocery store can go in the building. They are open to ideas, but if it isn’t a grocery store, they would need to run it by the City Council to make sure it is complimentary to the neighborhood.
- Trader Joes – The question of getting a Trader Joes in Fishers came up. The Mayor stated that if they come knocking, they will do what they can for this type of business to get them into Fishers.
- Old Kroger location at Allisonville and 116th – Kite and Kroger had a deal where Kite couldn’t put in a grocery store in the old lot. That 2 year non-compete is over, so they are hoping something can happen in that area.
- 96th Street and Airport.
There was an Indy Star article on a potential distribution center at the Airport site. There are several areas there where there could be additional development there this year. Nothing is coming – yet – on the Hague Road side because they’ve not seen anything that fits that area.
State Road 37 and Roads
There were a number of questions on State Road 37 Construction as well as some other road areas within the City.
- State Road 37
- It was asked why Fishers residents pay for 146th Street interchange when it is primarily Noblesville?
When Pence worked with the City and County to get the money for the road project, they felt that 126th to 146th was the challenging areas for traffic. They believed those were the intersections that needed to be addressed to help with traffic flow for Fishers even if one of the intersections is on the South side of Noblesville. Fixing that intersection will help Fishers traffic.
- The Mayor apologized for the bad traffic at 146th right now. They are working to get through the construction as quickly as possible. They hope to get through 131st and 135th this year. They are working to get it done “as soon as humanly possible”.
- It was asked why Fishers residents pay for 146th Street interchange when it is primarily Noblesville?
- 116th and Allisonville
- A question included, asking what will happen with 116th and Allisonville? The city did purchase the southeast corner. They have a road improvement plan for around 2024, so the purchase of that land helps give them some room to do what might be needed.
- 116th and Cumberland –
- It was asked if there was a way to make this intersection area look better? The Mayor commented that the Public Works Department makes sure intersections are manicured and mowed to show we have high standards. He wishes something could be done at the 116th and Cumberland, but it is a tough one because of utilities and other things that are there.
The Mayor stated that the City has very limited jurisdiction as a result in what they can do regarding the 5G towers. A pretty sweeping bill got passed at higher government levels. A new bill is coming that could further restrict the city’s ability to fight against tower locations such as in front of someone’s house. The city will try to fight for moving towers 50 feet this way, and will continue to try to help homeowners, but the City is very limited because of the higher level government restrictions. In addition to the towers, fiber is coming into neighborhoods, which will be used for towers.
The Mayor also commented that there doesn’t seem like there is any rhyme or reason as to when and where towers are going up. The City is doing what they can, but they are limited by federal preemptions in the law.
There is no law that says affordable housing has to be incorporated into housing developments. There is nothing in zoning documents. Affordable Housing is an ongoing discussion by the City Council and getting attention. It is also a contentious topic.
The Mayor was asked what the chances were for having a road race through the streets. I assume this was tongue in cheek, but you never know. The Mayor commented that he didn’t know what type of race was being asked about. They do want to get people out in to the community. They want to see 5Ks and Spark! Fishers back.
Other Topics –
- Library Parking Lot –
Is there still plans to move the parking lot behind the library?
This is a county board topic. He believes that is still planned. Doesn’t know if it would be this year or next year, but expects to see improvements on this.
- “Favorite Part of my Day” Contract
They’ve hired a consultant to work in this area (diversity, race, and such). The Mayor stated “this is a hot button topic for many people. At times it seems like we are in a cultural war.” They want to create an environment to where everyone can reach their potential. They will have a plan and a rollout in the near future.
- The Mayor’s comments on the next 60 to 90 days….
- Big development news coming regarding jobs is hopefully coming
- The end of 2020 was really busy. They should be great news in 2021 for jobs and business coming to the City.
- Lots of pavement/road work coming.
- Lot coming on community center and talks on this
- Events, Tuesday Summer Concerts, Spark! Fishers, lots of things coming back. Expect to see the City come back to life.
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Again, these are my notes from the live meeting. Check with the city to confirm any details. We did provide a few additional questions of our own prior to the meeting that were confirmed as received, but were not answered. These were more specific to costs, such as how much has currently been spent on the Nickel Plate Trail and what is the current projected cost to complete the asphalt from 146th to 96th. Those questions were not answered.
Update: Following is the posted video of the Town Hall: