By Thomas P. Healy
In January 2017, a small working group of Broad Ripple community members began reanimating the conversation about a long-desired project to strengthen the connection between Broad Ripple Park and the Monon Trail. The group engaged Meg Storrow and John Kinsella of Storrow Kinsella Associates (SKA) to create some renderings to illustrate how the reallocation of public right-of-way on Broad Ripple Avenue might work for the on-street portion of the trail.
SKA already had experience in the area, having worked on the Broad Ripple Park Plan in 1994 for Indy Parks. They included some of those concepts for a trail along the White River in the Park as well as along Culbertson Ditch on the Park’s north end. They also tweaked the Riverwalk concept they promoted in 2001 in a plan for the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Recalling the Ballard administration’s ill-fated attempt to promote a Boardwalk along the White River banks in 2014, the group also sought out environmental scientist Neal Bennett of Butler Fairman Seufert. The firm has completed a number of successful riverbank stabilization/restoration/revegetation projects around the state, and so they provided illustrative examples of work that might be relevant for this stretch of the White River in Broad Ripple.
The group assembled a presentation that was shared with approximately 60 people over the course of the summer. Attendees included elected and appointed officials, city and state staffers, representatives of environmental groups, park/bike/pedestrian/transit advocates, and river advocates.
The ad hoc group was encouraged to seek formal recognition as a Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) committee, which led to the Dec. 6 establishment of the Broad Ripple Riverwalk Task Force. Local business owners Brad Warnecke and Bruce Buchanan agreed to serve as co-chairs, with BRVA executive director Brooke Klejnot, business owner Don Arbogast, and neighborhood activist Deb Stoll rounding out the steering committee. “After several quarters of informational meetings and an early work up of concept renderings from Storrow Kisella Associates, we are launching a serious effort to bring to fruition a 30-year dream for the Village,” Warnecke said.
READ MORE: 30 years of Riverwalk Dreams [PDF]
The steering committee is planning to meet with ROW leadership as early as possible in 2018 to discuss how an affiliation might come about. Meanwhile, the group will continue community outreach and intends to be engaged in the Broad Ripple Park Master Plan effort scheduled for early 2018.