Town Hall meetings were held throughout the county to gain insight into the planning issues important to the citizens of Marion County. The meetings were held on September 27 at the Wayne Township MSD Education Center, on October 3 at IPS School #48, on October 5 at Howe Middle School and on October 11 at Southport High School.
Those attending the meetings included neighborhood association members, City-County Councilors, Board of Zoning Appeals members, school district representatives, township officials, representatives of environmental organizations and individual citizens.
The attendees filled out questionnaires regarding ideals and objectives and participated in small group discussions about planning issues and quality of life. Results of the Town Hall meetings will be used to set the topics that the Issue Committees will study and will also be used to develop the value statements that will guide the development of the comprehensive plan update.
In the questionnaire, participants were asked about the qualities of their ideal city and their ideal neighborhood. They were also asked to consider the objectives proposed by the Growth Advisory Committee Report.
The first question was "If you were designing your ideal city, what would you definitely include?" Participants could make up to ten responses. The top three responses were good schools, convenient mass transit and a variety of parks and greenways. Trailing these items was a grouping of answers concerning the environment, culture, infrastructure and the economy.
When asked about the aspects of their ideal neighborhood, the most frequent response was "sidewalks within the neighborhood." Other top responses were proximity to parks, schools and convenience shopping and the presence of mature trees. While responses remained constant despite the meetings' geographic locations, participants did have some specific areas of concern. For example, participants at the south meeting were particularly interested in low noise levels and participants at the east meeting frequently mentioned street lighting.
The questionnaire concluded with objectives concerning city growth. Participants were asked to evaluate recommendation developed in late 1999 by the Growth Advisory Committee. The respondents strongly agreed with these statements which talked about balanced land use and the quality planning, construction and maintenance of communities. See box for more detailed results of the questionnaire.
The bulk of the town hall meetings involved small group discussions. Participants worked in groups of five to ten to collectively answer questions about planning issues and quality of life. After the discussions, each group presented their work and their comments were recorded. After the group work was complete, each person individually ranked the importance of the statements.
The answers to the questions were similar from meeting to meeting although each meeting had some unique statements.
The four questions each group was given to consider were:
The answers to the first two questions commonly included concerns about redevelopment, public transportation, parks and greenspace, adequate infrastructure, a clean environment, and public participation in planning and zoning.
The third question elicited common responses concerning transportation options, a clean environment, neighborhood shopping, senior housing, a good sidewalk system, and keeping senior citizens integrated into the community.
The qualities of Indianapolis life that participants most wanted to hang on to were the friendliness of the citizens; parks, greenways and greenspaces; a vital downtown; ethnic and cultural diversity: and strong and recognizable neighborhoods.
The comprehensive planning staff thanks both the meeting participants and the venues for making the Town Hall meetings possible.