Officials to gather ideas from public Wednesday on plan to improve White River

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. -- An idea to revamp the White River could turn it into one of the largest accessible waterways in the nation.

Leaders in Hamilton and Marion Counties are gathering input from members of the public on what they want to see in their neighborhoods.

"We’re beginning to see ourselves as a city that is way more than the past. It is the opportunity to engage the river," said Matt Carter, VP of Destination Development for Visit Indy.

The 58 miles of water stretch from Indianapolis to Noblesville. The White River could have once been considered forgotten about, but now it's getting major attention that could turn into a facelift.

"The historical significance of the river and our ability to turn our backs on that as an industrial corridor-- we now have an unprecedented opportunity as a new frontier for us to create an asset the public will enjoy," Carter said.

Representatives from Hamilton and Marion Counties are meeting with the public to talk about what they want to see in their neighborhoods.

"Everything's been floated from greenways connectivity, how could you walk the White River from one end of the river to the other or bike it, from zip lines to other public access modes," said Brenda Myers, President and CEO of Hamilton County Tourism. "How can we provide opportunities for people to live on the river? How can we protect the river and make sure it stays ecologically sound?"

The project, being called the "My White River Vision Plan," is in the discovery phase. Leaders are taking input from the public and doing studies before a formal plan is submitted.

"I think that’s a key part of the study is making sure we’re sensitive to the neighbors that have chosen to live near and on the white river, but also making sure when we do provide opportunities that we don’t gentrify, or change an area so much that it loses it’s personality," Myers explained.

As far as how much it will all cost or who will foot the bill, leaders said it's too early to tell.

"I think there are already mechanisms in place that would enable a development of any kind to be able to exist. You’re going to certainly have the social sector, the philanthropic, the public sector and the private sector funding," Carter said.

The public meeting schedule is:

  • Wednesday, July 11 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Noblesville City Hall
  • Thursday, July 12 from 12 - 2 p.m. at Marion University Paul J. Norman Center
  • Thursday, July 12 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Riverside Park Family Center auditorium

For more on the project and how you can provide your input, click here.

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