By Jessica R. Key Indianapolis Recorder
The Northeastside of Indianapolis is an area that has its assets and disadvantages like any other neighborhood in the city, yet residents and community stakeholders aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They would like to see the area reach its full potential.
In order to harness that desire and turn it into action, the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life plan will be created.
“The area has a lot of potential as far as the parks, the Monon, businesses and some solid residential areas. It also has some real challenges,” said Bill Taft, executive director of the Indianapolis Local Initiatives Support Corp.
While there have been some improvements, the area has seen an increase in vacant houses and industrial sites. Crime rates are less than favorable, which adds to the declining reputation of the area.
Taft attributes some of the challenges to an interstate that would have run through the area that never materialized. Businesses also stopped investing in the area and families moved to other parts of town. Of those that live in the area, many consist of single, Black female-led households. The Monon trail is not being used to its fullest capabilities like other parts of the city. There also has not been a unified, clear vision of area improvement. That’s where the plan comes into place.
The Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan offers communities an opportunity to create a shared vision of a better neighborhood.
“We want to empower people to create change. What the plan does is give us direction to what we should be focused on,” said Amandula Anderson, executive director of United North East Community Development Corp.
Thus far, community based groups such as the Edna Martin Christian Center, Habitat for Humanity, The Excel Center, the Forest Manor Multiservice Center and neighborhood representatives from areas such as Devington, Crosstown, Keystone-Millersville and others have come together to first agree to the idea of a plan.
They are currently doing outreach to gather as many organizations, businesses, churches and residents as possible to introduce the plan, get people thinking about what they want to see from the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan and most importantly attend the Vision Summit on June 22 at the Farm Bureau Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
The summit is attendees’ opportunity to give their input to changes they’d like to see.
Janine Betsey, executive director for the King Park Area Development Corp. said at the summit, general data on the neighborhood will be shared including vacant houses, crime statistics and education statuses.
People will also be able to sign up for one of eight action teams, which are: health and wellness, education, housing, commercial services, public safety, livability and connectivity.
“The worst thing for someone to say is ‘we’re telling you all our problems and you’re going to tell us how to fix them.’ That’s not what we want to do. There will not be a consultant coming in. We want the neighbors to say ‘these are our problems, now what resources are out there to fix them,’” said Anderson.
Once the eight teams gather input, another meeting will be convened this fall. The plan will then begin being implemented early next year.
In a recent meeting attended by area stakeholders such as the Indiana State Fair, and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, said, “We need to make sure there’s follow through. So many plans have been put into place and no action. We need to make things happen.”
Prime organizers said the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan will certainly have accountability measures. Anderson said that while they hope average citizens remain invested in the plan, they’d like to get the ball rolling right away with small, manageable developments that can help teams see change immediately. One example of that is a commercial façade grant that was given to Mary’s Seafood on East 38th Street used to upgrade the exterior.
Over 19 organizations within the community have signed a memorandum of understanding vowing to be completely engaged and involved in the plan. Also, goals per year for a five-year period will be built into the plan to make sure progress is being made.
“The groups create what they see as success and that will be our benchmark,” said Anderson.
Taft said this plan doesn’t specify how many of these plans will be funded, but Anderson said there may be opportunities to lobby the City of Indianapolis for infrastructure dollars, federal and state grants and recruit businesses directly to the area and encouraging them to invest.
Ultimately, this Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan sets a vision and assigns responsibility to start moving that vision forward. While organizations and established businesses are at the forefront of moving the plan along, they’d like the real stakeholders – residents – to get involved and make their voices heard June 22.
Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Vision Summit
Date: June 22
Place: Farm Bureau Building, Indiana State Fairgrounds
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Info: Call (317) 924-8116 or (317) 924-8116