Mayor Mark Myers Details Recent Achievements While Looking Ahead In State of the City Address
Edited version of Mayor Myers’ 2019 State of the City Address, shortened for Greenwood Magazine. Visit greenwood.in.gov for a copy of the full address.
PRIDE and PROGRESS, the standard on which Greenwood was built, has never been more relevant.
After several years of conservative fiscal diligence, Greenwood now owns one of Indiana’s strongest balance sheets.
The current administration came into office in large part because of a commitment to preserve and revitalize Old Town Greenwood. Doing so requires dynamic civic assets, attractive gathering spaces and diverse opportunities for public recreation.
Old Town must be walkable, connected, accessible and pedestrian-friendly. In 2018, several projects were completed, designed to achieve those goals.
The first phase of redevelopment for Madison Avenue was finished. This includes a multi-use 12-foot wide trail for both pedestrians and bicyclists, brick crosswalks, a pedestrian signal at Euclid Avenue and a revitalized public parking lot at Broadway and Madison.
Last year, city staff worked with Greenwood’s Redevelopment Commission to finalize a second round of funding for the GROW initiative. The GROW program helps local businesses expand while also providing benefits to the community as a whole, including improving downtown.
Bordering the northern edge of the former Greenwood Middle School, the new Surina Way extension sets the stage for development of both the 19-acre property and a reimagined Old City Park.
The project included a public-private partnership with Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church – which created more than 150 additional downtown parking spaces. Considerable improvements were made to the Greenwood Amphitheater and park space surrounding the outdoor venue, which played host to another record-setting year for the city’s Summer Concert Series and Movies in the Park.
Phase-one of improvements to Emerson Avenue was completed, one of the city’s most traveled north-south corridors. These improvements have already attracted interest and will act as a catalyst for additional private investment.
City-hosted events remain extremely popular. The continued success of Freedom Festival, Just PLANE Fun at Indy South Greenwood Airport and last year’s inaugural Kris Kringle Market prove once again that, if done right, they’ll be well attended.
Taken as a whole, Greenwood’s reputation, growth and momentum have reached record levels.
The four pillars that serve as a foundation for Greenwood are Public Safety, Infrastructure, Quality of Life, and Economic Development. If invested in properly, these pillars work together to build a thriving community.
First and foremost, Greenwood must be safe.
Greenwood is blessed to have men and women in both the police and fire departments who share this conviction and are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect and serve our community.
Greenwood Fire Department will soon receive a Class 2 public protection rating from the Insurance Services Office. Results rate on a national scale from one to ten, with one being the best rating.
Last summer, a new Greenwood Justice Center was opened. A complete remodel of the police building at Surina Square, the Justice Center continues to house GPD headquarters and now serves as a permanent home for the Greenwood City Court, City Clerk’s Office and Greenwood Probation Department.
In 2018, the relocation of Greenwood Fire Station 93 was announced. Fire Station 93 will be located in Freedom Park on land purchased last year. The addition will shorten response times and improve department operations.
Last year, several departments sought to improve efficiency and create future savings through important technology investments, with more planned for 2019.
In 2018, the Street Department launched Greenwood’s first interactive trash map.
In the Stormwater department, staff are now using Cityworks software to maximize resources and minimize per-project expenses.
Efforts to reduce administrative costs are working. Perhaps the best indicator of success is the elimination of all service fees for any customer payments to City-owned utilities.
In 2018, construction on Stop 18 Road just west of U.S. 31, was completed. Horton Street, Commission Road and Stonegate Road were rebuilt and full depth reclamations on portions of Honey Creek Road and Emerson Avenue was completed.
Progress continues on Worthsville Road, the latest section of which includes multi-use paths connecting to our trail system, providing access to the Central Nine Career Center campus and land designated for the new Grassy Creek Park.
Later this year, efforts to improve, modernize and increase safety at school zone crossings are expected to be complete. Appropriate resources are being dedicated to keep kids safe. One initiative is Vision Zero.
Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility.
In 2018, the full modernization of trash services was complete. The improvements follow the modernization of Greenwood’s recycling program, which led to several thousand more participating households and a 50 percent increase in recycling tonnage in 2018.
Greenwood also has plans to build a new Department of Public Works building. Serving as an addition to the current DPW building on South Washington Street, the new 50,000 square-foot facility will allow many of the infrastructure-focused departments to be even more efficient, while also extending life cycles for city equipment and vehicles.
Greenwood is paying for construction of the DPW building with cash on hand and will not have to issue a single dollar of debt for the project.
Quality of Life
The quality of life offered to Greenwood citizens is a top priority. Greenwood citizens have experienced family bonding over Lego tables at Kid City, offering active seniors a diverse and expanding trail system, free concerts on Saturdays in the summer with a couple thousand of your closest friends.
Freedom Springs continues to exceed expectations and welcomed more than 108,000 visitors last year, the third consecutive year of record attendance. And, just as impressive, membership increased more than 65 percent, surpassing 2,200 in 2018.
The combined result led to another record year for revenue at the pool, and, for the first time, Freedom Springs eclipsed $1 million in annual revenue.
While the old city pool lost more than $80,000 annually, Freedom Springs has operated in the black since day one. And in three years, the facility has generated a combined surplus of more than $750,000. That’s three-quarters of a million dollars back into the Parks system.
The reimagined Greenwood Community Center followed suit with a record year of its own, hosting more than 122,000 visitors in 2018, up more than 20,000 from 2017.
In the ongoing quest to add more greenspace, last year the Parks Department acquired more than 30 acres of land next to Worthsville Road.
This year, construction begins on a new downtown fieldhouse, a repurpose of the former gymnasium at Greenwood Middle School, that will serve as the public anchor for the 19-acre property’s redevelopment. Interior plans for the facility are still being determined, details will be announced soon.
In 2018, planning also began for a new event lawn at Craig Park to be completed this summer. New trails will be added including on the north side of Freedom Park, extending from Averitt Road to Freedom Springs, and a multi-use trail connecting Northwest Park and Northwest Park Annex.
Later this year, the Parks Department will open its first rental hall. Purchased in 2018, the department is converting the former Hampton House on Fry Road and will offer the space for a variety of events.
Economic development is highly competitive. As observed with Amazon’s HQ2 process, an available and skilled workforce is often the decision driver for businesses planning to expand or relocate.
To compete in this new economic development era, Greenwood must offer current and future generations an attractive and opportunity-filled community.
This strategy is generating meaningful returns. Last year, Greenwood welcomed one of the world’s most valuable companies as its newest corporate citizen as Amazon announced a new $80 million operations hub. The investment is expected to bring with it more than 1,200 new jobs.
And while Amazon announced its investment last year, another Fortune 500 company celebrated 2018 by opening its new Greenwood fulfillment center. Pitney Bowes has its 450,000 square-foot fulfillment center up and running with plans to hire up to 300 people.
Other noteworthy projects include Franciscan Health’s new, state-of-the-art health care facility and a $20 million apartment complex planned by The Garrett Companies, Greenwood’s latest hometown success story which ranked 10th on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies.
Quality of life and economic development are more interconnected than ever, and upcoming projects will continue Greenwood’s momentum in both areas.
Design continues for the remaining phases of Madison Avenue’s transformation, which will eventually extend north to Fry Road.
In 2019, the streetscape work at Madison and Main Street will begin. The project includes widened sidewalks, which residents have long sought to improve Old Town’s walkability and pedestrian safety. Installation of new wayfinding and street signs will continue throughout this year.
Old City Park, one of Greenwood’s most historic public spaces, will soon undergo a dramatic transformation. The visual and recreational centerpiece is a 20-foot cube tower custom designed by an internationally renowned playground manufacturer.
The play tower will be the first of its kind in Indiana, and one of only three in the country. A custom climbing wall and custom climbing net for younger children will also be included.
The reimagined Old City Park will have pipe slides, spinners, ping pong tables and extensive open space for non-structured developmental play and a few urban porch swings will be available for mom and dad to relax while the kids have fun. The new park will offer amenities for all ages.
An 18-foot wide promenade will run adjacent to Pleasant Creek, seamlessly integrating into the creek’s natural landscape. The shelter space will be restored, bocce ball courts and a fitness circuit will be added, as will a new pedestrian bridge.
Old City Park will once again become a central cornerstone of Old Town, with connectivity to the Greenwood Amphitheater and Craig Park, the former middle school property, Greenwood Public Library, the new Madison Avenue trail and more.
Like many of the projects, the reimagined park will impact Greenwood citizens for decades to come. It will serve as an example for future generations.
Take pride in Greenwood’s past, honor previous generations and celebrate the continued progress toward an even brighter future.