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Old September 11th, 2019, 07:34 PM   #1241
indyurban
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It doesn't have to be like a dense city with towers and apartments. Some suburban areas are on a grid and with sidewalks, can be made more urban or "streetcar suburban." There was a densification graphic where houses become duplexes or larger lots can be subdivided further. I actually like single family homes but they should be walkable to commercial areas and other public places like Indiana's historic towns, which were built on a grid.
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Old September 12th, 2019, 04:03 PM   #1242
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By the way, I suspect one reason Brainard is so negative on Indy's ask for infrastructure is the condition of the IWC water lines when Carmel purchased them. I don't have hard verifications of this, but I was told it was pretty appalling. Things had been maintained as absolutely cheaply as possible. One illustration somebody told me was along the lines of, "If they could have spend a dollar on a part that would last 25 years or 85 cents on a part that would last five, they'd save the 15 cents every time." The IWC purchase gave Carmel a first hand view of how Indianapolis performed maintenance on capital assets.

I think one of the good thing about the Citizens purchase is that it will likely lead to better maintenance. I think as a rule gas companies are a lot more serious about this than water companies, for obvious reasons, and Citizens DNA is natural gas.
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Old September 12th, 2019, 10:52 PM   #1243
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By the way, I suspect one reason Brainard is so negative on Indy's ask for infrastructure is the condition of the IWC water lines when Carmel purchased them. I don't have hard verifications of this, but I was told it was pretty appalling. Things had been maintained as absolutely cheaply as possible. One illustration somebody told me was along the lines of, "If they could have spend a dollar on a part that would last 25 years or 85 cents on a part that would last five, they'd save the 15 cents every time." The IWC purchase gave Carmel a first hand view of how Indianapolis performed maintenance on capital assets.

I think one of the good thing about the Citizens purchase is that it will likely lead to better maintenance. I think as a rule gas companies are a lot more serious about this than water companies, for obvious reasons, and Citizens DNA is natural gas.
And generally, municipally-owned water utilities are loath to raise rates to where they need to be to cover long-term "capital maintenance" expense. I remember reading a guest post to this effect almost a decade ago on The Urbanophile. (Long before Flint.)

Lawrence went through a 10 year period without raising rates, band-aid maintenance ate up their revenue, and their bond rating fell to the junk range. Only after a proper rate increase and significant capital reinvestment has the bond rating moved back into investment grade. But it required the mayor to put his political capital on the line.

[Side note: New mains aren't really "maintenance", they are replacement of fully depreciated capital items that are costing a lot in maintenance and repairs. Same way that a new airplane to replace an aging and expensive one is a capital expense.]

Last edited by cdc guy; September 12th, 2019 at 10:58 PM. Reason: typos
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Old September 13th, 2019, 12:43 PM   #1244
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He's not wrong about the sprawl, and he is right that Indy needs to promote density (and not just in the regional center). Maybe not everywhere, but certainly in particular nodes and along transit corridors. Marion County's existing road grid is unsustainable. I don't know if there is a good solution to first ring suburbia. As you have noted over the years, the no-curb, no-sidewalk development that characterizes much of what was built in Marion County from the 1940s through the 1970s just isn't as attractive as more traditionally urban parts of the city.

I generally admire Brainard. Carmel has been an affluent suburb for decades, but he really has changed things for the better and has created something that will sustain and provides an excellent quality of the life for the slim minority who can afford to live there. But I think he's high on his own supply if he thinks governing Indianapolis has much in common with governing Carmel. I also disagree with the unspoken notion that "Indianapolis" and "Carmel" are static entities. Many of the people who live in Carmel or other collar county suburbs either grew up in Marion County or are the children or grandchildren of people who did. Again, Carmel's urban design and zoning under Brainard have been first class, and both cities and other suburbs can learn from this to an extent. But while Carmel may not be promoting sprawl on a micro level, Carmel has been a huge beneficiary of sprawl on a macro level. The broader pattern of divesting in concentric circles has been to Carmel's benefit. And Indy's problems far predate the election of Joe Hogsett or any current CCC member. If Indy could rewind the clock to 1999 and do everything right in terms of zoning and development and street design, I think we still would have huge problems.

What's interesting is that Brainard doesn't necessarily disagree that Indy's streets are a regional problem because of all the governmental and tax exempt regional institutions within our borders. He simply takes the typical collar county perspective that "Democrats" (literally and figuratively) aren't capable of self-governance and we should let our Ruralpublican overlords handle it for us.
Agreed, I think he's done an excellent job from promoting high-quality, development, establishing Carmel as the premier upper-class suburb, building out an extensive recreation system, etc.

Maybe Brainard figured it out, but it seems Carmel's eventually going to face the same issue of long-term maintenance on capital investment. And it's not like they do not have there share of existing (and still being constructed) low-density development that you find throughout Indianapolis and the surrounding suburbs. There's a sizeable portion of people in Carmel that would give Brainard the same criticism he leverages on Indianapolis. How much of Carmel's debt load is an actual issue or simply local politics is debatable, but it would be disingenuous to ignore it.

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(Indianapolis) has allowed so much sprawl that the tax revenue from the sprawling development does not even pay for the roads that serve that sprawl, let alone police and fire and social safety nets he said.

As an example, he pointed to IKEA and Top Golf in Fishers, two highly anticipated Hamilton County developments on 50 acres. According to tax documents, the assessed value of the two Fishers developments is only slightly higher than Carmel┬’s Sophia Square mixed-use development on 2.1 acres. Cities receive property taxes based on the assessed value of the land, meaning Carmel would receive 23 times more property tax dollars per acre than Fishers, assuming property tax rates and caps were the same.

That type of sprawl is what Indianapolis has built throughout its suburban areas, which is about 95 percent of it, Brainard said. ┬“Until they start to do a fiscal analysis with their zoning decisions, they’re not going to have the money to keep up the roads that they need. It doesn’t make sense to bail them out until they fix that structural deficit in their budget because it’s going to be a constant bailout every few years.”
Interesting he cites the IKEA/Top Golf development in Fishers, and again, seems like this will be applicable to every non-Carmel suburb of Indianapolis in 20-30 years.

Last edited by Wu-Gambino; September 13th, 2019 at 02:34 PM. Reason: Formatting
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Old September 13th, 2019, 03:08 PM   #1245
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Interesting he cites the IKEA/Top Golf development in Fishers, and again, seems like this will be applicable to every non-Carmel suburb of Indianapolis in 20-30 years.
Fishers already went through this once with Incredible Universe (?). Fishers has done the opposite of the Carmel strategy. They wanted to do things cheaply, essentially just mandating higher end finishes on traditional sprawl. Easy to see how this goes south.

Golf is in the midst of a major decline in popularity. Right around the time the Indy store opened, Ikea announced a halt to US expansion and cancelled every planned future store - including one in Nashville. Don't think it's not possible they won't axe the Indy store at some point.

Fishers has done some things right. Their major arterial streets are decent. They have started trying to build up their downtown. They want to build a really high quality park down near Geist. But they've radically underinvested in quality placemaking and amenities, instead explicitly trying to become a high tech hub (which is again going against market, which is increasingly about the urban center).

It may be too late for Fishers to do anything. Some of the tools Carmel used are no longer available. Fadness seems basically good, but I'd move away from the tech startup hub vision and start investing heavily in infrastructure and amenities (esp. parks), plus looking to promote more urban nodes.
Westfield also is going to have a new council that I think has some anti-everything aspects to it. I hear things might basically be dead there for a cycle.

Some of the places doing interesting stuff are ones not really on the usual radar. Franklin obviously talked about here but Lebanon has a new young mayor and is essentially trying to replicate some of what Franklin has done. Big infra going in there. Plainfield's downtown is much, much better than it was 10 or 15 years ago.
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Old September 13th, 2019, 04:48 PM   #1246
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I don't really know if we can say that Carmel is doing things better than Fishers as far as promoting dense and sustainable development. Fishers built a pretty vibrant downtown and it seems as if IKEA and Top Golf have been attracting high-density development to the area. Fishers 25% more dense than Carmel and it's one of the most dense cities in the Indpls metro area.

I agree that Carmel has Fishers beat in the park department, but Fishers is catching up 1/3rd the municipal debt of Carmel (as of 2017). Fishers has been growing at a faster rate than Carmel for years, Fishers will likely pass Carmel in population in 2020.
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Old September 13th, 2019, 05:19 PM   #1247
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If you look at townships instead of incorporated areas, Fishers and Carmel have about the same density. (Fishers hasn't yet annexed most undeveloped land in its townships). Fishers will be built out more densely most likely, but because it has lower end homes on smaller lot sizes. But without a doubt Carmel is predominately a sprawly city.
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Old September 13th, 2019, 07:41 PM   #1248
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I think you're being unfair to Fishers. Their design standards are nice and leafy suburban looking (the Allisonville Road upgrade is an example) but that's the prevailing aesthetic in Hamilton County. Fishers' development strategy is a lot like Carmel's with a planned trail through downtown, roundabouts, and planned diverging diamond highways. They're just doing it slower probably to reduce debt loads.

What Fishers does have is the amazing Conner Prairie. Ikea and Top Golf are also top draws for the metro area. I wish, though, that they wouldn't turn the Nickel Plate into a trail. The Nickel Plate could be turned into a nice mass transit line linking downtown Fishers to Indy. It could be like DC's suburbs growing around mass transit stops and there's also the history of the Fair Train that Fishers is throwing away.

Both Mayor Hogsett and mayoral challenger Merritt expressed support for overturning the rail ban in a recent debate but BRT would work too. I'm hoping Indy does things different for the Nickel Plate to rework suburban Indy areas like Castleton.
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Old September 16th, 2019, 12:29 PM   #1249
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Relevant, but I don’t recall seeing this news anywhere in Indianapolis-based media:

Quote:
Road fund mistake to cost city

NIKI KELLY - Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Millions in road money will shift from cities and towns around the state to Marion County after state officials recently found an error in the distribution formula.

State Auditor Tera Klutz sent a memo to local units Monday saying cities and towns could see an 8% drop is road funding starting in January. It is unknown what the total shift is statewide in dollars.
SOURCE: https://www.journalgazette.net/news/...e-to-cost-city
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Old September 16th, 2019, 03:56 PM   #1250
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The implications of that article are huge. It suggests Indy has been getting massively shortchanged on road funds for decades because the state distribution to Indy was based solely on the IFD coverage area. (Presumably there were full county distributions but not "city" ones). If true, this is a bombshell.

This suggests that the #1 priority in getting more street funding for Indy is demanding a true up of past distributions that were incorrectly small, then #2a) to finish fire consolidation stat, legislatively if need be, or 2b) get the funding formula changed legislatively.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 01:35 AM   #1251
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The article said Fort Wayne will give up 800-900K in road funding and will be sent to Indy instead. It also said this mistake would affect every city and town in the state. How much could Indy get based on this mistake and would the state reimburse the city since they only caught it now? It looks like it mentioned the formula needed to be reformulated back when the fire departments merged in the mid 2000s?

Nice timing, though, as the city's bicentennial is coming up. It'd make a nice birthday present. I'm hoping the city does a good job with possible street upgrades due to this new funding. The Central Ave. and Red Line street upgrades would suggest they know how important Complete Streets are.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 02:48 AM   #1252
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Am i the only one worried about the other cities giving up funding? Muncie, Anderson, Richmond, Terre Haute, Gary, and Hammond aren't doing so hot. What happens when their funding is cut?
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Old September 17th, 2019, 03:02 AM   #1253
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(Presumably there were full county distributions but not "city" ones).
This is what was confusing me. So, they were using counties as the basis for every area outside of Indianapolis, but they were using the (unmerged) city fire district - instead of Marion County - for distribution for Indianapolis? This is all such a weird way to distrubute road funds. You'd think they'd have distributed it to Indy by using Marion County as the proxy just like they seem(?) to have done with every other county, right?

Anyway, wiki's page for the fire department shows that only Decatur, Pike, and Wayne's fire districts remain outside the IFD.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 03:35 PM   #1254
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So they are saying that didn't account for ANY of the township fire mergers with IFD? This could be huge. The population of the 5 townships that have merged with IFD since 2007 is over 500,000 according to the 2010 census.

So does this mean that Indy is going to get additional road funding that is equivalent of a city of 500,000 people? Are we going to get back payment?

Also, why doesn't Marion county get road funding credit for the un-merged areas? How do they get funding? Why isn't the local news all over this?

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Old September 17th, 2019, 03:48 PM   #1255
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The funding information is here: https://www.in.gov/auditor/files/FY1...tributions.pdf

14.52% of the fund goes to Cities and Towns by population
30.98% of the fund goes to Counties by road mileage, vehicle registrations, and a fixed sum per county.

Presumably Indy was getting the full distribution for Marion County. But because it's a city-county combined government, it should get "city" funds as well. This is what was based on the population of the IFD service territory.

I'm not sure when this was established, but it probably made some sense at the dawn of Unigov. Today, when Indy is practically entirely urbanized, no longer.

This will no doubt rapidly escalate to a statewide issue, generating tremendous negativity towards Indy as it reinforces a zero-sum mindset. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some legislative response to it. However, the money will be most welcome.

I would certainly demand a true up for all of those years in the past.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 03:50 PM   #1256
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So they are saying that didn't account for ANY of the township fire mergers with IFD? This could be huge. The population of the 5 townships that have merged with IFD since 2007 is over 500,000 according to the 2010 census.

So does this mean that Indy is going to get additional road funding that is equivalent of a city of 500,000 people? Are we going to get back payment?
IFD already covered part of the township areas, especially in Washington Township. So it's not going to be quite 500K, but certainly a lot.

The population collapse in the old city area since 1970 would have meant declining street revenues from the state for many years.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 05:59 PM   #1257
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The funding information is here: https://www.in.gov/auditor/files/FY1...tributions.pdf

14.52% of the fund goes to Cities and Towns by population
30.98% of the fund goes to Counties by road mileage, vehicle registrations, and a fixed sum per county.

Presumably Indy was getting the full distribution for Marion County. But because it's a city-county combined government, it should get "city" funds as well. This is what was based on the population of the IFD service territory.

I'm not sure when this was established, but it probably made some sense at the dawn of Unigov. Today, when Indy is practically entirely urbanized, no longer.

This will no doubt rapidly escalate to a statewide issue, generating tremendous negativity towards Indy as it reinforces a zero-sum mindset. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some legislative response to it. However, the money will be most welcome.

I would certainly demand a true up for all of those years in the past.
I predict a Suburblican-Ruralpublican alliance that changes the formula to yield just about what every city, town, and county got last year with the error.

Although it's entirely possible that the fast-growing donut counties (one of which is partially represented by the Republican candidate for Indy mayor) might get on board with a reallocation since they're unlikely to lose.

But it does set up an Indy vs. Rest of the State dynamic that Indy never wins.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 07:21 PM   #1258
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Quote:
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14.52% of the fund goes to Cities and Towns by population
30.98% of the fund goes to Counties by road mileage, vehicle registrations, and a fixed sum per county.

Presumably Indy was getting the full distribution for Marion County. But because it's a city-county combined government, it should get "city" funds as well. This is what was based on the population of the IFD service territory.
Thanks for the explanation. Where I live, the formula splits road funds in a similar fashion (counties and then incorporated places among other state agencies/departments), but the funds that go to counties go to county road commissions, which have jurisdiction only on roads outside of incorporated cities and villages. I guess in Indiana, this isn't quite thought of as double-dipping, since townships continue to exist even as incorporated places annex their land.

Anyway, if Indy was getting shortchanged the 14.52% distribution for cities and towns, they need to be made whole. Though like cdc, I bet they just change the law to wipe away the mistake. But I'd at least demand it, if even they don't pay it out all at once.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 10:04 PM   #1259
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I finally rode the Red Line today. The return trip north featured a near miss/panic stop on Capitol south of Methodist. It was sudden and severe enough to knock a couple people out of their seats.

Something will have to be done to draw people's attention to the buses heading north on the one-way-southbound-except-for-buses stretch of Capitol (Washington to 18th). If there's signage on the east-west intersections, it's not enough...I think the buses will need strobes similar to school buses or utility trucks on the front side.

My lasting takeaway: the bus capacity seems less than a regular IndyGo coach. I certainly didn't see 40 seats.
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Old September 17th, 2019, 10:48 PM   #1260
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I would think Capitol will have to become a two way for automobiles along with perhaps its pair, Illinois. They already made Central 2 way so maybe it's funding that's stopping the city from 2 waying the streets. It's a trend among cities and since I read about the car bus crash on the Red Line, I was guessing they'll 2 way it at some point. Maybe the new funding can help pay for new Complete Streets and some new 2 ways.
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