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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Indiana

Broad Ripple
Town Welcomes Those on Foot
Sycamore Springs
Hoped-For Park Slips Away

Broad Ripple
Town Welcomes Those on Foot

Founded in the 1800s along the White River, Broad Ripple has grown intelligently through much of its history. Though now part of the city of Indianapolis, the community has retained its identity by preserving classic buildings and protecting open space.

Broad Ripple has a great blend of people and places -- residential areas as well as jobs, commerce and arts, scenic parks and beautiful trails. The area is served by public transportation, and a light-rail plan for Indianapolis may extend to Broad Ripple.

Choices for Getting Around: A network of scenic trails and ample bike racks provide prime cycling opportunities in Broad Ripple.

One distinctive aspect of Broad Ripple is how pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly the town is. Streets have wide sidewalks, and several areas in town have bicycle racks. The Monon Trail, a rail corridor turned bike path, and the Central Canal Towpath, a holdover from the 19th century, provide safe and scenic bike paths that link the village with nearby neighborhoods.

Aside from the trails there are two popular parks, Marott and Broad Ripple. Marott Park, located just off the Monon Trail, includes trails running through native woodland and around Williams Creek. Broad Ripple Park, located on the White River, offers a variety of recreational opportunities that are within walking distance of local neighborhoods.

Sycamore Springs
Hoped-For Park Slips Away

Protecting green space is key to curbing sprawl and Marion County, home to Indianapolis, has a plan to create new parks and protect open space. But over the past eight years, due to under-funding and a lack of commitment, 29 of 72 areas tagged as high-priority acquisitions have been lost.

Gated Sprawl: Sycamore SPrings turned open space that residents had hoped might become a park into more suburban sprawl.

The development of Sycamore Springs was built on 172 acres of fragile wetlands and lakeside habitat. Residents thought the open space might become a park. Instead, it was rezoned, surrounded by a high brick wall and developed. Many of the trees on the property were cut and little open space was preserved.

Sycamore Springs not only destroyed valuable open space, it's almost totally automobile-dependent. The roads surrounding the development are busy and have no sidewalks. There is a bus line nearby but it is difficult to access. Traffic in the area is a problem and the traffic generated by this gated community will just make it worse.

How did it happen? When faced with the request to rezone the open space, the metropolitan development commission said yes. Not only were public officials unsupportive of efforts to protect the land, the parks department had only a pittance to carry out the acquisition.

The saga of Sycamore Springs shows that there's more to smart growth than a good plan -- it needs support from public officials, planners and residents. In this case, opposition by locals wasn't enough to stop the project.

But some area environmentalists are pushing for a simple, free-market way to create more parks and help slow sprawl: Use impact fees on new development to fund open-space protection.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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