Reconsider the Downtown Canal Playspace

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Public Petition to Reconsider the Planned Playspace at Walnut Street on the Canal in Downtown Indianapolis.

As concerned citizens of Indianapolis and Friends of the Indianapolis Downtown Canal, we urge Indianapolis city officials and civic leaders to strongly reconsider the installation of the planned playspace along the downtown canal at Walnut Street. 

While the planned playspace construction is imminent, the City of Indianapolis and project leaders did not make available opportunities for broad community or surronding resident input for the use of this public parcel using public dollars.  No community input was sought regarding the selected location, playspace design or desired use of the important civic space in downtown Indianapolis.

The proposed site for the playspace is a critical green asset in downtown Indianapolis and along the iconic downtown canal.  Indianapolis residents deserve the opportunity to have a voice and express their opinions on how this important civic space is activated and used.  

Our Immediate Concerns:

1.     The current playspace design is aesthetically and architecturally inappropriate for the selected location. The bright blue color, branding, selected materials and scale of the structure would not complement the existing natural beauty of the existing space and it will detract from the existing picturesque landscape of the downtown canal.  

2.     The proposed playspace would further reduce available greenspace in downtown Indianapolis, will harm an existing tree canopy and will negatively impact the vibrancy and natural beauty of the downtown canal. 

3.     The proposed playspace immediately adjacent to the USS Indianapolis War Memorial is contextually inappropriate. 

4.     The proposed site is currently meeting a unique need downtown and is attracting a diverse group of residents who are actively using this civic space. If the playspace is built the existing blend of unique activities and urban social cohesion will be permanently lost.

5.     There are no planned restrooms for families with small children at the playspace location and there is no designated accessible public parking available for visitors in the immediate area.  


 Aesthetics of Design

The downtown canal is an amenity that makes Indianapolis unique. This linear urban park is a source of pride and natural beauty and the planned design will be visually harsh in the selected space.  The bright blue color, branding, selected playspace material and hardscape will not blend into the beautiful natural and green surroundings and the size and scale of the playspace would visually overwhelm the site and surrounds. 

The current playspace design is aesthetically and architecturally inappropriate for the selected location. The bright blue color, branding, selected materials and scale of the structure would not complement the existing natural beauty of the existing space and it will detract from the existing an iconic picturesque landscape of the downtown canal.  

Loss of Greenspace & Trees

As Indianapolis continues to flourish and grow, increasing development downtown has resulted in a significant decrease in public greenspace.  Open greenspaces in downtown are rapidly disappearing and being replaced with infill, built infrastructure, parking garages, housing and retail. The existing space has trees that will be lost or harmed as a result of the playspace installation. This parcel and its existing tree canopy provide essential shade for canal visitors who currently use the space for recreation and respite. Greenspaces and trees contribute to quality of life. The value a city places on green preservation is what can make a city stand out among its peers who are competing for talent.

The proposed playspace would further reduce available greenspace in downtown Indianapolis, will harm an existing tree canopy and will negatively impact the vibrancy and natural beauty of the downtown canal. 

USS Indianapolis Memorial Proximity

The proposed playspace will be placed within feet of the existing USS Indianapolis War Memorial. The proposed playspace immediately adjacent to this War Memorial is contextually inappropriate and is disrespectful of this sacred space. Aesthetically, the proposed playspace would distract from the peaceful, tranquil and reflective canal setting and reduce the area’s quality of place.  The utility and social value of the property itself would be greatly diminished if developed as proposed rather than continuing as a usable self-directed open civic space. 

The proposed playspace immediately adjacent to the USS Indianapolis War Memorial is contextually inappropriate. 

An Activated and Unique Gathering Space for Residents

The proposed location for the playspace is actively being used. In recent years this parcel on the canal has organically been activated and become a gathering space for hammocks, picnics, outdoor games, the Indy Slackliners, Indy acro-yoga and organized drum circles. This location has also become the unofficial dog park for downtown neighborhood residents. There is nowhere else in downtown Indianapolis where this consistent and unique mix of activities and diverse resident engagement happens in a public greenspace. This self-directed recreation and use of space is unique to downtown and would be lost for a diverse population of residents and downtown neighbors.

The proposed site is currently meeting a unique need downtown and is attracting a diverse group of residents who are actively using this civic space. If the playspace is built the existing blend of unique activities and urban social cohesion will be lost. 

Access to Public Amenities

There are no public restrooms planned at the playspace location which is an important amenity for families with young children.  The closest restroom on the canal is a 1/4 mile away from the playspace which is a significant distance especially for young children. The location of the designated restroom is also not well marked and is not intuitive for individuals to locate.  In addition, this area of the canal has no designated public parking in the immediate area making accessing the playspace difficult for residents who want to drive to this location. Area businesses with adjacent lots have not been welcoming or supportive of canal users using private parking lots to access the canal which has historically caused frustrations for visitors. 

There are no planned restrooms for families with small children at the playspace location and there is no designated accessible public parking available for visitors in the immediate area. 

Contact Your Civic Leaders                                                                                       

Jeff Bennett, Deputy Mayor of Community Development            jeff.bennett@indy.gov

Vop Osili, City Council President and Councillor for District 11 (canal) voposili@gmail.com

Linda Broadfoot, Director of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Linda.Broadfoot@Indy.Gov

Lori Hazlett, Indianapolis Parks Foundation             lhazlett@indyparksfoundation.org

Sherry Seiwert, Downtown Indy                                          sherry@downtownindy.org

Related Media Articles

Colts and Indy Parks Unveil Plans for a playspace on the canal     https://www.wthr.com/article/indianapolis-colts-indy-parks-unveil-plans-for-playspace-along-the-canal

Group Asks City to Rethink Indy Canal Playground Idea https://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/indianapolis/downtown/group-asks-city-to-rethink-indy-canal-playground-idea

Rally to Oppose Downtown Playground Near Downtown Canal https://www.wishtv.com/news/local-news/rally-set-to-oppose-playground-near-downtown-canal/1237806511

 



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