The compilation of 10 weeks of meetings, workshops and tours of Warsaw’s mostly downtown district was presented to the public Thursday night by the Ball State University urban planning classes. The results, some far-fetched or “pie in the sky” as project director Scott Truex admitted, were meant to give the community a vision of what could be if city leaders think outside the box.
An 8-member, BSU student team met with community leaders, high school students and local residents over a period of 10 weeks to gather input on areas of concern and what types of things they would like to see brought to Warsaw.
The main areas of focus were the former Little Crow building at Detroit and Market streets, the entire downtown district, Center Lake Park, the Gatke building and the Kosciusko County fairgrounds. The suggestion was made to move the fairgrounds to the location along U.S. 30 where the new YMCA will be built, and create an apartment complex, amphitheater, marina, retail shops, possible a fitness or recreation center and a park on the current fairgrounds.
Truex also suggested that, a perfect fit for the grounds near where the YMCA’s new facility will be constructed, is a paralympics training center. With the city’s leadership in global orthopedic research and development, he said the community leaders should think how the local businesses are working globally and look for ways to celebrate that.
He also noted MudLOVE, a local business, is working locally to make a difference globally. “Every time a new well is built, Warsaw should have a celebration,” said Truex. MudLOVE uses profits from its business to create clean drinking water sources in Africa.
Also, among the ideas for a new fairgrounds location was the establishment of a 1/4-mile race track.
With the likelihood that Warsaw will be a stop along a high-speed passenger rail service in the future, the idea for the current Gatke building property at South McKinley Street just north of East Winona Avenue, is to create a multi-modal transit hub. The idea suggested by the BSU students is to create a parking garage for high-speed rail customers, complete with a skywalk leading to a rail station. There is also room for a hotel and/or small conference center, a pool, and a bike shop to accommodate those who will utilize the already being development bike-pedestrian paths along South McKinley Street.
Suggestions for the former Little Crow building included the establishment of a “slow food restaurant,” an outdoor eating area, an aquaponics and fish research center, a demonstration urban gardening plot and even a food research center.
In the downtown area it was suggested the city look at better use of alleyways by creating more “public use” areas to create things like outdoor eating areas. The idea to better connect downtown to Center Lake was also looked at and it was suggesting implementing an extension of public space along the lake by expanding the beach are to include the east side of the lake and create a boardwalk area with more retail shops and opportunities for arts and crafts vendors and entertainment.
In his conclusions of the plans, Truex began, “As an urban planner, I see (Warsaw) developing to a little Kokomo … Warsaw should be a leader. The quality of life you have here is getting better every day.”
Among the ideas he said are critical for Warsaw leaders to consider are those presented by the younger generations because of the way technology is changing, Truex said it is crucial that cities begin looking at things like electric car ports and even urban garden areas.
The Ball State study has completed just as the city’s comprehensive plan is getting underway. Community input is crucial for the future development of the city and the public is encouraged to complete an online survey to help identify strengths, weaknesses, needs and community values. The survey can be found HERE.
The complete BSU study and artist renderings of the plan will soon be available online at Imagine Warsaw.
Using the BSU workshop as a springboard, the city of Warsaw is also preparing a new comprehensive plan and is asking for residents input by completing an online survey, attending a public workshop, or both.
To participate in a public workshop, attend one or both of the upcoming opportunities at City Hall, 102 S. Buffalo St. The first is 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 25; and the second is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, July 26.
To take the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/warsaw-survey