White River Vision Plan, Discovery Phase

White River PlanThe City of Indianapolis, Hamilton County Tourism, Inc., and Visit Indy have released a general overview of how the White River Vision Plan will shake out. Friends of the White River are involved as a member of the Stakeholder Committee and the first public meetings have been scheduled:

July 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
Noblesville City Hall
16 S. 10th Street, Noblesville

July 12, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Paul J. Norman Center, Marian University
3200 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis

July 12, 6 to 8 p.m.
Riverside Park Family Center

2420 E. Riverside Drive, Indianapolis

Visit the White River Vision plan web site and read an in-depth piece that looks at partners and efforts to support White River: Embracing a Treasure: White River by Thomas P. Healy, Indy Midtown Magazine, July 10, 2018.


News release:

The White River Vision Plan (vision plan) is a joint effort between the City of Indianapolis and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. in partnership with Visit Indy’s philanthropic arm, Tourism Tomorrow, Inc. to develop a comprehensive and coordinated regional, community-driven plan to enhance 58 miles of the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties. The goal of the vision plan is to create an accessible, recreational, and cultural environment that encourages a unique sense of place for the community as a whole, similar to finished “river city” developments in cities like Nashville, Columbus, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

The White River Vision Plan will be developed to promote:

  • Access to the White River for residents and visitors — our two largest, most important audiences
  • The environmental value and ecological quality of the river corridor, including its water quality and natural habitats
  • Connection to attractions, arts and entertainment venues, hiking and biking trails, and neighborhoods
  • Educational and thematic recreational water experiences

Community Engagement

Community participation and feedback is the most important aspect of developing a plan to create an ecologically and economically healthy corridor, which will weave neighborhoods, institutions, and destinations together, as well as amplify the natural beauty of the region and make the White River a defining element of the community’s daily experiences. Community members in and around central Indiana will be encouraged to share visions, needs, and desires for the White River Vision Plan through a series of public meetings. They will have the chance to speak with local and national organizations leading the vision plan, tourism industry officials, environmental advocacy organizations, and elected officials. Feedback will be used to develop a vision statement, goals, and objectives to achieve the vision set forth by the community.

Why Now?

For more than 100 years, other local community initiatives have frequently held the White River as a keystone in planning and developing central Indiana tourism and community activities. The White River Vision Plan is not intended to replace these initiatives, but to work with them to bring ideas to fruition. Creating a plan to enhance the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties guides regional growth for our century.

Vision Plan Process Timeline

Coordinated plans include enhancement of existing places, activation of new spaces, and identification of areas in need of important ecological protection or restoration. The vision plan will be completed in four phases over twelve months beginning April 2018 through April 2019. Each phase of the vision plan includes a public meeting for Central Indiana residents to learn more and share feedback.

Phase 1 Discovery: (April – July 2018)

  • The White River Vision Plan will take inventory of plans previously created for the White River, identify current land ownership along the river, development and mobility patterns, demographic and economic trends, environmental systems and and relevant stakeholders. It will include research of current ecological and hydrologic conditions and water quality along the river.
  • Public meetings: July 11 & July 12

Phase 2 Envision: (July – December 2018)

  • Potential destination locations and features to be included in those destinations will be assessed, and specific neighborhood districts close to the river will be identified to highlight within the vision plan. Programming, events, market conditions, and unique features will be considered.
  • Areas of unusual ecological, historical, cultural, scientific or aesthetic significance that are currently overlooked along the river will be identified. The river’s overall system of connectivity will be assessed for gaps and future opportunities.
  • Finally, concepts and design plans will be created to develop the White River and include themes, events and experiences already in place in the 58 miles between Marion to Hamilton counties.
  • Public meeting dates to be determined for Phase 2

Phase 3 Action: (December 2018 – April 2019)

  • The White River Vision Plan will identify any policy or legal barriers that could prevent implementation of the plan, and secure public and/or private investors to fully fund development preceding the planning process.
  • The Plan will provide guidance for the Central Indiana community to implement and support the plan to final creation.
  • Public meeting dates to be determined for Phase 3

When the vision plan is finished, what happens?

The vision plan will offer recommendations with details for completion and ways to support projects and infrastructure included in the plan — this also involves ways to secure funding to ensure execution of the vision plan once approved.

The Experts

Agency Landscape + Planning, a group of talented landscape architects, planners and urban designers, has been selected to lead a group of local and national businesses who specialize in regional outdoor projects and revitalization initiatives. Led by Gina Ford and Brie Hensold, Agency believes in a more resilient and equitable approach to planning and design that results in more relevant, contextual and vibrant public environments. The Agency team also includes many local and national firms. Local partners include Christopher Burke Engineering / CBBEL, Engaging Solutions, Ratio Architects, Porch Light, Landstory, Pure Design, Fineline Graphics, Shrewsberry and Project Photo Docs. National team members include Land Collective, Heritage Strategies, Applied Ecological Services / AES and HR&A Advisors.