On the horizon
Mayor John Ditslear explains what the city is working on in 2013 and beyond
As Noblesville continues its momentum as “one of the best places to live and raise a family,” mayor John Distlear is also working to attract new businesses and improve the quality of life in 2013.
One of the biggest announcements this year could come shortly. While no agreement is in place yet, Ditslear said the city was actively pursuing an Ivy Tech Campus in Noblesville.
“Ivy Tech is very interested,” he said.
An Ivy Tech campus is coveted by several cities in Hamilton County, including Carmel and Fishers, but being located in the county seat of a growing community is preferred. Ditslear said Noblesville would provide a full campus, not a satellite location.
The campus would help to retrain employees and provide much-needed skills to younger people not going to college. Ditslear said the campus would not only provide better jobs to residents, but a more skilled labor force that would makes it easier for the city to attract businesses.
“We get asked about our workforce a lot,” Ditslear said. “That is important.”
Noblesville is receiving assistance from the state. Gov. Mike Pence is pushing for better skilled labor and local state leaders are also working on grants and financing ways to assist both sides.
“It’s very exciting. We are working on financing,” Ditslear said. “Sen. Luke Kenley is very helpful and enthusiastic.”
Ditslear said Ivy Tech would provide opportunities to several groups – high school students, graduates and adults, adding that the campus also would allow high school students to earn dual credits, which should transfer to all other state colleges. It also allows college students the opportunity to live and work in Noblesville while earning credits, degrees and job certifications.
The Ivy Tech Campus would be located at Noblesville East Middle School, 300 N. 17th St. The building used to house high school students and includes plenty of classroom space, offices, a gymnasium, auditorium, labs and the old industrial wing is still intact and could house Ivy Tech’s Snap-on Tool program.
“All those things could work together,” Ditslear said. “It’s ideal for Ivy Tech.”
If an agreement is made with Ivy Tech, it would remove one facility from Noblesville Schools. Looking ahead, the plan for the district is to move freshmen back into the high school (which would require an addition) and transforming the freshman campus back into a middle school. Ditslear said the football stadium and Hare Chevrolet Field would remain as school property and the parking lot would be used for events and the Boys & Girls Club.
After a year full of paving and ribbon cuttings, Ditslear said there were no major road construction projects planned for this year. One project completed in 2012 was the final phase of Union Chapel Road, which now provides the city an opportunity to bring more businesses to a location previously unaccessible.
“Union Chapel to Ind. 32 was so successful,” Ditslear said. “I’d love to have development fill in there. It’s planned or developed for businesses to have outside storage like Gaylor Electric and the Indiana Blood Center’s Bloodmobile.”
The Corporate Campus is also a focus of new construction. Because of work done ahead of time, Ditslear said the area was “shovel ready” and provided the city an opportunity to grow, attract businesses and jobs, and increase Noblesville’s assessed value.
“Success breeds success,” he said. “We’ve got some projects, people we are talking to. Its good things. We are starting to get interest particularly in Corporate Campus … We’re really talking to little folks and some big folks.”
Other items Ditslear identified included:
■ Construction of Phase Two of the Riverwalk project along the White River is significantly complete and will be wrapping up completely shortly. This phase of the Riverwalk project has consisted of connecting the Conner Street underpass across the back of the Judicial Center, underneath the Logan Street bridge, and up again where it connects with the pedestrian bridge to Forest Park.
■ At the street department, Ditslear said a new brine tank was purchased. The tank will make and store more of the brine-salt mixture. “For snow under two inches it’s the answer,” he said. “It provides cost savings and is more efficient.”
■ The planning department is currently conducting an audit of the city’s unified development ordinance and working on the comprehensive master plan. Ditslear said the UDO was created to help establish the rules and regulations for development in Noblesville as well as provide for the administration and enforcement of those rules and regulations.
■ The city is working on a joint department project to create the new Midland Trail. The goal of the project is to develop the old Midland Trace railway line into a trail from Hazel Dell Road west to Gray Road. The city has an agreement with Noblesville Schools to use a small amount of land behind Hazel Dell Elementary for the trail. “Work on Midland should start in 2013 in one way or another,” Ditslear said. “There is an emphasis on starting Midland.”
■ The number of city employees is down 28 during the course of many years. Ditslear said the decrease was due to attrition and a hiring freeze, which has caused departments to be lean and efficient while providing the same services residents expect. “We’re finding better ways to be more efficient,” he said. “We’re looking to improve on that with co-ops with Riverview Hospital, Hamilton County and Noblesville Schools – ways to improve purchases and cost-savings.”
■ While the city’s deal with Positron did not pan out, Ditslear said it provided the city with a “very valuable experience.” “The concept was great,” he said. “We really did everything we could do to attract them. What we did we’ll make us better.”