In a key step toward developing a Southside Quality of Life Plan, a community meeting Saturday will enable the public to hear about preliminary study results and voice concerns about issues facing neighborhoods around the UIndy campus.
The Quality of Life initiative is backed by Fifth Third Bank, UIndy, the Local Initiatives Support Corp., the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership and other community partners. The intent is to prioritize needs and issues facing this pocket of the Southside so that residents, merchants and other stakeholders can work with the public and private sectors to spur economic development and build a more sustainable community.
The Visioning Summit from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Roch Catholic School on Meridian Street will include discussions on a broad range of issues, including the state of the housing market, infrastructure needs, development along the Madison Avenue and Shelby Street corridors, health and safety issues, education options and employment opportunities.
“This is a kickoff event for more public involvement,” said Scarlett Andrews Martin, the staffer hired to coordinate the nonprofit effort.
The Quality of Life study area comprises about 4 square miles bounded by I-65 to the east, I-465 to the south, Meridian Street to the west and Beecher Street to the north. It includes the UIndy campus, Garfield Park and the neighborhoods of University Heights, University Highlands, Carson Heights, Meridian Raymond, South Village and Rosedale Hills.
At the Visioning Summit, breakout sessions at 10 and 11:15 a.m. will enable attendees to learn about and offer input on specific issues of interest. The organizers hope to develop six to eight “action teams” of several volunteers each who will meet through the spring to help develop the written Quality of Life Plan, which is scheduled for unveiling later this summer.
UIndy students already have played a role in the process. Five graduate students and 10 undergrads guided by Associate Professor of Sociology James Pennell administered a campus survey to collect input from students, faculty and staff. Among the preliminary results, they found that the UIndy community sees the area’s proximity and easy access to downtown Indianapolis as a major neighborhood asset.
The Southside planning area follows eight other pockets of the city where the Local Initiatives Support Corp. has led the development of Quality of Life plans that so far have helped to attract $458 million in housing, business and community development projects.