There’s nothing that builds an impactful and memorable community quite like waterways. Great civilizations of old have nearby rivers, lakes, and oceans to thank for success on their shores. They literally give life to our farm fields, our cities, and ourselves. If you look back to Indy’s roots – its earliest beginnings, where conversations of the community that thrives today were just getting started – you’ll find it all began on the banks of the White River. And with Indy’s quintessentially Midwestern topography, devoid of mountains and oceans (though home to some of the most stunning sunsets and wide-open skies), our waterways are our defining natural features.
People are naturally drawn to water—its perpetual motion, beautiful wildlife, and recreational opportunities. It’s why cities across the nation are repurposing waterfronts for public use. That idea is nothing new here in Indy. Take the recent creation of White River State Park from industrial brownfields, for example, or the historic Kessler Parks and Boulevards systems a century earlier, which used waterways to connect parks and public lands for future use. You’ll come back to the same conclusion: the way we interact with our waterways is what makes Indy a great place to live and visit.
We are presented with a exciting opportunity to reimagine what our waterways could look like in the future. Indy’s in the middle of a huge project to eliminate combined sewer overflows, which would dramatically improve water quality. As a community, we’re looking toward a new horizon where the White River forms the backbone of a expansive network of public parks, attractions, vibrant cultural districts, and diverse neighborhoods. A future where we grow our community alongside our rivers and creeks, rather than around them. A network of experiences for everyone, from quiet reflection to adventurous outings; from places to meet friends for dinner and drinks while the sun sets to opportunities to explore the stories of the river’s past. The White River can be a signature part of living and visiting Indy.
Embracing the waterways that define our landscape and connect our communities is the natural next step for our city. It will provide us an avenue to pursuing tourism with a purpose: improving quality of life. It’s about about bringing people of diverse backgrounds together around a shared resource. It’s about helping people fall in love with these resources. It’s about allowing them to be part of the change and become stronger stewards to protect them.
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Check out these Destination Vision plan actions: