Planned Pedestrian Bridge a Key Part of Redevelopment
Over the years, the Town of Plainfield has made a major commitment to preserve and promote healthy lifestyles for its residents and visitors, while trying to build the tax base through thoughtful economic development. Town Council members believe the two components go hand-in-hand.
A part of that commitment has come in the form of an extensive system of trails that connect the beautiful parks with residential and retail areas around Plainfield. Over the past several weeks, much has been written and said about the town's desire to construct a pedestrian bridge over White Lick Creek near the U.S. 40 bridge just west of downtown. The pedestrian bridge is a key component to the trail system, but also is important to the redevelopment plan for the Town Center.
While the pedestrian bridge would allow safe access to the Town Center for parents and children using the proposed athletic fields at the Plainfield Re-entry Education Facility property, it also is critical to attracting new investment in the former site of Ron's TV and Clement Electric. An important aspect to the Town Center plan is to connect the trail system to downtown, which Council members believe will help attract further retail and office development, as well as helping to promote the existing businesses downtown.
The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to replace the U.S. 40 bridge over White Lick – the project could start in 2008 – during which time the main north-south trail will be closed for two construction seasons. The pedestrian bridge would provide those using the trail an entry and exit point around the bridge construction.
Plainfield's share of the bridge construction is $400,000, which is approximately 20 percent of the total project costs. The Town has secured federal funding to pay for the rest. With the ever-increasing cost of steel, Council members believe the time is right to move forward with the project.
According to Robin Brandgard, Council President, “If the Town were to reject this bridge and start over with some kind of standard bridge, it would delay the project for months and end up costing our residents the same or more money than the current alternative. Building this bridge, he says, “makes economic sense and further enhances the quality of life Plainfield has worked hard to achieve over the years.
Landfill Cleanup Presents Challenge and Opportunity
When the Town of Plainfield took ownership and control last year of the former Shouse landfill at 5344 Pike Lane, it knew what it was getting: challenge and opportunity. The challenge comes from the cleanup necessary to remediate the site, essentially a privately-owned garbage dump last used for that purpose in the 1970's. The opportunity comes from reclaiming this prime location – approximately 13.6 acres in total just north of the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center and bordered by White Lick Creek – for future recreational use.
The redevelopment process, which first requires environmental sampling, analysis, and remediation, is well underway. It is referred to as the “Shouse Brownfield Project"; because it involves a “brownfield", an area defined as property that is vacant - or not utilized as it could be - because of actual environmental contamination or perhaps just perceived contamination. While unattended brownfields can pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, carefully conducted redevelopment activities can return such sites to a completely safe natural resource and community asset. To help make that happen, the Town has already received two matching grants, totaling $111,500, from the Indiana Brownfields Program. Schneider Corporation, which is handling the project's environmental and brownfields redevelopment, has collected initial soil, groundwater, surface water, air, and sediment samples from the site for analysis. More sampling and analysis will be required to determine appropriate site remediation.
Tim Belcher, Plainfield Town Engineer, reports that significant progress has been made and that “we're working closely with Schneider and the Indiana Brownfields Program to make sure this redevelopment is done right.“ Though he admits that much remains to be done, Belcher adds that eventually “this site will be transformed from a liability into a true community asset.“
The exact nature of that future asset remains to be determined. Possibilities for the site's ultimate use include trails, picnic areas, outdoor aerobic and classroom facilities, a golfing “skills course“, a dog park, or even an ice skating and roller-hockey rink. Plainfield residents are invited to learn more about the project and provide input on the redevelopment by visiting a special web page that can be accessed from the Town's website: www.townofplainfield.com.