Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Monon-Kroger Expressway, Courtesy of City Leaders

I am not sure how I missed the story about one of Indy's newest public-private partnerships. The Indianapolis Star reports that Kroger has signed a 20 year contract to maintain 600 feet of the Monon trail on the city's northside. In exchange, Kroger has been permitted to build right next to the trail, just south of 86th Street. This will involve knocking down thirteen trees in the area that previously provided trail users with a shaded canopy when traveling through the area. The artist rendering of what the development will look like shows the Monon converted to a nice, unshaded path all the way up to Krogers.

Isn't the whole point of the Monon is that it is a park, that people can ride through the city while experiencing trees, nature, and the great outdoors? Development is important, but why does it have to be right on the trail? What's next, a Wal-Mart at Eagle Creek Park?

If this continues, the Monon could be turned into nothing more than a nice sidewalk between stores.

18 comments:

Downtown Indy said...

If I read correctly, the trees are already down and the story came about because of complaints to that effect.

No doubt this will spur other businesses to make a similar pitch to MDC (or whomever) since 'you let Kroger do it.'

This is something of a repeat of the Simon HQ/greenspace debacle.

Greenspace is only preserved so long as some corporation doesn't want the space.

varangianguard said...

Jeez. All of this coverage made it sound like Kroger was clear cutting old growth forest, or something.

I looked on StreetView. The trees there couldn't be more than 20' tall (no doubt dating to the creation of the Monon Trail). New trees will regain that kind of height soon enough (depending upon exactly what kind of replacement trees are planted). And what? They cut a whole 13 of them?

Somehow, I can't quite equate this with the Simon HQ deal.

jabberdoodle said...

The City should not be giving up park land to accommodate drainage for anybody. If Kroger could not build the drainage feature on site, it should not have received a building permit. And, if it knew it couldn't accommodate the drainage before then, it should not have received zoning for the property - especially when that zoning ran counter to the comprehensive plan recommendation.

This isn't an isolated event. Kroger has been given carte blanche for no other reason than they are Kroger.

Downtown Indy said...

Javing consulted the maps, I guess it IS rather overblown. The 'shaded canopy' is rather optimistic. I had envisioned an area like the Monon I travel - south of BR Ave where it's truly a canopy and somewhat isolated.

It appears the Kroger is repurposing an expanse of craggy, neglected asphalt with a meager row of trees along the trail's edge.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think the "canopy" may be overblown. However, people are focusing too much on the trees and missing the bigger point - letting a big commerical establishment build front and center on the Monon.

What happens when other businesses want to locate on the Monon? How about a McDonalds? Or a Wal-Mart? Or a Home Depot?

Once you open the door to this type of development you are in danger of turning a linear park into a sidewalk between businesses.

jabberdoodle said...

Kroger should have to provide drainage on the property it owns. Not city owned property. Especially not park land.

Also, I don't see how you can evaluate the condition of the trees from Google SteetMaps. The Street View doesn't go onto the Monon and the aerial view is without foliage. Checking the City's website, it looks like the City granted Kroger easement on nearly half the width of the Monon.

Again, if Kroger couldn't provide for its own development on its own land - tough luck.

Downtown Indy said...

Anyone else looked at the area?

Google Map

Not much being 'lost' here as the area is already wall-to-wall commercial.

I was against it until I saw what is there now.

varangianguard said...

jd, I have some experience with interpreting aerial photography, that's all.

The drainage thing might be an issue, but I doubt it.

The 86th Street crossing for the Monon Trail is commercial, zoning-wise. It has been for as long as 86th Street has been developed. Purists should use other legs, if it bothers them so much.

And IIRC, some pre-existing neighbors of the Trail think that users are a major annoyance. Should we close the Trail because they don't like you strolling behind their backyards?

Indy Student said...

I just found out about this yesterday. Not only is it a huge eye sore. And yes, trees aren't the biggest deal. But the shade that those trees provide made that part of the Monon much more bearable. Try resting at those benches with the sun beating down.

It just adds insult to injury that the city just gave away city owned property just to please a business.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DI,

Again, I think the problem is that they are allowing a huge commercial development on the trail. People are too focused on the trees.

varangianguard said...

Paul, but isn't the area already developed (with older properties that have little or no landscaping)? One cannot expect the entire length of the Monon Trail to be pristine, unless one wants to pay for it?

It would have to be in the form of a user fee, because people on my side of town could care less about the frail sensibilities of people using the 86th Street leg of the Trail.

Need shade? Wear a hat.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I have no problem with existing businesses. The difference here is that this is NEW commercial development, and not only new development, but a huge development that is being permitted to build right next to the Monon.

The city has already said this is the first in several such privatization deals. You are going to end up with the Monon just being a trail between stores. We already have those in this city. They are called sidewalks.

varangianguard said...

Paul, isn't that posturing, just a little?

I think a review of the entirety of the Trail would reveal many more residential abutments, and fewer commercial ones.

I would think that all of this "pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth" might be better saved for more critical potentialities?

The thing is, I live on the Southside and the Trail was a waste of my tax dollars because it is too far away to be of much use to me. Since it does me no good, the idea of users paying for usage (see recent criticisms of the downtown stadia) would seem just as appropriate here.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Varan,

Wow, I really don't agree. It would be a piece of cake for the city to make the necessary zoning changes (when needed) to push through more and more commercial development. Look how they're shoving that apartment development through downtown. They needed zoning changes there too...didn't stop them from cooking up a sweetheart deal for a politically-connected developer.

I'm not sure why we should suddenly trust that the Ballard administration won't start selling off Monon parkland frontage to businesses when they clearly have shown a history of trying to sell anything in the city that isn't moving. Actually, that's not true. Quite often they give stuff away, and don't even bother to sell it.

I know said...

Paul,
Ballard is only following the lead of State Government and some of the fine administrators that have given away decades long contracts, given the operator the assets that state was to hold and then start trying to pass legislation to give them bail out money after they screwed their own financial riches out the window.

Give Ballard credit he learned it from his handlers in the grand City of Indianapolis whether in the State House, the City Hall, the Columbia Club or in the suites at Lucas Oil Stadium or Conseco Fieldhouse.

varangianguard said...

I think that in 10.5 miles of trail, 13 trees in yuppieville is peanuts.

This is all out of proportion.

jabberdoodle said...

As a southsider I think I need to weigh in again here.

Truly the southside is the forgotten land where no amount of ugly is against zoning codes. Take for example, Mount Ballard and ski resort (formerly Mount Peterson) being erected on Hanson Aggregates property abutting I-465 and the White River. Just one example.

But, because we have to fight and fight down here, doesn't mean I won't support the successful efforts of some northsiders who invented the Monon Trail. It took them years to convince the city to make it into a park. Now the city shows it does not appreciate the gem the Monon is as a place of respite from over commercialization and the pace of urban life.

It isn't just 13 trees. It is an ignorant attitude in the Parks Department that favors commercial access to the Monon, over the features that make the Monon popular to the citizens. Money money money and more money. Screw the quality of life that the Monon symbolizes and make it a cash cow for the city as much as you can.

The residents of Indy, north south east and west, deserve a Parks Department that protects parks. Not asking much here.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Jabber,

I agree...people are way too focused on the thirteen trees. The problem is the precedent of allowing big commercial development along the Monon. What you said below is perfect:

"It isn't just 13 trees. It is an ignorant attitude in the Parks Department that favors commercial access to the Monon, over the features that make the Monon popular to the citizens. Money money money and more money. Screw the quality of life that the Monon symbolizes and make it a cash cow for the city as much as you can.

The residents of Indy, north south east and west, deserve a Parks Department that protects parks. Not asking much here."