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The original item was published from 6/9/2020 2:07:00 PM to 6/9/2020 2:10:28 PM.

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Town News

Posted on: April 28, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Recap: Live Sessions with Mayor Emily Styron and Town Council President Josh Garrett

Interactive Live Session 1

Mayor Emily Styron and Town Council President Josh Garrett have taken to YouTube for bi-weekly interactive live sessions. These sessions provide timely updates to residents and businesses and offer an opportunity for the community to ask questions.

Recap of the live session on June 9 featuring guest speaker Zionsville Police Department Chief Spears. 

What is Indiana law related to crosswalks? I would love to have the law that gives pedestrians priority by having signs that says “Stop for pedestrians - it’s the law” at all crosswalks in town.

Crosswalks do not mean pedestrians have absolute right-of-way. Pedestrians have a responsibility to make sure they can cross without impeding traffic. At the same time, motorists have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians who have already entered the crosswalk. Both pedestrians and motorists have to be cognizant of each other. It’s important for residents to understand that signage around pedestrian crosswalks states that motorists are to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks not at the crosswalk. When pedestrians are standing by the road, vehicles have the right-of-way. Only once the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, crossing the road, traffic has the responsibility to stop. 

The Town is working on a mobility access committee and having more community conversations around where people are crossing the street and there isn’t a crosswalk. This committee will launch once we can more easily meet in person again. 

What are your thoughts on Perry Township?

There are opportunities to look into "Welcome to Zionsville" signage and street signs. I’ve talked to Councilor Craig Melton, who represents Perry Township, and the Deputy Mayor about hosting listening tours in Perry Township. It’s time to look at a comprehensive plan effort over the next 18-24 months.

Vehicles slide off the road going southbound on Ford Road around the curve to 96h Street. Is there anything that can be done?

We have reached out to our county engineer who manages the road projects in this area. This area is under the County highway jurisdiction. 

When will we hear the administration’s plans to address traffic flow in the Village?

We are talking to a planing organization and civil engineering firm about guiding our community through conversations and idea generation sessions related to the Village Business District and under-developed areas on Sycamore, Main Street and First Street. We want residents and policy makers to sit down and think about what we would like to see developed and how to approach the traffic situation. We want to come up with 1 - 3 potential ideas and take this information to developers and to infrastructure/engineering firms to put together proposals.

Paved parking is very limited in Starkey Park. What additional parking options are there?

To whatever degree your family can visit our parks by foot or bike, that’s a good plan. In the meantime, try to go during non-peak times. If you park in the grass, be mindful of where you are and who is around you. We do recognize there is a need for more parking options and will be looking into how we can increase parking.

We have seen more protests around the world. Chief Spears - what are your feelings on this topic and what we can do as a community?

It’s important for people to remember they don’t always know how others feel and what life experiences they have had. What happened in Minneapolis is absolutely wrong. In Zionsville, we’re fortunate to have had citizens come together and speak up about the injustice that has happened and continues to exit. They did so in a peaceful and respectful way, honoring the memory of Mr. Floyd. 

I’ve looked at our policies and spent time refining our policies. I am looking to prepare a use of force board. The use of force is a broad continuum. Any time our officers are involved in a situation where force is used, a supervisor and EMS must come on scene. From those investigations, a report will be prepared and reviewed by the use of force board. I have also prepared a detailed monthly report and my intention is to distribute this to elected officials, police officers and the public. In this report, I list every use of force and we rarely use force which speaks volumes to the de-escalation tactics we use and the way we use words to diffuse situations.

Recap of the live session on May 26 featuring guest speaker Deidra T. Rausch of The Cabin in Zionsville in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.

How is The Cabin helping families cope with stress and new challenges?

We have seen a shift in anxiety in children in the last 20 years with children experiencing anxiety disorders. Kids respond to their parents in terms of their anxiety and as a parent, we want to tell them it’s okay. This may help in the short-term but doesn’t allow the child or teenager to cope with their anxieties later. In terms of relationship survival tips, now there is little boundary between work and home expectations. We should name who does what and whatever you commit to, follow through. The world is not trustworthy right now so we need a partner we can trust. Also, partners can have different reactions to this: one partner may be very concerned about germs and the other may be more laid back. Don’t expect your partner to feel the same way you do. Offer some understanding and goodwill. Finally, disconnect to help your relationships and your brain.

Is there a balance between watching the news and disconnecting?

Something I do is encourage people to get off social media. People who spend more time outside in your own yard or in a park are doing a lot better.

How do I help my child not worry about playing with his or her friends?

There is a cost-benefit between the risk of the virus and the risk of social isolation. The best way we can help our children’s anxiety is to talk about it, not to brush it off or offer reassurances we aren’t sure of. In this situation, it may be best to allow one playmate and after the fact, debrief. 

With anxiety, at what point do you have the conversation at home vs. talking to a professional?

With kids, if you see a change with grades or sleeping patterns, that is a good time to speak with someone. Anxiety is actually a fairly easily treatable issue, especially with kids. It’s critical that care happens earlier rather than later. Kids who are talking about their anxiety are often much less in need of a therapist. If you’re not sure, ask a professional.

There is a weight on business owners right now to be careful, thoughtful and transparent. Could you speak to those of us who are business owners?

As the leader, we need to say that the expectation is to come back to the office on this date. But I know there is some liability in making this call. What helps me is to be very transparent in conversations with employees, to give them space to re-accommodate to being in the office, to give them masks and offer plexiglass. A weekly Zoom call with staff can be a good way to reach out and connect. Connecting is more important than ever.

Recap of some of the questions asked during the live session on May 12.

Is there a timeline for the demolition of the PNC lot? Has any thought/discussion been had for what to do with the property?

The plan is to remove the building and prepare the lot for a short-term approach for parking. The longer-term project is to look at the entryway into Town and see what we can do with that space for traffic flow or something that would support commercial development. We also want to think through the Zionsville Farmers Market. But the first immediate piece is to remove it.

What value add does Zionsville offer the Rural Community of Southern Perry Township? When will Zionsville start investing our tax dollars into this community in a positive way resulting in maintaining the rural setting and lifestyle?

Perry Township joined with Zionsville as part of the reorganization process about five years ago. There are no plans to turn Perry Township into a big commercial area but also no plans to leave it entirely rural. It will be a mixture of commercial and rural like Zionsville is today. Zionsville’s Comprehensive Plan will guide us. 

To some degree, diversity of growth and being more vibrant is what a community is about and what helps deliver services to residents. Mayor Styron has seen changes in land use patterns, especially in the 65 Corridor and understands that those in rural environments have a desire to see that environment stay. Planning documents, for years, have looked at the Perry Township area as an opportunity to grow and develop in a variety of ways and that can, unfortunately, create tension. We are looking at balancing the economic opportunities that Perry Township provides and the added value to the entire Town.

Can we see about making a plan for golf carts to get from Cedar Bend to downtown? As of now, we cannot get there with the current road restrictions.

Last year we passed a golf cart ordinance that allows golf carts on some Town streets. This is a living and breathing ordinance. We plan to relook at it and possibly expand the routes offered.

There are a number of streets in Zionsville that have no sidewalks. One example is Greenfield Road between the Carmel border to the east and Michigan Road to the west and Willow Road to the west. Is there any overall plan in the works to install sidewalks/pathways along streets in Zionsville where sidewalks don’t currently exist?

There is a pathway plan and pathway committee. There are a number of places where there are gaps in the pathways/sidewalks and we strive to get those projects started when there is private investment that can go along with the construction. A certain amount of money each year is spent from the Town’s budget on pathways/sidewalks but often projects start because there is a development in the area which will help offset the Town’s costs.

Ford Road is being worked on for the third time in the 12 months. Appears the construction company did it incorrectly the first two times. Did Zionsville still incur the cost of that work?

In the previous live session, Lance Lantz, Superintendent of the Zionsville Street & Stormwater Department, mentioned three phases of roadwork: the first part of the work is sidewalk/curb repairs, the second phase is base repairs and the third phase is milling. The road often looks worse before it gets better. Work done last fall may have left the road jagged and bumpy but that was a phase in the overall project. There were no additional costs to the town and the sequencing was as planned.

Recap of some of the questions asked during the live session on April 28.

Can you update us on why so many roads are torn up or patched?

Spring is here and you will start seeing more cones around town. The Town sees two kinds of road projects – a stand-alone road project and lightly engineered projects.

Zionsville Road is a stand-alone road project. There is one contractor working on one project.

The annual road resurfacing/road rehab projects are examples of lightly engineered projects. Every year, the Town budgets approximately $1.5 million for the road rehab program. For example, Ford Road was part of the 2019 annual rehab program but as the Town grows, and projects grow, it becomes difficult to fit everything in one calendar year. The contractor working on this project is also working on 11 other projects in town. On a typical scenario, we have anywhere from 12 – 30 roads under one contract.

The first thing you see in a road rehabilitation project is work on the curbs and sidewalks (along Ford Road, you will see several new concrete curb ramps to meet federal, state and local standards). After the concrete crew finishes the ancillary work, the patching crew will repair the underlying structural issues underneath the road (sunken spots, areas holding water, etc.). This is what results in “rough patches.” In the next phase, the milling crew comes in. This crew grinds up the asphalt which results in a temporarily rough road. This is the last phase before paving begins.

How will the Coronavirus shut down affect the completion of the new Sycamore Street Bridge and the completion of Zionsville Road projects?

With the best available information today, COVID-19 has not had an effect on the timing of our projects. The Sycamore Street Bridge Project is a Boone County Highway Department project and so far, there have been no COVID-19 delays. As of right now, the completion of Zionsville Road is still on schedule to be completed by end of May.

How will Zionsville help small businesses recover from COVID-19?

There are small business resources on the Town website:

When a business is okay to open, will there be anyone following up to see if we are all following the recommended guidelines? What happens to individuals who do not follow the mandate? Will Zionsville go on the opening recommendations of the governor or not? From my understanding, local governments cannot go less time but can extend it more.

Zionsville intends to follow the lead of the State of Indiana as to guidance and guidelines. In terms of enforcement, there will be guidelines from the state for various businesses and industries and the Town will adhere to those. Boone County has an emergency command structure, in collaboration with the Boone County Health Department, and will have codes and regulations.

We are asking everyone to use common sense, support our local businesses and follow guidelines that keep you safe.

Zionsville needs a dog park or dog run. There are hundreds of dogs in Zionsville and nowhere for them to run. 

We agree! This is something the Town is exploring. 

When will it be possible for the Zionsville Golf Course to open?

In the interest of the safety of the community and Town employees, and in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, all Town facilities are closed. This includes Zionsville Golf Course. There are many factors to consider in opening a golf course, including disinfecting, use of carts, etc. We are taking the cautious approach and we continue to follow the County and Governor’s guidelines and CDC guidelines regarding social distancing. Once there is a date, we will share this information on the Town’s website and social media.

I really enjoy the Big-4 Rail Trail. What is the current status for connecting it to Whitestown?

At the north end, the Big-4 Rail Trail ends at Zionsville’s Heritage Trail Park. Negotiations for the last half mile of land needed to reach Whitestown were completed December 2019. Final land acquisition, engineering and construction plans will start this year and carry into 2021. To complete the south extension, there were five parcels needed. Considerable effort has been conducted on the last parcel, but acquisition is still in progress. Engineering and construction/bid documentation will start this year.

What plans are in place to monitor traffic and control speeds this summer with all of the construction projects and keep the kids, families and residents safe?

Pedestrian and bicycle safety is vitally important. Officers are aware of most locations where traffic tends to exceed the speed limit or where there are projects or detours and patrols are directed to these areas. If there are neighborhoods or specific roadways in need of more attention, please let Zionsville Police Department (ZPD) know. ZPD wants to know where speeding is occurring, especially in areas where there is extra pedestrian or bicycle traffic or school zones.

One of Chief Spears’ goals is to increase the number of officers on the road and remind drivers of the speed limit.

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