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 July 14 featuring guest speaker Zionsville Police Department Chief Spears.
With our nearness to Indianapolis and the social/economic make-up of the town, is violence a concern? How are you preparing for things such as riots and violence?
The Zionsville Police Department monitors activities in areas adjacent to our town. Even before recent events, ZPD worked with neighboring police departments and frequently shares intelligence, reviews reports and monitors social media for information. ZPD works with individuals and groups desiring to have their voices heard. ZPD maintains an inventory of equipment and supplies to respond promptly in a professional manner to unplanned events. Within Zionsville, communication and respect have combined to create an environment for peaceful assemblies.
During the recent periods of disorder, Chief Spears assigned a Zionsville police officer to the Indianapolis Police Emergency Operations Center. This officer monitored activities and immediately alerted the department of threats and intelligence which allowed proper levels of staffing and preparedness. Training together allows officers from both departments to utilize the same techniques and significantly improves mutual aid.
Our neighbors in Rock Bridge have been noticing a drop in cellular service to the point that it is now a safety concern. What is the Town of Zionsville doing to address this? We are your citizens and our safety should be a top concern.
The short answer is nothing and that answer is not for a lack of compassion to your concern or a lack of validity to your concern. This is more regulatory in nature - cellular services are regulated by the federal government by the FCC. There is nothing we are the Town or even the state can do to mandate service or prevent service from going up. Now that we have three major providers, find the cellular service that gives you the best coverage is a good step for you. I would report drop stops to the carrier as reporting them to us will not assist matters. As 5G rolls out, this should improve. In terms of safety, I would recommend having a landline as a backup. Law enforcement has radios that are much more reliable and have a broader spectrum.
The new golf cart rules seem a little stupid to me. Why make it legal then restrict the street?
The ordinance was primarily passed so people could legally use golf carts in subdivisions. The intent behind the golf cart ordinance is so that if you live in a community, particularly one with a golf course, you can drive it on the roads within your subdivision. The road restrictions, as stated, are not set in stone and this is a living document. Do we want to loosen restrictions or make it more strict? This is something we’re debating. We want to give people accessibility and keep everyone safe.
We have a large number of bicyclists riding around town. Unfortunately, they also tend to ignore street signage. You’ll see a group cruise right past stop signs and drive the wrong way down one-way streets.
There is no exception to stopping at a stop sign. There is no group pass to adhering to traffic laws. Bicyclists want and should be treated respectfully by cars but they also need to obey the same laws and safety guidance as cars.
Please work with the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce to encourage them to cancel the Street Dance and Bick Street Market this year. Given the spiking of cases in Indiana and also Boone County, it’s not prudent to hold events that could be super-spreaders even if they take place outside.
We are evaluating how to move forward with events that are anchors for our business community and that bring foot traffic during a public health emergency. Having activities outdoors is a bridge to do things safely. I am sure the Chamber of Commerce will continue to monitor Governor Holcomb’s Back on Track stages. Town Council and I are in touch with the Boone County Commissioners, the Boone County Council and Zionsville Schools. We all want to make decisions that don’t negatively impact some other aspects of our community.
What is the status of the PNC demolition?
Originally it was scheduled for July. We have since learned that the lease for the locksmith on the parcel was coming to a term and we decided to remove both buildings. As a result, we extended the timeframe so the locksmith could safely, on their timeframe, exit the building. Right now we are going through inspections for both buildings. August is the new date for removing both buildings and we can then focus on what we will do with the property.
Has there been any action taken against the contractors working in the Irongate neighborhood or plans to not use them again for any future Zionsville town projects? Specifically, I am referring to the two gas leaks on back-to-back days plus a gas leak a few months ago.
It is the responsibility of the contractor or person doing the digging to call Indiana 811 and request underground utilities be marked at least two business days prior to beginning their work. It is the responsibility of Indiana 811 to process these requests and notify the utilities, then it is the utilities’ responsibility to make sure their underground facilities are correctly marked. We do not investigate these matters locally as that is the legal responsibility of the entities noted. Each time an underground utility is damaged, there is an investigation to determine financial responsibility and fault. There are significant fines and penalties to companies and/or individuals when these happen.
As a Zionsville taxpayer that pays for both the town employees and that big beautiful building that had to be built to house the town employees, is (or when) will the town hall be fully open and all employees back at the office?
Town Hall is closed to the public for the time being. I have no concerns with Town Hall being closed for safety reasons.
Can the Town Council propose and enact a resolution to support our police department and thank the police officers and their families for their dedication and professionalism and to show our community’s commitment to fully fund the Zionsville Police Department and all that they do to serve our very grateful community?
When we write a resolution, it’s typically an action-based resolution. We fully support ZPD and Chief Spears. We have a fully-funded police department, as well as the other Town agencies. Our last Council agreed with other communities to approve a Boone County Local Income Tax (LIT) to fund public safety in Boone County. We are able to have this because it passed.
Recap of the live session on June 23 featuring guest speaker Zionsville Police Department Chief Spears.
Under the previous administration, I received monthly access to the many Boards and Committees. Can I still access these?
Agendas and minutes are posted here: www.zionsville-in.gov/AgendaCenter. You can also sign up to receive email notifications for these. You can access recordings of board/commission/council meetings via the Town’s YouTube page.
Thank you for road closure barriers on Whitestown Road by ZUMC and the speed monitor at Cobblestone entrance. With the closure of 875, will anything more be done to prevent Cobblestone Lakes from being a detour?
More police will be patrolling the subdivision and monitoring the traffic flow.
Please ask the mayor to find for me the two plaques of the volunteer fire department members and the volunteer ambulance members.
The Zionsville Fire Department has them in storage in Town Hall.
Please give advice on how to deal with the increased number of people letting their dogs off-leash and running free in neighborhoods. Calling ZPD is not an option since most people are gone before they can arrive. Confronting dog owners can be risky.
The Town of Zionsville has a leash ordinance. Calling the police department even if the dog is gone before they arrive is important. It gives ZPD an idea of where to focus their attention. They can work with Boone County Animal Control to supplement our efforts to find and remove stray animals, especially dangerous ones. ZPD can take action to intervene if they know the owner of the animal.
Why is Holliday Road Closed? It has been closed at least since we moved here in August of 2019. Is it a public or private road?
This County road has been closed by the County due to the damage to the bridge. The road will not reopen. Ultimately, it will be relocated to the south and made internal to the Holliday Farms subdivision and the former roadbed of the closed road will be converted to a pedestrian pathway.
Is the Zionsville Town hall now fully staffed?
Town Hall has been fully staffed throughout the pandemic. While the Town Hall facility has had periods of closure, there have been employees here every day (the emergency management operations is located at Town Hall). Staff are coming into Town Hall during the week. We are limiting the number of staff here on any given day to allow for social distancing and to keep our workforce healthy. Your Town government has been working for you full-time since the beginning.
In the recent Current, Zionsville announces the hiring of HR Manager and CFO. Are these two positions new employees or replacing previous employees?
These are not net-new positions. The Town does add staff because the Town is growing. The budget is set at the beginning of the year and certified by the state. As needs change over time, there are discussions about moving money.
Why is it acceptable for us to continue relaxing our face-covering and social gathering restrictions while communities worldwide are observing resurgences of coronavirus cases following re-opening efforts?
Wearing a face mask will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. When outdoors, there is more discretion. From the Town’s perspective, we are encouraging people to wear a mask inside a building to protect those around you.
Special Guest Dr. Robison on masks in schools and schools update:
At the end of the day, we are relying on the County Board of Health to assist us with protocols. The three superintendents in Boone County have been working with Dr. Servies and his crew. I really see this as a social contract issue. For some unknown reason this has been politicized for people to say: Dr. Robison, you will not force my child to wear a mask. We have adult employees and if asymptomic children are spreading COVID-19, the adult employees could get it. The teacher with the face covering is really protecting the children. And at some point within our schools, I believe we will be asking folks to wear a mask to protect others. I know this will be controversial for some.
The details are being worked out to offer an online learning option. We never set out to be an online school, but as a result of COVID-19, things are changing. We found some students who are doing e-learning are really flourishing. We have learned some things that will change us in the future. Yes, it’s the same curriculum. There are many ways we can enhance and expand the curriculum through hybrid learning - those are things we should be thinking about for the future.
Starting July 1, we will be opening up our playgrounds, basketball courts and tennis courts.
Special Guest Dr. Robison on racial unrest and diversity initiatives on recruiting of minority staff:
One of the most refreshing things year in and out is student voice. Kids will tell you what their experiences are. As a Superintendent, I can’t be in every conversation when a racial comment is made - these are often not trackable. Part of what we do is raise folks, in conjunction with parents, to ensure they can succeed in a wider world. It is a constant effort to recruit minority staff and we have African American staff members who assist us. We are using LinkedIn videos to show the diversity of our community and the folks who are teaching and leading in our schools.
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?
This area is under the County highway jurisdiction. According to the Boone County Highway Department: "We are aware that this curve is a difficult one and as the resident stated, we added flashing signs a couple of years ago to bring more attention to the curve. Believe it or not, the 96th and Ford Road curve had much lower crash frequency than 96th and Moore. Since the Moore Road curve was reconstructed and the high friction surface treatment installed, the number of slide-offs has been negligible and all of our original curve signs are still in place. We have discussed the need for a similar project at 96th and Moore but have not been able to make any repairs due to budget shortfalls."
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.
We have expanded our rolls calls to the community - in neighborhoods, business and churches. We have had a great response.
How can we make our police force more diverse?
In our recruitment process, Detective Liz Frost is working with groups and organizations we may not have been involved with in the past. Sometimes when there are vacancies in police departments, we limit candidates to lateral candidates (those who have been through the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy and worked for other police departments). There are advantages to this - saving money, getting officers in more quickly - but this doesn’t offer opportunities to those who haven’t served as a police officer or been through the Academy. We are doing what we can to increase diversity and also ensure applicants meet our standards.
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.
Is there a timeline for the demolition of the PNC lot? Has any thought/discussion been had for what to do with the property? https://youtu.be/d6h136TpRiY?t=486
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? https://youtu.be/d6h136TpRiY?t=769
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. https://youtu.be/d6h136TpRiY?t=2039
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? https://youtu.be/d6h136TpRiY
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? https://youtu.be/d6h136TpRiY?t=2351
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.
Can you update us on why so many roads are torn up or patched? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=143
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? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=874
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? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1017
There are small business resources on the Town website: www.zionsville-in.gov/545/Small-Businesses.
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. https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1091
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. https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1553
We agree! This is something the Town is exploring.
When will it be possible for the Zionsville Golf Course to open? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1593
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? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1699
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? https://youtu.be/QNirlyRrwTs?t=1814
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.