On Saturday, I joined several others who were taken on an exploratory walk around Lafayette Square and Eagledale Neighborhood. The path we took was clockwise as follows:
Like last year’s walk around Garfield Park, this neighborhood is full of challenges and opportunities. Unlike Garfield Park, Lafayette Square and Eagledale are suburban in form, although it still held several surprises.
First, we had to say goodbye to Big Car’s original Service Center. They’ve been asked to leave their space by the end of the month, which will once again be used to service vehicles. They’ve been great tenants, and will be a asset for any place that they move:
Soon after visiting Little Eagle Creek, we crossed the most treacherous intersection of the walk. Walking east along a desire path on 38th Street, the street us laid out in such a fashion that it is actually safer to cross closer to the interstate highway. No crosswalks are to be found anywhere here:
On the other side, we found a fantastic candidate for a new Service Center, towards the upper right of the aerial. They would replace some of the parking over on the bottom left side of the aerial with raised garden beds, but the leasing agent is actually concerned about losing too much parking. Insanity:
The potential space for the new Service Center is a unique gem in older suburbia, as it features an interior public courtyard:
Another interesting theme that our tour guides hit upon several times is the access to waterways that ribbon through the area:
We crossed Lafayette Road and came across this interesting old entry sign in Eagledale neighborhood:
Heading west along 34th, the sidewalk ends on the south side of the street, and starts on the north side. This stuff always baffles me, especially when there is no crosswalk:
Within the Eagledale neighborhood, there were some decent sidewalks, and then we crossed 38th Street at Georgetown Road. Then we walked east along the 38th Street sidewalk that is unfortunately adjacent to the busy street, in spite of its recent remodel. Then, back to the Service Center for our final goodbyes.
Lafayette Square is a big challenge for Indianapolis. It has to contain some of the largest parcels of mostly vacant retail and parking in the city. But it also has some assets to build upon, most notably the immigrant community that has set up shop in the area. Being the place in Indy where people around the world can build their own niche is great, and it should only get better over time while we learn to promote and grow that asset.
Of course, I would like to see more attention paid to the streetscape by the city, as the last effort ended up being less than satisfactory for active transportation advocates. Lack of crosswalks, poor or no sidewalks, dangerous bus stops, and conflicts with cyclists are all common to the neighborhood. There is large room for improvement there.
I thank Big Car for helping to build that community and give it a sense of place. It will be interesting to see what the organization will have in store for its new home. Also, much thanks to Tom Streit and Molly Trueblood for leading us on the walk. It is an area I’d never considered walking in before, and it is much easier to notice details on two feet as opposed to four wheels.
Finally, if you would like to attend a Jane’s Walk this year, there is another one scheduled this Wednesday evening in Garfield Park neighborhood. I hope that it is well attended, because these walks are great opportunities to discuss communities with other interested and engaged individuals.