Coalition working to develop downtown

GREENFIELD — A group dedicated to giving legs to the city’s downtown revitalization plan is exceeding organizers’ expectations.

The Greenfield Coalition has met twice a month since February to work toward putting in place the plan that would bring pedestrian-friendly promenades, enhanced building façades and new restaurants and retail to downtown Greenfield.

The city council approved the downtown revitalization plan in 2013. Local stakeholders then formed the Greenfield Coalition, which was asked to get the process started.

The coalition’s purpose is twofold: to put some legs to the revitalization plan and to help update the city’s comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan, which is required for many grant applications as well as some state funding, includes a broader perspective about the city’s future, including plans for growth and infrastructure improvements.

City planner Joanie Fitzwater said the coalition has spent the past few months prioritizing the revitalization plan’s action items. Group members have formed eight committees: historic preservation, downtown housing, entrepreneurship, education, local foods, fitness, arts and festivals.

With nearly 50 people involved, Fitzwater said she’s overjoyed with the group’s progress.

“It has been wildly more successful than I ever could have imagined,” she said. “It’s so fun.”

Currently, the group is finalizing an application for an Office of Community and Rural Affairs matching grant of up to $50,000. If the city receives the grant, it will use it to start creating the first leg of the new Riley Literary Trail through downtown.

City organizers want the trail to be similar to Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail but focus on Greenfield’s literary heritage. It would incorporate fitness, arts and education, they say.

The grant application is due May 1, and officials should know in June if it’s been approved.

Meetings have been facilitated by Sharon Canady, associate director of the economic and community development department at Ball State University.

She’s been invaluable in helping the group organize and create the synergy needed to make the revitalization plan a reality, Fitzwater said.

Soon, the group will turn its focus to adding the downtown revitalization plan to the city’s 2006 comprehensive plan. That will be an important step to ensure the city can qualify for grants and programs in the future, Fitzwater said.

That process will likely begin in June and wrap up at the end of the year.

Mayor Chuck Fewell, who helped organize the coalition, said he couldn’t be happier with its turnout. Working with people from across the community has helped bring new ideas and energy to the downtown plan, he said.

“I think it’s going really, really well,” he said. “I”m glad to see the interest has generated over 40 people who have taken their time and talent to join.”

Shelley Swift, program manager for Greenfield Main Street, said she’s excited to see a sense of teamwork.

“Everyone is coming together, and we have great ideas,” she said. “It’s going to do tremendous things for downtown.”

The group has at least two more meetings scheduled. One is set for Thursday, and another will be April 23. For more information, call Fitzwater at 317-477-4320.

How to get invovled

Greenfield Coalition is open to any member of the community looking to make a difference.

The group will meet from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday and April 23.

If you’re interested in attending or want to get involved, contact city planner Joanie Fitzwater. She can be reached at 477-4320.

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or