Donna Steele column on revitalization plan

A desirable city bursting with quality of life shares much in common with a good soup.

Police and fire safety, medical access and good roads make a terrific stock. Schools add texture. The arts, libraries and parks add flavor and color. Good governance is as essential as salt.

Greenfield has most of the ingredients it needs to be a great small city.

Its recipe is copied by places like Carmel, Noblesville and Clay Terrace, according to the 2006 Greenfield Comprehensive Plan, because Greenfield has “a strong organizing city structure; a viable historic downtown core; traditional neighborhoods; and greens, commons and community facilities.”

The 2006 Greenfield Comprehensive Plan is designed to direct future growth and development.

“The Plan outlines the vision and concepts for the Greenfield Planning Area, through clearly expressed goals, objectives and policies that were directly articulated by the steering committee and public.”

The planning area includes the geographical direction the city will take for 30 years, from 2006: residential and retail development to the south; continued business and industrial development to the north; and continued residential development in the west.

The proposed fairgrounds to the east are shown as annexed into the city.

The 2006 plan specifically calls for an intergovernmental agreement with Hancock County to “review development plans that area) within 1 mile of the City of Greenfield’s jurisdictional boundaries, and b) within the City of Greenfield’s 15- or 30-year growth boundaries….”

Between 1990 and 2010, Greenfield grew by 76 percent and was ranked 45th in population out of 682 cities, towns and villages in the state.

This growth will likely continue, and Hancock County can allow for an identity shift, not crisis, by acknowledging the population trends, which show most of the county population lives in cities and towns, although most of the land is agriculturally zoned.

Another guide, the Greenfield Downtown Revitalization Plan, focuses on the historic district. One of its goals is to encourage employees in Greenfield to live in Greenfield by enhancing quality of life.

To do so, Greenfield needs to focus on primacy of place, a concept adopted by the Greenfield Coalition (full disclosure: I am a member of the Coalition).

The Greenfield Coalition, a volunteer organization led by Greenfield director of planning Joanie Fitzwater, is implementing the Downtown Revitalization Plan and, by extension, the 2006 comprehensive plan.

The coalition is enhancing Greenfield’s existing charm in the historic district by initiating revitalization. Doing so will attract local pedestrian traffic and day-trippers. Mixed-use design is called for, with inducements to live and create businesses downtown.

The Hancock County Tourism Commission, at its April 14 meeting, dedicated $11,150 to the first phase of a primacy of place project undertaken by the Greenfield Planning Department, and pending a match from the Place Based Investment Fund.

The State Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and the Office of Tourism Development support this fund. This project will create a pedestrian connector at the north/south running alley between Pennsylvania and State streets and will eventually connect North Street to South Street and on to the Pennsy Trail.

The Greenfield Common Council approved $50,000 for this same project April 22.

The tourism commission also allocated $15,000 towards the purchase and renovation of 119 W. North St. The acquisition of this empty building is well-suited for making North Street a gateway. It will make the Hancock County Visitor’s Bureau accessible, as this office will move to the new building from its current location upstairs at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts.

Four rain gardens are planned for Main Street, and two rain gardens for North Street. Biking and walking will be encouraged with trails and green connectors.

A literary trail will be created to promote the city’s rich cultural history. Music, art and food will be mixed into a big bowl and served regularly through festivals.

Fitness also will be a focus to encourage community well being.

And historic preservation is a main ingredient for success.

The Coalition hasn’t addressed rerouting semitrailer traffic through the city, but this is necessary for Greenfield to achieve its long-term goals.

It is essential a healthy dollop of communication, sprinkled with a shared vision between Greenfield and Hancock County governments, exists because we need to get where we are going together.

Let’s be encouraged that the commission finds the Downtown Revitalization Plan’s recipe for success palatable. And let’s encourage the county to use the 2006 Greenfield Comprehensive Plan as a reference as invaluable as grandma’s potato salad recipe.

Donna Steele, an Alabama native, moved to Hancock County in 2011. She lives in Greenfield.