Opinion mixed on next phase of Fishers downtown development

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FISHERS – Tuesday night residents in Fishers got their chance to ask questions about the next phase of downtown development there.

The town will kick in $9.5 million and give a developer permission to demolish the train station and put in a parking garage, apartments, and office space.

But not everyone is buying in to the plan. Some residents feel with all the added development Fishers will lose its small-town charm. They also worry the money is too much to pay and the deal wasn’t handled fairly.

Others who work in downtown Fishers businesses are happy to see the change.

“We all think it’s going to be good,” said Anne Henn at Gallery 116 downtown.

Henn is in favor of the added development aimed to modernize Fishers. After all, one part is already going on right outside Gallery 116’s door and is sure to bring in customers.

“I think it’s a great idea, the more the merrier. The more people here in town walking up the street, the more that will come in the store,” she said.

Not all Fishers residents are on board with the new direction.

“Some people move to Fishers because they like the small-town community feel,” said Molly Kraus, a Fishers resident.

Kraus came to the public meeting Tuesday because she said she’s worried about the financial cost to the town and the way the deal went down.

“I’m more concerned about the taxes that are going to be levied on our people,” said Kraus.

Town council member Renee Cox voted against the train station project. She said it wasn’t bid out, so there may have been a better plan out there.

“The transparency was an issue as far as the process goes. We start talking about public land, land that belongs to the taxpayer, there was not a transparent bidding process that we could have done better and given the residents better,” said Cox.

Town officials contend they are getting what they want, an area where small businesses will hopefully thrive. Tom Dickey, director of community development, said the firm chosen for the train station project had a strategy that fit what the town was looking for.

“We’ve done our homework. We know this deal stands up in the market,” said Dickey, “If we were to stay the great bedroom community that we are, it comes back to sustainability. It is this town’s council and leadership’s belief that is not a sustainable model moving forward.”

Dickey said bringing in new tax revenue at a higher rate is important because of current property tax caps.

Preliminary estimates have construction on the train station remodel and pedestrian plaza starting this spring, with an expected completion date sometime in the fall of 2015.

Train service will still be a part of the redeveloped station.

The overall budget for the station project and pedestrian plaza is $28.5 million. The city of Fishers will pay $9.5 million.