Crothersville’s Future Plan Is Very Comprehensive

A voluminous 69 page comprehensive plan was discussed at the Crothersville Town Council meeting on Dec. 2 giving the public its first view of the road map for Crothersville’s future.

A local group of volunteers began meeting earlier this year and with input from the public and organization by consultants Houseal Lavigne brought the plan to fruition. Brandon Nolin and Dan Gardner of the Chicago based firm made the presentation.

“This is a picture of the potential of what Crothersville can be,” said council president Ardell Mitchell. “Does it mean we must accomplish everything in the plan? No. But it does give us a start of what our priorities should be. And those priorities can, and probably will, change as the years progress.”

He stressed that this plan “is not about shoveling dirt and bricks and mortar but a plan to identify what is important to the community’s future.”

A re-occurring theme throughout the plan is establishment of local planning & zoning and to include property maintenance as a part of that plan.

In no specific order of priority, the report indicates that residential growth should not be discouraged in outlying areas but an ‘infill first’ policy be implemented that “encourages re-investment in existing property, vacant land to help stabilize existing neighborhoods and concentrate building activity within central Crothersville.”

Among the suggested residential policies include promoting preventive maintenance, reinvestment and instilling pride in ownership. “Adoption and enforcement of a zoning ordinance and maintenance code will help reverse decline and ensure homes remain in good repair,” the plan indicates.

The plan also looks to surface water and flood management to encourage residential growth.

The business area of town also received some policy suggestions:

•Continue to provide an interconnected network of sidewalks and cross walks from residential areas to areas of shopping.

•Work with business property owners to establish a façade and site improvement program to make the business district more attractive to shoppers and visitors. “These efforts would help to sustain occupancy and market competitiveness while improving the appearance of the area.”

•Work with the state and county to establish gateway signage and landscaping into town and the town’s industrial park.

•Maintain roadways that provide access to the industrial park. A much needed extension of a roadway to provide a second access point to the industrial park was high on the list.

•Improving the downtown landscaping and attractiveness with eliminating parking on one side of Armstrong Street (US 31), widening the travel lanes and installing trees and/or decorative street lights along the town’s main thoroughfare.

Roadways, sidewalks and access were also matters addressed by the plan.

•Several secondary streets were put on a priority list for attention to re-surfacing.

•A re-alignment of the jog on Main Street at Kattmann Avenue was suggested to improve traffic flow.

•An extension of Myres Street to the Countryside Park was named as a priority to aid park users in gaining pedestrian and bicycle access directly to the park rather than through a lengthy county road travel.

•Installation of sidewalks in residential areas where there are none to provide for complete connectivity for pedestrian traffic.

Surface water drainage in Crothersville must be addressed as it is a chronic, long-standing problem. The comprehensive plan suggests the town work with the county and Indiana Department of Natural Resources to clear Hominy Ditch and Blau Ditch, both in and outside of the town limits, of trees and brush impeding the flow of surface water in heavy rain events.

Hominy Ditch is a main drain in town from Preston Street past County Road 1000 E. Blau Ditch is the main drainageway north of town. Both flow east to west eventually flowing into the Muscatatuck River west of town.

The plan also suggests that a walking trail be constructed along Hominy ditch to allow for walks from Preston Street to Bethany Road.

Wastewater treatment is also addressed in the plan. Aging sections of the town’s sewer system are long overdue for replacement and are subject to expensive maintenance by the utility. The plan suggests the town council obtain a mapping of wastewater lines and their ages and begin prioritizing projects for their replacement.

Additionally, the town does not provide sewer to residents out of town. To compete for business, the plan suggests the town evaluate the feasibility of extending a sewer line south along US 31 to the I-65 interchange and also consider the more costly extension of sewer from Crothersville to Uniontown.

The plan suggests the town implement a sanitary sewer ordinance outlining what is acceptable to place in the wastewater stream for treatment. As a part of the ordinance the plan the town should consider surcharges for any industrial users of the wastewater system.

Of course paying for the storm water suggestions is always a problem for a municipality. The comprehensive plans suggests creating a Stormwater Utility (much like the water utility and sewer utility) to perform inspections, maintenance and repairs to facilitate storm water drainage. The Stormwater Utility would have the ability to establish fees for Crothersville property owners through a special assessment district to generate revenue.

To implement suggestions in the comprehensive plan, eight steps should be taken, according to the plan:

•Create a Town Manager position to implement the Comprehensive Plan and oversee and administer the day-to-day operations of Crothersville. This was listed as a priority to begin implementing the suggestions and priorities of the Comprehensive Plan

•Create a Zoning Ordinance and other development controls to reflect policies presented in the Comprehensive Plan.

•Use and update the Comprehensive Plan on a regular basis to guide town policies and decision making.

•Develop and utilize Capital Improvement Program to plan for recommended improvements.

•Prepare a 5-year action plan to prioritize objectives and list accomplishments of preceding years on an annual basis.

•Promote cooperation and participation among various agencies, organizations, community groups and individuals.

•Brand and market Crothersville by developing a logo and website to promote a town that is know for its “hometown hospitality”.

•Explore possible funding sources and implementation technique.

The town council is to meet tonight (Wednesday), Dec. 11 to consider adopting the comprehensive plan. The meeting is open to the public.

To view the entire Crothersville Comprehensive Plan log onto to www.hlplanning.com/crothersville.