Tag Archives: Indiana

“Ain’t that America” – one Indiana town that has avoided sprawl

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Those immortal song lyrics come from Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee and fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp’s classic rock tune entitled “Pink Houses.” On my return trip to Michigan from Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, I decided to follow the road less traveled and was fortunate enough to visit one very proud small town for an hour or so and take in some of the local history and culture.

Most small towns cannot claim a legendary icon as their native son or daughter. Charming Fairmount, Indiana, set amid a patchwork quilt of rural farms and with an population of approximately 3,000, has been the home to two of them, James Dean and Jim Davis.

Source: rottentomatoes.com

James Dean had one of those magnetic personalities that has kept him recognizable and in the public spotlight even 57 years after his tragic death at the age of 24.  He was born, raised, attended high school, and was later buried in Fairmount.  James Dean was the epitome of “cool”  and the local tourism and economic development agencies have successfully used the theme of “cool” to promote Fairmount and surrounding Grant County as the birthplace of cool.


Jim Davis, the creator and cartoonist of the Garfield comic strip was raised in Fairmount as well. The local history museum highlights both men’s hometown years, as well as their fame.
Source: thegarfieldshow-diary.com

A separate museum/gallery is dedicated specifically to James Dean and there is a tour guide/map of the famous sights related to his life and death. 

But Fairmount is so much more that its two famous sons. It is one of the best remaining examples I have found of a “traditional small town” in the Midwest.  Proud citizens, tidy homes and farms, a compact and reasonably healthy main street business district, and a sense of long-term strength and stability, even in these difficult economic times, combine to make Fairmount quite special. The fact that it has not been overrun by rampant sprawl is also endearing.

Fairmount Main Street – Source: flickr.com

While not totally bypassed by the Interstate Highway system, Fairmount is situated five miles west of I-69, exit 54 between Indianapolis and Marion. As it turns out, the town’s distance from the expressway has been a blessing in disguise for Fairmount. You don’t find a monotonous  string of highway commercial establishments along State Route 26 leading either direction out of town, like you can in so many nameless places that are in close proximity to an exit. Instead, in Fairmount you find a closely-knit community that has virtually seen no commercial sprawl. This  makes Fairmount, Indiana refreshingly unique from a rural and small town planning perspective and very, very special. Other small towns that want to preserve their identity and integrity should consider looking to Fairmount for guidance. Whether is was sheer luck or perseverance does not matter, the fact is  Fairmount stands out from the crowd. Hopefully, the residents realize their good fortune and strive to maintain the town’s charm and innocence. It would be a terribly sad thing to lose in our throw-away society.

Next time you are wandering through Indiana or other states of the American Midwest, consider taking the road less traveled. You may just stumble across a “cool” small town like Fairmount, Indiana of your very own.

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Filed under Economic Development, Featured, Real Estate, sprawl, Urban Planning

Carmel, Indiana — Demonstrating the Power of Placemaking

This post was originally shatavari published on panethos.wordpress.com.

Kudos to Carmel. No…I am not talking about Carmel, California, which is indeed a gorgeous town overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In this case I am complimenting Carmel, Indiana, a large suburb of approximately 80,000 residents located just north of Indianapolis. When I was growing up in Indy (way back when), Carmel was largely nondescript, with sprawling subdivisions across tulasi cornfields. It was best known for powerhouse football and basketball teams and the Carmel movie theater (sadly no longer there). The pharmacy7days-online downtown area at the time was very small and other than the theater was largely underutilized.

Today, aside from high school sports, Carmel is also a clear trendsetter in place making. The current header for Panethos was taken at one of many roundabouts in the city with a lovely fountain in the center and mixed use developments bordering on two sides. Carmel has the distinction of having more roundabouts than any other city in the United States (60+), including several impressive ones built over State Route 431 brahmi site (Keystone Parkway) in order to make it a limited access parkway.

Keystone Parkway roundabout - Source: http://www.carmel.in.gov


Artwork and sculptures line the downtown streets, while a magnificent performing arts center (The Palladium) recently opened at the south end of downtown. All these items are linked by an impressive and growing network of paved trails/greenways for bicyclists, pedestrians, joggers, and other trail users. Among them are the Monon Greenway and White River Greenway.

Carmel may not be perfect in the eyes of all urban planners, but the city has made huge strides to create an urban center, add placemaking features, increase density, and improve walkability and bikeability. I was pleasantly surprised and quite impressed during a tour of the city haridra online on Christmas Eve.

Source: naptownobserver.blogspot.com

My own preference would be for the city to focus its http://pharmacy-7days-canadian.com/avelox-cost.html density and placemaking efforts in the downtown area and surrounding vicinity before trying to create new areas of density via new urbanism projects like West Clay on greenfield sites. Got to Visit this site admit the art-deco CVS store in the adjacent photograph is cool from an architectural standpoint, but seems quite out-of-place where it is located nearly surrounded by undeveloped greenfields. In addition, transit options need to be enhanced and expanded to further reduce automobile dependency and to give the disadvantaged more access.

Below are a few photos taken of the reinvigorated heart of Carmel, Indiana from just last Saturday. No longer just sprawling subdivisions and bland shopping centers, pharmacy there is indeed a place there. Kudos to the City of Carmel and its residents and best wishes on their continued success.

Gateway to Carmel's art and design district


Palladium Performing Arts Center


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Filed under architecture, Art, Economic Development, Great Lakes, Real Estate, the environment, Urban Planning

Lessons on City Design

Rust Wire has previously highlighted Donald Carter, the David Lewis Director of the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. (Take a look at our prior post on Carter’s efforts to trade the term “Rust Belt” for “Water Belt” and change “Sun Belt” into “Drought Belt.”)

Here’s a piece by Carter from Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discussing The Mayors’ Institute on City Design, which took place last month with mayors from Springfield, Illinois; Elkhart, Indiana; Canton, Ohio; Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia; Kenosha and Racine, Wisconsin.

See if you agree with his 10 “lessons” from the meeting (#1- There is hope!). It’s also interesting to read about the projects highlighted from these cities.


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Filed under architecture, Art, Economic Development, Good Ideas, Public Transportation, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, Urban Planning

Rust Belt Cities: Pursuing Casinos Like Captain Ahab?


Take a look at this column from the Gary Post-Tribune.

This Indiana city has had casinos since the 1990s, and yet they haven’t really brought the economic development that was promised, this writer believes.

“The Gary casinos haven’t been a complete flop. They have provided jobs and tax revenue of up to $25 million a year to the city,” he writes. “But, the economic development hasn’t followed.”

And keep in mind…Gary is just a short drive from the metropolis of Chicago. And one of those casinos had the Trump name on it, according to the story.

Yet the city continues to think a casino could be its salvation, like Captain Ahab pursuing the whale, as the author puts it.

Leaders in the Ohio cities that just landed casino agreements would do well to take note of what has – and hasn’t worked – in Gary.



Filed under Economic Development, Editorial, Good Ideas, Headline, The Media

Indiana Gov.: Gary Should Merge with Other City

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has recommended the city of Gary merge with another political entity to ward off financial shortcomings.

The recommendation comes as a new state law will lower the allowable tax rates in the state, threatening the impoverished city’s revenues.


Which begs the question, what city, county or other political entity is going to voluntarily merge with Gary, Indiana?

When are midwestern states going to stop treating their cities as enemies?

This isn’t leadership, this is negligence.



Filed under Featured, Politics, regionalism, U.S. Auto Industry

Ohio’s Lake Erie Shoreline Ranks Low in Water Quality

lake_erie_tocOhio’s water quality along Lake Erie received a failing grade in an annual report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Lake Erie beaches in the Buckeye State exceeded health standards only 19% of the time, just behind Indiana’s 18%, according to the report. Louisana came in a distant third with 29%.

The most common bacteria found floating in Ohio’s waters is E. Coli, according to the report.

Regional sewer district officials in Cleveland joined the NRDC and the Ohio Environmental Council and Environment Ohio at a news conference to announce the annual report yesterday at Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie.


All this is from the Plain Dealer:

While the report blames storm water runoff as the most likely source of bacteria at Ohio beaches, regional sewer district officials pointed to another possible culprit — wildlife, especially geese, along the shoreline.

The District has voluntarily monitored local beaches for the last 16 years and is working with USGS officials to determine if geese droppings are affecting water quality at two of the worst beaches — Villa Angela and Euclid Beach,

Swimmers at two Northeast Ohio beaches – Huntington and Edgewater – can get water quality forecasts online daily at 9:30 a.m. or by calling 216-432-7301.

Swimmers at other beaches can also go online for reports on bacteria levels — but they are from the day prior.

Clearly, the $475 million designated for cleaning the Great Lakes by the Obama Administration is needed.

I’m also hopeful that the state of Ohio EPA’s mandate that Ohio communities separate their storm and sanitary sewers will have a positive impact on lake ecology.


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Gary, Ind. Celebrates Jackson


If you aren’t on Jackson media overload, take a look at this story examining Jackson’s legacy in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.

Gary was founded as company town for U.S. Steel.

Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson, was a steelworker here.

The share of people living below the poverty line in Gary, a city of about 97,700, grew to 33.2 percent in 2007 from 25.8 percent in 2000, according to Census statistics cited in the story.

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