City Blog

Dec 23

[ARCHIVED] Planning for a Great City: Fishers 2040

The original item was published from January 1, 2016 to January 4, 2016 4:35 PM

Ellen Rosenthal, President and CEO Conner Prairie

More than 16 years ago, a new job at Conner Prairie drew my husband and me to Indiana. Faced with choosing a place to live, I shied away from Fishers not because of what it was but because I was afraid of what it might become.

The sprawling suburb where I grew up in New Jersey seemed like a foreshadower of the still young Fishers. I moved away in the 1970s but returned often enough to witness the result of unplanned growth in empty and decaying strip malls, abandoned fast food places, the absence of a town center and a true community identity.

I would make a different decision about Fishers were I making it today. Now a city, Mayor Fadness has already taken decisive action to create a true sense of community and a unique identity for Fishers. The planning process, Fishers 2040, will ensure that the city avoids the fate of my hometown.

Since moving from New Jersey, I have lived in six major cities in the United States and Europe. My husband and I raised three boys, now young adults, and for twelve years, I have led Conner Prairie. All these life experiences have shaped my ideas about community.

Great educational opportunities top my list of requirements for great cities. Progressive, successful schools are essential; I also include opportunities for children and adults to learn in fun ways outside the classroom.

When I was growing up, New York and Philadelphia were my family’s playgrounds. We visited all kinds of museums and attended the theater. These activities brought us together as a family and helped my brother and I discover our career passions. In the past decade, Conner Prairie has become a place for fun learning experiences in history, science, the arts and nature; a place that families enjoy together and where children can discover and explore topics that might become career passions.

My list of what makes a great city also includes proximity to work, opportunities to get outdoors, worship, play and watch sports, come together as a community and get to know my neighbors. As empty nesters, my husband and I also look for places to walk and bike with fun cafés along the way and a place that is attractive to our millennium children. They want to be in a place that is open to different kinds of people, where you can get around without cars, and offers brewpubs and other places to gather.

Mayor Fadness has already started down a path to make Fishers the best city in Indiana.  The Fishers 2040 planning process, which includes many community voices, is looking at the best attributes of other successful places, and what will make Fishers its own place, a smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city, not just today but for generations to come.