County officials and leader gathered at the Johnson County Museum of History to update business leaders on their respective community’s progress Thursday at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin. Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal
County officials and leader gathered at the Johnson County Museum of History to update business leaders on their respective community’s progress Thursday at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin. Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal
Leaders from various governments across Johnson County talked about state grants, housing, infrastructure and more at a county chamber event Thursday.

Greenwood Planning Director Gabe Nelson, Whiteland’s Director of Administration Carmen Young, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett, Johnson County Commissioner Kevin Walls, Bargersville Town Manager Dan Cartwright and Edinburgh Community Development Director SaraBeth Drybread sat together on a panel to answer questions generally about the state of each of their governments. New Whiteland Clerk-Treasurer Angela DeVoss was also set to attend, but was unable to at the last minute.

This event was the fourth annual Municipal Matters Luncheon hosted by Aspire Johnson County at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin.

Leaders from each municipality and Johnson County government told business leaders in the room about different projects they have in the works and took questions about housing and infrastructure.

READI grants

Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative grant program, which has given out millions in funds to regions across the state, was one of the first topics discussed. Leaders were asked about how READI 1.0 and READI 2.0 has and will impact their communities.

In Franklin, the city received $650,000 in READI funding for the under-construction Graham Road bypass. They also received $250,000 for the Earlywood Drive and Graham Road roundabout — both projects are expected to be completed this summer, said Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett.

For READI 2.0, the city has applied for a $1 million grant to be put toward the $4.74 million Active Adult Center project. Officials have also applied for a $500,000 grant to help with infrastructure for Franklin College’s innovation park, Barnett said.

The city is also working on upgrading its sewer plant — a $40 million project, he said.

Whiteland received about $326,000 during READI 1.0 for a sewer lift station project near Interstate 65. The project has been a little delayed, but the town approved a contractor on Tuesday, said Carmen Young, the town’s director of administration.

Greenwood officials are looking at READI to develop one of the last parcels in The Madison development, directly outside the Fieldhouse. They’re looking at plaza improvements and exploring ideas such as a boutique hotel, said Gabe Nelson, planning director.

“That being said, we are going to let the [request for proposals] guide a lot of that development, but that’s one thing kind of right in the heart of our downtown that I’m very excited for,” Nelson said.

Edinburgh was the first community to have a READI grant-funded project completed: an expansion of Main Street that goes into Bartholomew County. As for READI 2.0, town officials are thinking outside the box, going into the Lilly Endowment portion for arts and culture, said SaraBeth Drybread, the town’s community development director.

“We are trying to acquire the downtown Pixy Theatre and have that managed by our parks and recreation, and turn that into the kind of model Franklin Heritage has done for their community here,” Drybread said.

Bargersville has used READI 1.0 funding for a sewer lift station near the Interstate 69 interchange, which is still under construction. Some of the funds were also used to get the Umbarger Plaza project started, said Dan Cartwright, town manager.

For READI 2.0, town officials are focusing on bringing a mixed-use development to the old flea market site, Cartwright said.


Roads and other infrastructure came up frequently during the discussion.

County Commissioner Kevin Walls was asked about how I-69 will impact the county. The last time a new interstate came to the county was in the late 1960s to early 1970s, meaning officials have the opportunity to do “something special” with the quadrant of the county I-69 passes through, he said.

There has been a lot of talk in executive sessions about what could be done, and officials want to set it up right for the future, he said.

“It’s a 20- to 40-year decision we’re making now, so we’re really critiquing what’s coming to us and want to put the right things in place so we can succeed and continue to grow up in White River Township,” Walls said.

Bargersville and the county are working together on planning for I-69 impacts, Walls said. Cartwright echoed Walls’ comments about being careful, saying that, in the case of Bargersville, they want to slow down conversations with developers to plan the corridor strategically.

The town does have one planned unit development they’re working with a developer on in the southeast area of the intersection, but their biggest concern now, post sewer station, is County Road 144. The road will not be able to handle the anticipated traffic volume in the future, so the town and the county applied for a federal grant to improve it, Cartwright said.

While I-69 doesn’t go through Greenwood city limits, city officials are watching it closely. Right now they are working on a thoroughfare plan to manage traffic flow and connectivity through the city, including establishing frontage roads and other items that could offload traffic from interstate areas, Nelson said.

This plan is part of the city’s ongoing comprehensive plan update. A part of that plan is establishing commercial areas east of I-65, he said.

For Franklin, one of the major upcoming road projects is a state project: the redesign of U.S. 31. This project will improve traffic flow, make it safer and improve drainage for the city, Barnett said.

On the county level, some of the more prominent projects don’t involve roads.

A joint health department and coroner’s office building is under construction in Franklin and will be completed this year. A new community corrections and probation department building is planned near the sheriff’s office, which will open up some real estate in downtown Franklin, Walls said. The probation office currently at the corner of Jefferson and Water streets.

“We’ll work with the mayor on that; some retail and maybe some parking,” Walls said. “Parking is always a premium in downtown Franklin on an event night, so we’re talking about maybe a parking garage with some retail underneath it.”

These projects will take time and don’t happen overnight, he said.

Other projects included making the courthouse more ADA-compliant and fixing the courthouse fountain. Work is also ongoing for a virtual reality training center at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Walls said.


Communities across the county have housing projects under construction or development.

In Edinburgh, homes are actively being built at Timbergate Golf Course, with officials expecting about 180 homes to be built there over the next five years, Drybread said.

The town is also looking at, and actively annexing, property north of town along U.S. 31. A couple of developers are looking at commercial and residential projects, including upwards of 700 to 800 homes being built over the next decade or so, she said.

“We’re going to see massive changes in Edinburgh that could almost double our population over the next decade,” Drybread said. “So that’s going to create some growing pains and things we’re already experiencing — and probably a little bit of an identity crisis. But I am excited about the commercial development that we’ll see on part of U.S. 31; I think there’s a lot of possibilities there.”

Greenwood has had an “explosion” of housing lately, Nelson said. This summer they are looking at having 450 homes constructed in the city, along with Oliver Springs Apartments and another 200 units at The Madison, he said.

Even with the amount of housing in the pipeline, Nelson said the city is still projected to have a shortage.

“It’s definitely going to be a collaborative effort from our whole county are hoping to help [bridge[ this housing gap, and this housing need,” he said.

Several of these projects also include commercial aspects, he said.

Whiteland has had two subdivisions under construction for a few years. Briar Creek is expanding after selling out of its initial stock of lots, and Saddlebrook Farms is about 75% filled out, Young said.

Two small apartment complexes will be coming as part of the Patch development, too. Down the road, Redwood Apartments is looking at a parcel of land on U.S. 31 but hasn’t made their next step, she said.

As for Franklin, there are about 600 single-family lots being worked on in five different subdivisions. For Franklin College’s proposed innovation park, there is also a housing component that would bring additional single-family and multi-family housing, Barnett said.

Although New Whiteland Clerk-Treasurer Angela DeVoss was unable to attend, moderator Kevin Hoover read remarks on her behalf. Vita New Whiteland, a senior housing project on U.S. 31, is nearing completion. Additionally, there will be a new housing development on the west side of County Road 75 West, Hoover said.
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