Just a few years ago residents were highlighting a laundry list of issues in the area through a quality of life planning initiative. Issues of concern were drug trafficking, sex trade, stray animals and property crime.
Residents have worked hard to gain a median income of $30,480 as only 15.9 percent of them having an associate degree or higher. While many longtime residents saw the need for change, skepticism ran rampant of talk and no action by leaders.
The waterway caught the attention of Reconnecting to Our Waterways, a local impact organization that aligned its network and resources with what residents highlighted in the quality of life plan: seeing potential in the Barth Avenue Bridge site because of its existing assets; green space around the trail, proximity to the Cultural Trail and the centrifugal infrastructure of a crumbling, dilapidated car bridge.
Connectivity is one of the guiding principles of ROW’s mission, with the vision to connect the neighborhoods surrounding our waterways to art, nature and beauty through bike trails or a 10-minute walk.
In an area where 1 in 10 households are carless and many others want access to alternative transportation, the improved connectivity in Bates-Hendricks is invaluable, according to ROW. Children from the nearby schools walk across the bridge to school, and residents use the trail and bridge to access Fountain Square, grocery stores, food pantries and more.
ROW, which will host a neighborhood meeting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, July 25, at Southeast Community Youth Services Center, 924 Shelby St., is focused on reclaiming the benefits of Indianapolis’ waterways and surrounding communities so everyone has access to art, nature and beauty every day.