Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fast Park Project - (Part 5 - More Than a Parking Facliity)

Finally I wind back to the proposed Fast Park & Relax project itself, and how it all ties in.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, this is not your typical parking lot that serves the flying public.  It is a very green project that leads the way for others to follow.

There will be canopies covering every parking space.  This alone protects the vehicles from snow in the winter and sun in the summer, providing a convenience for the owner.  From an environmental point of view, the canopies protect the land from the 'heat island effect', which raises ambient temperatures.  Nearly all lights will be suspended from the underside of these canopies, minimizing light spillage into the night sky and toward nearby homes.  Atop the canopies will be solar panels; the electricity generated will go to the operation.

Additionally, rainwater is recycled for use on the landscaping.  The master drainage for the area is already engineered and will accept the remaining water - as Indiana is graced with fairly dependable rainfall.  The landscaping will be 4 times the depth required by ordinance so as to make the facility as appealing as possible.

The shuttles run on alternative fuels and there will be electric charging stations in the future.

All of these things are good examples of how green a business can be when the owners value such things.  Perhaps the Airport, which is rightly proud of its LEED certification of the new terminal, could look these measures over to see which they might want to emulate in their parking lots.

This green approach is a good fit with the efforts Ameriplex has put forth over the years.

Also important is the fact that this project would be outside of the Airport/United TIF and would not seek tax abatements.  It is estimated that the project would generate about $450,000 per year in taxes.  That may not be much for downtown, but it certainly helps fill Decatur's bucket, which saw about $21 million in property tax collections from real property in 2011.  It helps soften the tax cap impact, as well, by slightly lowering the tax rates.

Not discussed here yet, but of great importance is how this project helps counteract some of the 'lack of rooftops' problem Decatur has.  By attracting vehicles to the site, they will import visitors to Decatur.  Already Ameriplex has seen interest in locating modest retail in the next block; gas station/convenience store and restaurants.  Again, anywhere else in the County, this would evoke considerable yawning.  But, here in Decatur it adds significantly to our amenities.  These amenities should help the Purdue Research Park attract more high tech startups - startups who are interested in what the area can offer their employees.  They also will help provide Decatur residents with more leisure options - options that are sorely lacking.

This is not the end of our transition from rural to suburban, but it will definitely help.  This facility is innovative in this market, and is an excellent fit with the strengths and challenges facing Decatur Township.  Our community was won over and we showed up to the MDC hearing as proof of that.  We are elated that so many Councillors stood with us and that the MDC approved the project.

To my readers, thanks for your indulgence as I laid all of these pieces of the puzzle out over these last few posts.  The stories of neighborhoods around the County are all unique, but we share themes.  Now you know better the prospective from which I view the issues we all face.

[ Yesterday's Zoning Case - It About Far More Than a ParkingFacility, The 800 Pound Gorilla,

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