Edinburgh residents put vibrant downtown, nightlife, gym on wish list for town

A board shows proposed future land use for Edinburgh at the comprehensive plan open house held Wednesday at town hall.

Jayden Kennett | Daily Journal

EDINBURGH — Around 10 people attended the first in a series of public meetings dedicated to developing a new comprehensive plan for the future of Edinburgh.

Those attending were able to ask questions, give feedback and share insights and vision for the future of the town.

The comprehensive plan is a group of documents that will guide development and growth in the town for the next 10 to 20 years. Edinburgh’s current plan hasn’t been updated in 13 years, said Kevin McGinnis, town manager.

McGinnis said he was surprised and encouraged by the amount of feedback that has been received so far.

So far, the town has received 366 responses. That number is greater than the number of people who voted for some town offices in the last election, said SaraBeth Drybread, community development director.

Residents were asked to answer various questions on sticky notes including what they were proud of, what is missing, and what they dream of seeing for the town.

Many residents said the town is missing downtown development, including attractions for all ages and businesses. Some residents said they would like to see more nightlife and a gym/ fitness center.

Residents said they are most proud of the care and concern of other residents, the friendliness of people and the small town feel that Edinburgh has.

Many agreed that their dreams for Edinburgh are to have a busy, vibrant downtown with events and programs.

Town officials have hired HWC Engineering, an Indianapolis consulting firm, to gather community input and prepare for growth. Rachel Christenson, project manager, said it is important for residents to be involved.

“You guys are your local experts, and you guys know you’re way better than I will ever know your community,” Christenson said during a small overview of the process. “So hearing what you guys need and want for your future is really important to us as planners.”

Developing a comprehensive plan usually works in a four-phase process — a kickoff where steering committees get together to guide the rest of the process, a public participation phase, drafting the plan and finally another opportunity for the public to comment before it is submitted, Christenson said.

“It’s the blueprint for their community for the next five to 10 years or so, and we need their input,” Christenson said.

The energy in the steering committees has been exciting for Drybread, she said. A lot of people in Edinburgh care about the town, but are busy and often can’t make it to public hearings and meetings. Seeing the public give their input “speaks volumes to this community really caring about what happens,” she said.

“It’s been great to get some validation of priorities that we’ve been talking about for a while and to hear that other community members feel the same way and want to see those things become priorities in the community as well,” Drybread said.

Resident Chrissy Riley loves her “little town” and wants to see growth. She loves the people and plans to live in town “forever” she said. Riley doesn’t want to see Edinburgh “swallowed up between the two big towns or cities” between them, she said.

“I want us to have our own voice and our own vision and be heard and seen and visited,” Riley said. “Our small town is amazing and the people here are the best in the world, in my opinion. But we get forgotten a lot and so we have to be a little louder and let the world know we’re here.”

The comprehensive plan update is funded with a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs as well as a contribution of $5,600 from the Town of Edinburgh.

Future meetings include a “Big Ideas” open house on May 15 from 6 to 7 p.m., a public presentation of the plan and a video showcase on July 16 from 6 to 7 p.m., a Plan Commission adoption presentation and public hearing on Aug. 20 and an Edinburgh Town Council adoption presentation on Sept. 9.

All meetings will be held at Edinburgh Town Hall and are open to the public.

In addition to the workshops, residents can still participate in the comprehensive plan survey. The questionnaire is open until March 31 and covers various aspects of community life from satisfaction with municipal services to input on housing, infrastructure and amenities.

Residents are encouraged to participate through an online version of the survey found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XVKHP7B. A paper copy of the survey can also be picked up from the John R. Drybread Community Center, 100 E. Main Cross St. All responses are anonymous and confidential to ensure honest feedback

Current residents, business owners, former residents and anyone interested in the future of Edinburgh are encouraged to participate in the survey and attend upcoming public meetings to contribute to shaping the town’s future.