While there’s plenty of cool things happening inside the walls at the innovative Hub & Spoke Design Center, see for yourself at HubandSpoke.works, what will soon occur outside the walls proposes to be equally impressive.

We’re talking about The Nickel Plate Trail just a few strides adjacent to Hub & Spoke’s front door. And if you’ve never heard of it, we’re about to expand your world. Which is precisely the point of the Trail, and Hub and Spoke.

What is The Nickel Plate Trail?

The quick take is this: The 4.5-mile trail will provide Fishers residents and visitors an attraction like no other in Central Indiana. The trail’s master plan includes opportunities to discover the city, incorporate art and history, and provide fitness and wellness opportunities for all ages. It will create community gathering spaces, highlight technology and inspired innovation, improve pedestrian circulation networks to downtown, and attract entrepreneurs and future development.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness calls the trail development a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city to create a world-class public amenity. “It is about building a vibrant city and a place that will attract a talented workforce and encourage young families and businesses alike to choose Fishers as home,” he says.

The plan initially extends from 96th to 146th streets with goals to connect Noblesville to the Fairgrounds. And in its 21-year vision, the master plan includes residential, multifamily housing, industrial, and commercial use.

There are too many amenities to list in full, but we’ll hint at a few

nickel plate trail• The trail will likely see many different types of mobility for various purposes. Many people may walk to nearby destinations, while others may choose to use the trail as a running or biking circuit. Some may utilize the trail as a path to work via scooter.

• While some of the areas along the trail are activated, almost 80 percent of the trail remains a simple pathway that maintains existing natural buffer plantings.

• Included in the Draft Master Plan are a learning pavilion structure, treetop learning tree houses, and art walls.

• Functioning in conjunction with schools around Fishers, an education center on the trail will provide students learning opportunities about nature, wildlife, storm-water management, and native plant species. You might also like to know that more than 200 students of varying ages from area schools worked on projects and shared their ideas for the trail. Almost every idea found its way into the plan in some form.

Additional points of interest include:

• Given the proximity to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport, the 96th Street gateway has a unique opportunity to be a functional crossing, but also a viewing area for people to watch planes come and go. The space is designed to be more than a bridge; it can be a new attraction and destination within Fishers.

• Where the trail intersects with familiar Fishers east-west cross streets, there is an opportunity to create “placemaking moments” and trailheads along the corridor that bridge the gap between the trail gateways.

• Small “trail nodes” comprised of various and simple design interventions – like a small shelter, a seating area, an information kiosk, or a bike repair station – help to create continued activity along the trail and moments for community building where neighbors can convene and catch up.

nickel plate trail• The plan is envisioning refurbished shipping containers used as “gateways” from one section to another. And bridges. A prairie. An arts park.

• The plan is stocked full of terms such as: gatherings, after-dinner strolls, lunches, and happy hours, games, innovation coves, sculptures, and rotating art installations – all activities that attract people and the entrepreneurial workforce to the city. There are plans for “over-water hammocking.” A proposed “beach” in the blueprints will provide an outdoor work environment for hackathons or focus space with a connection to nature. There’s seating created from refurbished (there’s that word again) train rails. Even a “kindness rock.” All terms we at Hub & Spoke like a lot.

• A view looking southwest toward the cultural commons displays a wooden stage for outdoor performances with seating for relaxation and spill-out from the nearby library and businesses.

• Oh, wait! We almost forgot to mention there’s plans for a YMCA campus looking southwest that incorporates playgrounds, outdoor fitness classes, a teen hangout center, and an obstacle course.

Of course, you’ll have to visit the trail to see all the other amenities that didn’t make the list.

A brief history of the project

In the fall of 2018, the Nickel Plate Trail Master Planning Committee, comprised of Fishers residents and community leaders, engaged the community to hear what you would like to see, utilizing the abandoned Nickel Plate Railroad. The committee encouraged people to be bold, be original and be heard. The city received over 1,500 individual ideas through in-person meetings, pop-up open houses, think tanks, and online surveys. Ideas poured in from everyone – students, teachers, neighborhood groups, business leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, and fitness enthusiasts.

In February of 2019, the committee unveiled a Draft Master Plan that brought these ideas together and again Fishers residents were invited to view the plan online and provide further input. While the trail is planned to be built in the next few years, this long-range master plan provides a framework for design and experience that can be implemented over time.

How the Nickel Plate Trail got its name

Lastly (because we know you’re now invested in the project), we think you might as well see how the trail got its name, right? Well, in the late 1800s the Nickel Plate Railroad was built in Central Indiana, connecting communities, people, and goods in a whole new way. In the 1870s, railroad owners announced a stop was being added in southern Hamilton County. Upon hearing this, an entrepreneur by the name of Salathiel Fishers saw an opportunity and purchased land near the stop. He incorporated the area as a new town, and “Fishers Switch” was born where downtown Fishers is now. “Switch” was a common railroad term that denoted a location where people could board the train or switch trains. “Switch” was dropped from the town’s name in the early 1900s, and Fishers remained. The City of Fishers now has the opportunity to embrace its past and look to the future as it creates a whole new kind of experience with the Nickel Plate Trail project.

Interested in learning more about the trail?

Click here for a rocking presentation from the City of Fishers on the Nickel Plate Trail Draft Master Plan.

Interested in being part of Hub & Spoke?

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