Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photos: Cleaning up the Canal

Now, from the files of "does anybody really want to see this?" here are a couple pictures of the on-going cleanup of the algae-infested canal. And because you're dying to know: yes, the canal still reeks even when it's freezing outside.


Jessica said...

Any report on how long it's going to take to complete the clean-up?

Anonymous said...

You're a brave man. Thanks for the progress report...I was at the Eiteljorg a couple of weeks ago with a visitor and didn't want to venture out the back for this very reason.

CorrND said...

I just looked around a bit and it looks like the original contract was to run through Feb. 7th. Obviously that already passed, but they're pretty close to done. All the equipment in the pictures is currently sitting at 9th St, so they've only got 2 blocks to go. I'd guess just a couple weeks more and they'll be done.

Anonymous said...

I hope they get it done in time for St. Pat's day. It really won't seem like St. Pat's day without a green colored canal!

beffuh said...

How's this for a conspiracy theory--from a friend: I find it highly suspicious that the canal cleaning people had the north end looking pretty clean a month ago, and yet they still are hauling truckfuls of dirt from there down to the pick-up point by the Ohio Street bridge, and that the north end is now all full of dirt and ice. Where's it coming from? My completely unsubstantiated guess is that they're loading into dump trucks at Ohio Street, and then emptying it up at 9th street back into the canal.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please help me to understand why this clean-up is necessary? I personally liked the plants/fish that occupied the canal. I can agree on clearing algea from the surface, but what exactly does the public ultimately want? Is everyone hoping for chemical treated swimming pool-like waters? Do we really want to make the canal some sterile, disneyesque environment?

Anthony Bullard said...

First off, great shots corrND. I continually appreciate the work you do reporting on Indy development.

I personally think the issue here was the smell. They just wanted it to be a pleasant waterfront for people to visit. Though I think the only way they can hope to keep the scent down(and the algae gone) long term is to increase the speed of the water flow. How to accomplish this, I do not really know. My idea would be to put a grade into the canal at a very small angle(fractions of a degree) and the improve the exit point flow when the canal reaches the White River. Of course, you don't want a rushing rapid, but something quite a bit more than stagnant.

In San Antonio - where I spent some time in the Air Force - their Riverwalk(which I think is the model for a center city canal) has a decent flow that isn't really noticeable to the naked eye but yet controls algae growth. And the Riverwalk is definitely not "disneyland" material, whatever that means. But I think the city really should look to entrust the canal to the owners of the canal frontage, so they would have an economic incentive to make the kind of improvements that could spur more significant interest in the area.

The key to these sort of developments working is to get a lot of canal-front development, sort of like we will see with the Cosmopolitan. Also, putting visitors on that canal are important. San Antonio does this best by putting several big name hotels directly on the canal, as well as having the city center mall be located on a branch of it. Sounds like an opportunity lost twice with this city, with the Circle Center mall being built where it is and the JW going off West.

But I have faith that put in the right hands, this canal could still become what it should be.

CorrND said...

Thanks speedblue. I agree that all is not lost for the canal, though the possibility for a locus of energy at the head of the canal was lost when all three of the new buildings were built without ground floor retail. What a lost opportunity.

I agree, the Cosmo will be a plus. And the lot across from the Indiana History Center is key. Long-term, I have high hopes that we'll get some interesting things on the east side of the canal between St. Claire and 10th, where all those warehouses are. And very long term, I'd like to see the Residence Inn/Courtyard block redeveloped.

Anthony Bullard said...

Just wondering if in your travels you've ever been to the Riverwalk in San Antonio? It absolutely makes San Antonio in my Top 10 cities in the world just by itself. And it is loved by tourists and natives alike.

Do you think there is a chance that the Canal Square apartments would be redeveloped with a higher density mixed use project? Do you see any other areas of opportunity there?

And I know this is slightly off topic, but is there a chance that the other slash across downtown - the elevated rail from Union Station - could be somehow better resolved? How many trains and of what sort are still ran on these tracks? I would think if the trains are diesels, that the rail could be put underground and the resulting new real estate could be sold for redevelopment. I think such a project would unify "Lucasville" with downtown proper.

But I have to say that I was happy to read an article by Peter King of Sports Illustrated talking about the NFL Combine and he said this:

"And as long as we're talking about Indy, I hope Indianapolis gets the 2012 Super Bowl ... and this from a guy who wishes every Super Bowl were played in San Diego. Indy deserves it. It's the most walkable downtown in America."

I don't know if I agree completely, but nice to hear from a well-traveled journalist.

CorrND said...

The site of Canal Square once had a proposal for a tower of some sort. I think it was in the 80s, one of the many proposals back then that never saw the light of day. Someone else may have more info on that.

Regarding redevelopment of Canal Square, I kinda doubt we'd see that anytime soon. It's actually a reasonably high density project and they did have the foresight to include canal-level spaces. They're currently used as offices but there's no reason we couldn't see shops and maybe restaurants in those spaces in the future.

If an apartment project were to be redeveloped, I think Gardens of Canal Court is a better bet. I happen to live there because it's very convenient for work, but it's a horrible, inefficient, suburban design.

I'm not much of an expert on rail but my instinct is that putting the rails underground is financially infeasible. Plus, it would eliminate the possibility of reusing Union Station for future rail transit.

Nice King quote! Anything that can help the bid, I suppose.

CorrND said...

speedblue -- I just reread what you wrote about the rail lines and I was reminded of something my Dad just mentioned this weekend. He was talking about all the old coal-powered trains in Manhattan and the Central Depot in particular.

Apparently an accident happened at some point (due to visibility issues at the Depot from all the smoke) and the city mandated that all the trains in Manhattan be converted to electric. The rail lines were converted to electric, put underground in multiple levels and development rights above the lines were sold to pay for the work. That area is now Grand Central Station and Park Ave.

I'm guessing that's similar to what you're proposing. That wouldn't be impossible but it would probably take more political will and muscle than can be mustered in Indy.

Anthony Bullard said...

I agree completely about the political will part. That's what makes me angry. It seems that for 99% of people, if the politicians won't do it, why bother? I think that these sort of project should be studied and then brought to the city's attention. Say, hey, if you don't want to do this, we'll make it happen. But then from out of nowhere some "Indianapolis Elevated Rails Preservation Society" would magically appear and say the structure is to important to our historical character for it to be torn down and replaced with much better development.

Financially, I think it could work. We are talking about building a tunnel that is less than a mile long, if you include the Amtrak Terminal. I would include that most definitely, as it is large and it visually obstructs the skyline. I think a new transit center could be built coming south from the Union Station and east to McCrae, possibly connecting to a large-frontage, shallow-depth development across Illinois (SkyWalk?).

I think that this may not be as financially strong a case as was the case in New York due to their higher density and this higher property values. But the profits from the sale of the land could also be boosted by putting the new rail terminal to work. Make it a New Union Station with heavy rail spidering out along the eight main corridors (all existing rail) and hitting the Airport, Fishers, Lawrence/Ft. Ben, Southport, Greenwood, Beech Grove, Avon, etc. Streetcars connecting downtown's main attractions, and buses from the suburbs and uptown area.

Reduce visual obstruction, Give a rebirth to local mass transit, and free up more land for development in the city center.

And I just realized that this whole discussion is really off topic. Maybe this should be a post itself...