On Thursday, West Lafayette unveiled a new draft of the long-term vision of the city’s land use, introducing a reimagined version of the levee and parts of Chauncey while respecting the historic buildings in the area.
The plan marks the beginning of what will be a decades long venture into the future look and feel of West Lafayette. The plan follows the most recent completion of two new high-rises on State Street as well as the overall end of the State Street redevelopment plan.
The new plan, detailed in 105 pages, breaks each area down into short, medium or long term objectives that are marked with varying degrees of priority. One of the plans biggest focuses, is a long stated goal to provide a smoother transition from West Lafayette to the sister city of Lafayette.
Part of that transition was the inclusion of two new possible pedestrian bridge locations. The first bridge, coined “Rail Bridge,” comes from the unused set of rails along the railroad bridge while the second was proposed to be a cable bridge suspended over the Wabash River from Brown Street.
However, one of the more talked about areas of the plan was the reworked levee area that introduces a modern, grid pattern of roads. Alongside the levee were various road improvement suggestions, such as new roundabouts on South River Road at Wood Street and Columbia Street. The full plan details all of the suggested road improvements and provides a full view of the grid system proposed for the levee.
“We look at successes as a sort of barometer about where the community is going,” said Ryan O’Gara, assistant director of the Area Plan Commission. “But at the same time, we also want to have limitations on where things could go so that there’s some logic to the development pattern, it’s not just this scatterbrained haphazard, high rise over there, two-story building there lawless environment.”
The near overcrowded room in the West Lafayette Public Library was cautious of the new plan but appreciative of the work put into the plan as well as the invitations for feedback. Some in the room were displeased with the look of the current development in the area.
“They’re very well prepared, as a matter of fact, this is very interesting,” Jacky Ralf, a West Lafayette local, said. “I just came because I am interested in what’s going on here. I am interested in the historic preservation, I’m interested in how this looks.”
The future looks of the area were a common concern for many. While the plan is to identify the future use of the land, the plan does talk about the inclusion of buildings no higher than 10-stories and suggestions for green space. One resident, Arielle Falardeau already sees the current development as that scatterbrained, lawless environment in the community that O’Gara hopes to avoid.
“I’m really thankful that the city is open to getting feedback from the public,” Arielle Falardeau, a West Lafayette local, said. “It definitely sounds like they are going to do the grid system, now what they put in there, I don’t know. But I’m really hoping that we have more of a plan than what has been going on. This seems like just unbridled, reckless development that’s been happening.”
Falardeau also questioned whether current West Lafayette schools, in their current landlocked nature, would be able to handle an increase of population after the proposed increase of residential options in the area.
The introduction of the amended plan sparks the beginning of a month long input session, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said, and encourages all constituents in the area to call their city councilor with suggestions and feedback on the plan.