May 23, 2024

Development in Speedway: A conversation with the town's new director


A view of Main Street in the Town of Speedway. - Courtesy of Speedway

A view of Main Street in the Town of Speedway.

Courtesy of Speedway

There's been a lot of development in the Town of Speedway over the past decade.

To learn about some of the successes and challenges the town has seen in that time, WFYI’s Jill Sheridan sat down with Carmen Lethig, its new economic development director.

Sheridan: 15 years ago Main Street was just a shadow of what it is today. What do you feel when you walk down that street today?

Lethig:  You know, I've heard some jokes from those folks and people who lived there a long time that there literally used to be tumbleweeds that went down the street. So you're right, there's been a lot of progress. I think when I walked down Main Street, I'm just first of all, I'm super happy to be there. I've only been there for about two months. But I'm really excited to be part of the continuing progress in town.

You know, there's been so many positive projects that have happened and developed over the past couple of years by, you know, my predecessor and town councilors, and other partners that have really just worked to create an environment that's conducive to redeveloping Main Street and other parts of Speedway.

Sheridan: So what excites you about the next steps in the town of Speedway? There's a lot of opportunity?

Lethig: Obviously, it's very unique, and in a few different ways. It's got the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it's got some, some national and worldwide corporations that are, you know, located in the town, but it has challenges just like any other community.

I’m talking about housing, how do we have a variety of types of housing to support residents? How do we support business retention and attraction? How do we continue thinking about connectivity and being able to have different modes of transportation such as walking and biking, and the redevelopment commission has ownership of some sites. And so to be able to think about the opportunities that we have in building the community. 

Sheridan: There is better connectivity today. I know they've been working on some trail projects for a very long time that are now coming to fruition.

Lethig: Yeah, so they have the B&O trail now, and that traverses throughout town on the southern edge, it's really cool. It goes right through Main Street, and it connects to the beautiful Leonard Park.

And there's also the P&E Trail, which is on you know, the other side of Main Street, the town did get a grant from the Indianapolis MPO last year to improve some pedestrian crosswalks on Crawfordsville Road down on the western side where the retail is to improve walkability, both in safety and connectivity for our residents.

Sheridan: And in recent years there have been other large infrastructure projects, you know, off the highway, and I'm thinking of the large roundabout right in front of the speedway. How do those play into development decisions?

Lethig: I think in a couple different ways. I think one, it shows, you know, there's been dedication, there's been resources, there's been, you know, collaboration, not only internally in the town, but with the town and, you know, Indianapolis and the state and, you know, showing that there's just a lot of interest in continuously improving the town itself.

So you mentioned, you know, some of the improvements in the infrastructure down on Crawfordsville road near the interstate. I mean, it's absolutely beautiful. Now, we recently just put in a gateway sign, and it's beautiful, and it's right there. If you continued east, on Crawfordsville. Road, you do come to that roundabout, which I'm told is the largest roundabout in the state.

Sheridan: The elephant at the roundabout is a large hotel project that did not come to fruition, that project will not move forward as originally planned, is that correct?

Lethig: Well, you know, I can't speak too much to the details or speculate on what's going to happen in the future. There is a pending lawsuit, which the town is not part of. However, you know, all I can say is that, you know, I think we all started with the best intentions on trying to put something at that very high profile intersection.

We do continue to have regular meetings about it and to get updates on the lawsuit. It is not a project that we're forgetting about. Just trying to figure out what can happen there in the future.

Sheridan: Thank you so much for coming in to chat today.

Lethig: Yeah, thank you.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org.

 

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