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Why Now?

For more than 100 years, other local community initiatives have frequently held the White River as a keystone in planning and developing Central Indiana tourism and community activities.

The White River Vision Plan is not intended to replace these initiatives, but to work with them to bring ideas to fruition. Creating a plan to enhance the White River in Indianapolis and Hamilton County guides regional growth for our century.

Final White River Vision Plan

Download the Final Plan

Learn More

Released in March 2020, the White River Vision Plan is the result of a collaboration between the City of Indianapolis and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. in partnership with Visit Indy’s philanthropic arm, Tourism Tomorrow Indy to develop a comprehensive and coordinated regional, community-driven plan to enhance 58 miles of the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties. The goal of the vision plan is to create an accessible, recreational, and cultural environment that encourages a unique sense of place for the community as a whole.  Imagine a network of places and experiences big and small linked together into a national park-scale amenity in the heart of the population and economic engine of Indiana. 

Our Partners

The White River Alliance

The White River Alliance (WRA) is a 16-county consortium of local governments, industry, utilities, universities, agriculture and the regional community that exists to improve and protect water quality on a watershed basis in the larger Upper White River Region.

Friends of the White River

Established in 1985, Friends of the White River is a non-profit organization to promote the continued improvement of the quality of the river’s water, and to maintain and restore habitat and wildlife in the river and along its adjacent greenway.

Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW)

Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is a collective impact initiative that has worked purposefully since 2012 to change the quality of life and ecology along Indianapolis waterways and surrounding neighborhoods.

Vision Plan Steering Committee

Jill Hoffman, White River Alliance
John Ruckelshaus, Indiana State Senate/White River Caucus
Vop Osili, Indianapolis City-County Council
Brian Payne, CICF
Carolene Mays-Medley, White River State Park
Greg Porter, Indiana State House of Representatives
Adam Thies, IUPUI
Kenton Ward, Hamilton County Surveyor
Victoria Spartz, Indiana State Senate/White River Caucus
Steve Cooke, City of Noblesville
Tom Kilian, Legacy Fund
Tony Mason, Indianapolis Urban League
Michael O’Connor, Eli Lilly & Co (invited)
Leonard Hoops, Visit Indy
Betsy McCaw, CICP
Michael Strohl, Citizens Energy Group
Michael Kaufmann, Eskenazi Health
Chuck Kiphart, Hamilton County Planning Commission
David Greene, Concerned Clergy
Kobi Wright, Capital Improvements Board
Keira Amstutz, Indiana Humanities
Dan Stevens, Hamilton County Commissioners Office

Vision Plan Stakeholder Committee

Amy Marisavljevic, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Outdoor Recreation
Beth White, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee
Cam Radford, Indy Community Outreach
Cathy Ferree, IN State Museum
Chris Pryor, MIBOR
Colleen Fanning, BRVA/City-County Council (invited)
David Forsell, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
David Hillman, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
Deb Lawrence, Marian University
Greg Harger, ROW White River
Jonathon Wright, Newfields
Julie Rhodes, Reconnecting to Our Waterways
Katie Robinson, SustainIndy
Kelsey Thetoni, IDEM
Kevin Hardie, Friends of the White River
Leah McGrath, City of Fishers
Leah Nahmias, Indiana Humanities
Linda Broadfoot, IndyParks
Lori Hazlett, Indianapolis Parks Foundation
Melody Park, Indy Department of Public Works (invited)
Michael Klitzing, Carmel Parks
Mike Crowther, Indianapolis Zoo
Norman Burns, Conner Prairie
Phyllis Boyd, Groundwork Indy
Ryan Mueller, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water
Alison Redenz, Marion County Health Department
Sarah Reed, City of Noblesville
Sean Mobley, The Nature Conservancy
Tim Maloney, Hoosier Environmental Council
Bob Dubois, Noblesville Chamber
Alexander Umlauf, ROW (White River)
Jim Flanders, Northern Hamilton County
Rob Versprilla, Northern Hamilton County
Sarah Tilling, Northern Hamilton County
Tim Junk, IDEM

The Experts

Agency Landscape + Planning, a group of talented landscape architects, planners, and urban designers, has been selected to lead a group of local and national businesses who specialize in regional outdoor projects and revitalization initiatives. Led by Gina Ford and Brie Hensold, Agency believes in a more resilient and equitable approach to planning and design that results in more relevant, contextual and vibrant public environments.

The Agency team also includes many local and national firms. Local partners include Christopher Burke Engineering / CBBEL, Engaging Solutions, RATIO Architects, Porch Light, Landstory, Pure Design, Fineline Graphics, Shrewsberry and Project Photo Docs. National team members include Land Collective, Heritage Strategies, Applied Ecological Services / AES and HR&A Advisors.


Project Timeline

Coordinated plans include enhancement of existing places, activation of new spaces, and identification of areas in need of important ecological protection or restoration.

The vision plan will be completed in four phases over twelve months beginning April 2018 through April 2019. Each phase of the vision plan includes a public meeting for Central Indiana residents to learn more and share feedback.


Phase 1 - Discovery

The White River Vision Plan will take inventory of plans previously created for the White River, identify current land ownership along the river, development and mobility patterns, demographic and economic trends, environmental systems and relevant stakeholders. It will include research on current ecological and hydrologic conditions and water quality along the river.


Phase 2 - Envision

Potential destination locations and features to be included in those destinations will be assessed, and specific neighborhood districts close to the river will be identified to highlight within the vision plan. Programming, events, market conditions and unique features will be considered.

Areas of unusual ecological, historical, cultural, scientific or aesthetic significance that are currently overlooked along the river will be identified. The river’s overall system of connectivity will be assessed for gaps and future opportunities.

Finally, concepts and design plans will be created to develop the White River and include themes, events, and experiences already in place in the 58 miles between Marion to Hamilton counties.

DECEMBER 2018 - APRIL 2019

Phase 3 - Action

The White River Vision Plan will identify any policy or legal barriers that could prevent implementation of the plan, and secure public and/or private investors to fully fund development preceding the planning process.

The vision plan will provide guidance for the Central Indiana community to implement and support the plan to final creation

JUNE 2019

Draft Plan Release

During a week of river-related events up and down the river, the final draft of the Vision Plan was released for public comment. This also kicked off a travelling exhibit that summarized the Vision Plan recommendations.

MARCH 2020

Final Plan Release

After nearly two years of work, the final White River Vision Plan was released.

MARCH 2020 - DECEMBER 2020

Governance Transition Team

As recommended in the Vision Plan, a transition team of appointed county representatives explored governance recommendations that allow the two counties to continue to coordinate, collaborate, fund, and implement the ideas of the plan. This work continues in 2021 through staff and further regional conversations. Learn more about the Governance Transition Team.

What's next?

The vision plan offers recommendations with details for completion and ways to support projects and infrastructure included in the plan. The plan also explored funding and governance needs necessary to ensure execution of the vision plan. After the plan’s release, both Hamilton and Marion Counties made appointments to a volunteer “transition team” as recommended by the plan to continue regional conversations on plan governance. In the meantime, regional collaboration has continued and state and local governments, institutions, organizations, and private property owners alike have increasingly embraced the White River and the ideas contained within the plan. A few implementation steps of note include:

  • Completion of master plans for Broad Ripple and Riverside Parks in the IndyParks system, including announcements of committed funding for the new Broad Ripple Park Family Center, a connecting trail between Broad Ripple Park and Broad Ripple Village, the Riverside Park Promenade, the Taggart Memorial Amphitheater, and funding for initial projects in the planned Riverside Adventure Park.
  • Completion of the South River District Study in the Meadow Reach of the river in Hamilton County, including progress on the Conner Prairie master plan that includes a partnership with Carmel-Clay Parks to build a river education center, initial work on a pedestrian bridge that links Carmel and Fishers across the river, and other planned enhancements to Carmel and Hamilton County parks in this stretch of the river.
  • Expansion of White River State Park south of the Indianapolis Zoo as part of the Elanco Headquarters redevelopment of the former GM Stamping Plant.
  • Development of an incentive program through the Indiana Department of Agriculture to encourage farmers to plant cover crops in the upper White River watershed to improve water quality and reduce erosion.
  • Continued work to address combined sewer overflow systems and improve water quality through Citizen’s Energy Group DigIndy Tunnel System as well as in Noblesville.
  • Continued work and focus of dozens of organizations as part of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust’s Partners for the White River program that includes invasive species mitigation, ecological restoration work, educational programming, and continued work on communication initiatives to improve the visibility of the river.

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