What does this mean?
There is a widespread sense that the community does not exhibit pride of place and ownership to an acceptable level—nor does it perform basic upkeep in a manner that instills confidence. Public properties, private properties, and the spaces that connect them—major corridors, gateways, streets, parks, etc.—send an overall message that the community has low standards for itself. There are certainly exceptions to this impression, but prevailing conditions raise an important question: If the community doesn’t seem interested or capable of investing in itself, why should anybody else (potential businesses and residents included)?
In the context of TogetherDM, ‘quality of place’ has a broad definition and will mean different things at different scales. But it all boils down to one’s experience of their community and how the physical environment influences that experience:
Block-level: Absence of litter, condition of private property, condition of streets and sidewalks, quality of public fixtures, attention to visible details large and small
Neighborhood or corridor level: Sense of arrival and identity, condition and quality of amenities and assets (parks, schools, etc.), consistency of property conditions and built form, apparent capacity of residents or businesses to manage their shared spaces
Rural area: Quality of rural atmosphere and character, depending on context (pastoral, agricultural, small community)
Downtown or Main Streets: Quality and vibrancy of civic spaces, sense of arrival and identity
Why is this a priority?
Low standards are a self-fulfilling prophesy. They discourage people within the community from working to improve the quality of their homes, neighborhoods, and civic spaces, and they discourage people and businesses with numerous options in nearby counties from moving in. Over time, this dampens the community’s tax base—and with it, its fiscal capacity to improve and maintain itself.
What do we know about this, or what are we trying to find out?
Residential Property Condition Survey
During April and early May, a field survey of residential property conditions will assign a score to over 35,000 properties in Muncie and the county’s six incorporated towns. This will identify properties with visible levels of deferred maintenance as well as properties where investment and pride of ownership are evident.
An analysis of major corridors will identify areas of strength and weakness in terms of the quality of design and user experience. Strong corridors instill a sense of pride and serve as magnets, while weak corridors convey disinvestment and/or lack of planning.
Street/Road Maintenance Analysis
The quality of streets and roads is one of the most basic signals a community sends about its ability to take care of essential infrastructure and niceties that contribute to quality of life. The latest assessment of Muncie’s streets shows that over 60% of its streets are in need of reconstruction. Similar data will be collected from the County.
Existing park networks and opportunities to better connect or expand upon that network will be explored.