Broad Ripple Village is an arts, shopping, and nightlife community located along the White River and Central Canal, six miles north of downtown Indianapolis. And like so many places, it is at a crossroads. Broad Ripple started out as one thing, evolved into another, and now…it has to decide what it wants to be as a grown up. Otherwise, it runs the risk of letting others decide for it.
My husband and I moved to Broad Ripple in 2005. I had recently moved up from Birmingham, Alabama. We were dating, talking marriage, and looking for houses. Michael took me to Broad Ripple for lunch and to walk along the Monon Trail. I fell in love immediately. A new development was going up. They were European-style townhomes nestled in along the trail, next to the Indianapolis Art Center and the White River. It was perfect. We signed a contract immediately and moved in the following year, just a few months after we were married. Happily ever after!
During those early years, we took advantage of everything Broad Ripple had to offer. We rarely drove, walked to dinner, along the trail, and enjoyed the happening nightlife, sometimes into the early morning hours. We walked home after dark without thinking twice about crime.
Then, life changed. We settled happily into married life and spent more time traveling and less time in the bars. Broad Ripple was also changing. We heard more about muggings, violence, and gun crimes…all of it after dark and most of it in the late night, early morning hours.
A few summers ago, it got bad. Real bad. The shootings downtown started popping up in Broad Ripple — one in daylight along the Monon Trail. The crown jewel of our city, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department responded by flooding the trail with cops (it was also an election year). I couldn’t go for a walk during broad daylight without seeing several police officers along the trail. And I wasn’t complaining. I made a point of smiling at them, waving, and saying hi. I wanted them to know I was happy to see them.
This summer, I see a cop here and there, but not regularly. In the meantime, the crime is still rampant. Just this week, a few women walking after hours were approached by a vehicle with two males who pulled a gun and demanded their purses. Then, in the early morning hours after the Fourth of July, came the headline we all dreaded…but knew was coming: 7 people shot in Broad Ripple. One in critical condition.
Broad Ripple Village started out as a seasonal playground, where wealthy Indianapolis residents kept summer cottages along the White River. Then, in the 60’s, it became a happening arts community and hippy hangout, the remnants of which are still here. But, it’s the adolescent phase it’s now in that concerns me.
Broad Ripple doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of who or what it wants to be. And what is happening now, mostly in the after hours, is not the Broad Ripple that I know and love.
Residents and business owners watch helplessly as the night scene (and all that goes with it) takes away from the image and the reputation of our upscale, relaxed, and vibrant community. One we pay high taxes to live in.
It’s time for Broad Ripple to make a decision. Who’s it going to be? What’s it going to be? Not deciding is no longer an option. That alone is making a decision…a decision to let others decide for it. And we can already see where that’s going…
Don’t force the hand of those who love to live and work in Broad Ripple. Because some of us don’t want to move to Carmel like everyone else.
Broad Ripple. Sophisticated urban living.
But only during the day.