- Two-Way Conversion
- Streetscape: Investment Breakdown
- August Events
- 3 Reasons Why Indianola Is Thriving
- Rental Inspection - Quick Guide
We’re converting downtown streets from one-way to two-way. Here’s what you should know.
April 29, 2021
Hey, Indianola! After the last few years of reviews, discussions and approvals, the conversion of one-way streets to two-way is scheduled to take place in a few weeks.
On May 17th, traffic on Howard and Buxton Streets will switch from one-way to two-way, creating safer driving conditions and bringing many other benefits to our downtown area.
As part of ongoing effort to keep our community informed, we put together a post with key information about the project.
Keep scrolling to learn more!
On Monday, May 17th, the current one-way traffic on Howard and Buxton Streets – as well as on all sides of Downtown Square – will change to two-way traffic. This conversion is part of the ongoing Downtown Square Streetscape project.
How does this benefit the community?
Here are ten reasons why we’re transitioning from one-way to two-way traffic.*
#1: A safer drive.
#2: Easier navigation.
#3: Improved livability.
#4: Better exposure for businesses and easier navigation for visitors.
#5: Safer conditions for bikers and pedestrians.
#6: No more wrong-way drivers.
#7: Less emissions from vehicles.
#8: Less total distance traveled.
#9: Better access for public safety vehicles.
#10: Less signage and pavement markings. (The City will need to maintain 144 fewer signs and 14 fewer pavement markings.)
*Note: The above benefits were derived from research from multiple sources. Data was provided by the Transportation Research Board; the Journal of Planning Education and Research; the Journal of Public Health; the Bloomberg CityLab; and multiple case studies from Fort Collins (CO), Austin (TX), Toledo (OH), Fargo (ND), Cincinnati (OH), Louisville (KY) and Des Moines.
How will this impact parking?
On-street parking on Buxton and Howard Streets north of the Square will not change. Parking will still be allowed on the west side of Howard Street, with no parking on the east side. Parking will also be allowed on the east side of Buxton Street, with no parking on the west side.
However, with the traffic conversion, the direction your car faces while parked will change. You will need to park your car facing south on Howard Street and north on Buxton Street.
Also, to accompany a new drive-thru lane for mail drop-off, parking on both sides of Buxton Street between 1st Avenue and Highway 92 will no longer be allowed.
The parking limitations in the Simpson College neighborhoods that do not allow for on-street parking between 2AM and 5AM – on Buxton Street, between Boston Avenue and Jackson Avenue, as well as on Howard Street, between Boston Avenue and Iowa Avenue – will remain in place.
How will this affect mail drop-off?
Currently, the Indianola Post Office allows for drive-up mail drop-off on the east side of Buxton Street, between 1st Avenue and Highway 92. Due to the two-way conversion, the City will be constructing a new on-street drive-thru lane on the west side of Buxton Street, next to the Post Office.
This project (along with a portion of the Streetscape project) is anticipated to be finished this summer. However, there may be a period during which you are unable to drive-up to drop off your mail while construction is occurring.
Are there new bike lanes?
As part of the conversion, the City will be adding on-street bicycle lanes between the Jerry Kelly Trail, which crosses Buxton Street at Franklin Avenue at the southeast corner of Buxton Park, and Highway 92.
These on-street shared bike lanes, as identified in the Indianola Trails Plan, will connect the Downtown Square and the Central Iowa trail network.
Will this impact intersections and traffic lights?
As part of this project, the City applied for, and received, a Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation. This enabled the City to study the existing traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 92 and Buxton Street.
This stoplight, which is operating under outdated components and in need of an upgrade (regardless of a traffic conversion), was studied to determine if it will still be warranted after the traffic conversion. The study revealed the stoplight is still necessary based on traffic volumes, accident history, geometry, sight distance, speed, and road capacity.
Additionally, various intersections along Buxton and Howard Streets were studied to determine whether four-way stops would be necessary. The four intersections on the Square will be converted from three-way stops to four-way stops. Those include:
- Howard Street and Salem Avenue
- Howard Street and Ashland Avenue
- Buxton Street and Salem Avenue
- Buxton Street and Ashland Avenue
The intersection at Buxton Street and Clinton Avenue will also be converted from a three-way stop to a four-way stop.
Additionally, three other intersections will be converted from two-way stops to four-way stops. Those include:
- Howard Street and Clinton Avenue
- Howard Street and Iowa Avenue
- Buxton Street and Iowa Avenue
Where can I learn more?
The City of Indianola’s City Square Master Plan, approved in 2019, outlines a vision to create a better downtown experience for businesses, residents and visitors alike. This plan includes two-way traffic conversions, as well as new parking structures, street furnishings and much more.
DOWNTOWN SQUARE STREETSCAPE: INVESTMENT BREAKDOWN
May 26, 2021
Beginning this year, the Downtown Square Streetscape Project will bring a number of improvements to the heart of Indianola. These improvements, which mainly consist of critical infrastructure updates, will support our residents and businesses for years to come, while attracting new visitors to Indianola.
Infrastructure improvements—including work being done on streets, sidewalks and underground utilities—account for more than 80 percent of the entire project. Remaining costs are for various street-level enhancements, such as new streetlights, trees, permanent planter boxes, and power for public events on the Square.
Sidewalks will be widened, offering businesses more outdoor space. Crosswalks will be improved, making it safer for pedestrians to cross. Also, two public parking lots will be rehabbed, making it easier than ever to visit the Square.
That’s a quick overview. Now, let’s take a closer look at one of the project’s most important components: updates and improvements to an aging utility infrastructure.
Utility infrastructure improvements
In addition to street and sidewalk improvements, the Streetscape Project includes much-needed updates to the Square’s utility infrastructure, which is outdated, undersized, and failing in many locations.
This infrastructure includes:
- Sanitary sewers. Typically, a clay sewer line has a lifespan of about 50 years. The clay sewer lines beneath the downtown square are already more than 70 years old. These need to be replaced by modern PVC lines with an 8” diameter (as opposed to the current pipes’ 6” diameter), to account for increased usage.
- Water mains. The Square’s current water mains are also more than 70 years old and, like the sewers, outdated. With a 4” diameter, these old iron pipes are too narrow to provide adequate water pressure to modern-day fire apparatuses and sprinkler systems. Clearly, this is a safety issue. These mains will be replaced with 8” PVC pipes.
- Stormwater. A number of updates will be made throughout the square to improve drainage and prevent flooding and standing water. That includes new, upsized storm sewers, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and bio-retention areas. Recently, the City received a $1.7 Million grant to assist in stormwater improvements being made to the Square.
Get all the facts
The City’s investment in Streetscape was made in accordance with an assessment conducted by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), along with the City of Indianola, the Indianola Chamber of Commerce, and the Warren County Economic Development Corporation, with significant input from the community.
To learn more about the Indianola Downtown Square Streetscape Project—including the Streetscape Assessment and Master Plan—click or tap here.
City of Indianola - Summer Events Blog
UFOs spotted over Indianola? Well, not quite...
When the stars come out over Indianola, the Nite Glow begins. Strange shapes take flight. Optical illusions abound. Egg-like giants, flashes of fire, things you just can’t explain—a flying mustache, for instance—parade across the starry night. And then, just when it can’t get any stranger, it all begins to glow.
Science fiction? Even better. It’s the National Balloon Classic, one of 2 big events coming to Indianola before the end of the summer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Classic and the Warren County Fair...
The National Balloon Classic: July 26-Aug 7
What: Indianola’s annual National Balloon Classic takes flight July 26th, when more than 100 hot-air balloons fly across the Des Moines area. This is followed by nine days of family-friendly fun, including: daytime and ‘Nite Glow’ shows, private balloon rides, daily live music, food, drinks, fireworks and more.
When: July 26th – August 7th
Where: Most of the action is happening at the Memorial Balloon Field, 15335 Jewel St., Indianola.
Learn more: Book tickets for private rides, download the 2021 Guest Guide, and get all the details for the event here.
The Warren County Fair: July 28-Aug 2
What: To say that the Warren County Fair is an ‘old tradition’ is an understatement. In fact, when the fair was first held in Indianola in 1855, there were only 31 states in the nation! One-hundred and sixty-six years (and 19 states) later, the annual event draws thousands to Indianola’s fairgrounds with delicious fair food, carnival rides, music and grandstand events.
This year, the carnival is making its glorious return (after a COVID-19 hiatus), along with a monster truck rally, a veterans’ ceremony, a wide variety of serious and less-serious competitions (Rooster Crowing Contest, anyone?), and an assortment of pig races, tractor pulls, magic shows, and, well, the list goes on and on.
When: July 28th – August 2nd
Where: The Warren County Fairgrounds, of course! The main entrance is located at 1400 West 2nd Ave. (Highway 92) in Indianola.
Learn more: Buy tickets, check out the fair schedule, see the grandstand lineup, and get all the event details here.
More arts, culture & nature to explore!
Here in Indianola, we love amenities that spark our imaginations, inspire our residents, and bring visitors to our community. That’s why we’re always growing and maintaining a variety of destinations and cultural attractions: from free yoga at our beautiful parks and activities for all ages at the Aquatic Center to the Des Moines Metro Opera, the National Balloon Classic, and the Warren County Fair.
The Metro Opera just wrapped up a thrilling 2021 summer festival—which the Chicago Tribune describes as “among the oldest and most enterprising... in the nation.” You’ll have to wait until next season to catch a show, but, in the meantime, you can donate to the organization and learn more here.
Over the past five years, Indianola has seen tremendous growth across the board, as businesses, residents, and visitors continue to invest in our community.
For those of us who live, work, serve and do business here, it may seem obvious: Our community has a vibrant culture, with a rich arts scene, a bustling economy, great schools, beautiful parks, and quiet neighborhoods to call home. Who wouldn’t want to be here?
But there’s more to it. Before and during our recent growth, the people and leaders of Indianola have come together to create the right conditions for our community’s success. In other words, our success is no accident. It’s the result of careful planning, hard work, and responsible governance.
In no particular order, here are three reasons why Indianola is thriving...
Reason #1: A Growing Tax Base
A growing tax base is not only the result of growth; it actually spurs further growth, enabling our community to continue developing while providing the services that make Indianola a great place to live and work.
Over the last five years, Indianola’s tax base has increased at an average rate of 4.3%, surpassing $1 billion in total valuation. During the same period, there was $186 million invested in local development. As of writing, in 2021, the City has received building permit applications for new dwellings with an average value over $303,000—an increase of 42% compared to 2020 and 87% higher than 2019.
Why is this good for our community? And what does it mean for the average Indianola taxpayer? A growing tax base means that more people are contributing to the cost of public services and amenities, the things that make Indianola a good place to live, work, visit and invest in. For the average taxpayer, it means that – even as the community grows and the City provides more services – your taxes remain low.
For example: Let’s say that running the city takes $60 million annually (that’s not an actual figure, just an example). Would you rather split that cost between 100 people, or a thousand? A larger tax base keeps individual taxes low while ensuring that the City has the funds it needs to provide essential services.
Reason #2: Low Property Taxes
Tax rates impact decisions. When choosing where to live or locate a business, local tax rates are one of the top factors that people consider.
As you can see by the table below, Indianola has one of the lowest consolidated tax rates in the Des Moines Metro (as of Fiscal Year 2021/22) and is among the lowest in the state. This helps us attract new residents and businesses. Meanwhile, our growing tax base – which we discussed above – ensures that we have the funds needed to provide quality public services and amenities.
Note: A consolidated tax rate combines the property tax rates for the County, City and School District, along with a few other smaller taxing governments. The City of Indianola’s portion of the consolidated tax rate is $13.63.
Reason #3: A Strong Financial Rating
The City of Indianola recently received a bond rating of Aa2 – the third-best possible rating – from Moody’s, a major credit-rating service.
Here’s why that matters.
First, bond ratings are issued based on a number of factors, including those that are within the City’s control (such as maintaining strong cash reserves) and beyond it (such as local residents’ income levels). For Indianola, all of the factors within the City’s control received the top bond rating (AAA), indicating that the City is being fiscally responsible.
It also helps that our Local Option Sales Tax revenues are higher than anticipated, at least in part because of visitors attracted to amenities like the Des Moines Metro Opera and events like the National Balloon Classic.
A municipal bond rating determines the level of investment risk and interest cost on bonds used for financing government projects. Because we have a strong bond rating, the City of Indianola can keep costs down when financing projects, lowering the taxpayer burden. We can do more for less.
Learn more about Indianola
Indianola is a city in Warren County, Iowa, just south of downtown Des Moines. Known for attractions like the Des Moines Metro Opera, the National Balloon Classic and the Warren County Fair – as well as our vibrant downtown and parks – Indianola draws visitors from across the region. We are currently home to more than 15,000 residents, as well as a diverse community of businesses.
Want to learn more about doing business in Indianola? Start here.
Indianola’s New Rental Inspection Program: Quick Guide
For tenants, owners, and property managers
If you own a vehicle, you probably have it inspected now and then by a mechanic (you should, anyway) to check the oil, rotate the tires, and make sure everything is working properly. It’s important for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you.
Now, a new Indianola ordinance applies that same principle to rental housing.
The Rental Housing Inspection Program
Now that Indianola has more than 15,000 residents, the State of Iowa requires our city to adopt new standards for rental housing. The biggest changes?
- All rental units within the city must be inspected every two years.
- Tenants can now file complaints with the city about their unit (details below).
Why has Indianola implemented this program?
The State of Iowa requires cities like Indianola to adopt residential inspection codes. Why? Because these programs ensure that rental units are safe—both for the people within them, as well as their neighbors. (For example, an inspector may look for fire hazards or structural damage, which could be dangerous to those within the unit and nearby tenants.) An inspection could save lives.
These codes are especially important in areas with higher population densities, which is why Iowa’s requirement only applies to cities with 15,000 or more residents.
What should tenants expect?
If you live in a rental unit, your home must be inspected every two years. Your property owner or manager should give notice at least 24 hours before the inspection, so the visit won’t be a surprise.
Note: As a tenant, you do not need to register for an inspection. That is your property manager’s responsibility (details below).
Under the new code, you may file a formal complaint regarding issues with your unit. However, you must notify your landlord about the issue first and allow them seven days to address it (unless the issue poses a significant risk to health or safety, in which case you should file it immediately). If your landlord fails to address the complaint after seven days, you may file it with Indianola’s Code Enforcement Office.
Tenants can learn more about the program here.
What should property managers and owners expect?
If you are a property owner or manager of a rental unit in Indianola, your units must be certified by the City of Indianola Community Development Department. This means that each unit must pass a rental housing inspection every two years. To ensure a smooth inspection, review the applicable building code regulations and checklist here.
As a property owner or manager, you must register for a building inspection to comply with City code. Here’s when and how you can register:
When to register
Indianola’s rental housing inspections will be phased into three periods. Property managers and owners will be sorted into a period based on their property’s ward location.
If your property is located in Ward 1, you must register for inspection between April 1, 2022 and October 31, 2022.
If your property is located in Ward 3, you must register for inspection between November 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023.
If your property is located in Ward 2 or Ward 4, you must register for inspection between June 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.
How to register
Registration for rental housing will be made available on the City of Indianola website during the registration periods. Check back for more info.
Have a question about Indianola’s new Rental Housing Inspection Program? Get more details here, or contact the Code Enforcement Officer in the Community Development Department at 515-961-9430 or firstname.lastname@example.org