Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v13n04)
Everything you always wanted to know about the canal...part eleven
posted: Feb. 19, 2016
For those readers just discovering this series on the canal now in its 11th part, I will explain why the canal is important and why the Gazette is doing this series. The dam that created the Central Canal was built on the White River in 1936 and the Town of Broad Ripple grew up around it. It is why we are here today. For years the canal has supplied the City of Indianapolis with 60% of its fresh water which is processed for our clean water supply.
A little background for this segment... In 1958 a concrete parking deck was constructed over the canal. It completely obscured the canal from the firehouse to about halfway to the College Avenue bridge. I remember a parking lot arm that raised either to let cars in or out, but I don't remember which. I also don't know if they charged to park there (I wasn't born until 1960!) In 1999 it was torn down and the canal was restored to its original glory. Over the years several have sent in photos. If any readers have photos of the parking deck, please let me know. It is important to preserve as much Broad Ripple history as possible.
The parking deck over the canal in 1988 as seen from the air during a special aerial photo tour of Broad Ripple. The start of the canal can be seen above the deck. Below the deck is the College Avenue canal bridge (College running left and right in this photo). Broad Ripple Avenue runs diagonally to the upper right in this photo. In the left center, you can see the old Shell station and apartments that were recently razed to make way for the Fresh Thyme Market and Coil Apartments. In the lower right corner, are Roselyn Bakery and Bob's Marathon that were razed for the mixed-use parking structure.
"Were you around for the parking deck that was over the canal?" I asked Sarah Holsapple, Media Relations for Citizens.
"No," she answered, "what year was that? No, I wasn't here."
"It came down in 1999," I replied. "This is them taking the canal deck down," as I pointed at a picture I brought.
Taking down the canal deck in 1999. This is looking to the north east. The pickup truck in the right center is next to the old Future Shock. To the right of that is the fire station.
"The deck is in here too," said Ed Malone, Director of Water Production for Citizens, pointing at another picture I brought.
"Do you remember the parking deck?" I asked Ed.
"Yes, I remember the parking deck," he answered.
I showed several pictures. "This is them taking it down in 99. I have an aerial picture of it too, you can see the cars on the canal here. Here is one of them building it."
Ed said, "Actually we liked the parking deck being there. The reason being is we didn't get the weed growth under the parking deck."
"No sunlight!" added Edwin Morris, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor for Citizens.
"It was pretty long," I explained while pointing to the aerial photo, " it went from here (Guilford) all the way down to here (half way to College) along the canal."
Sarah exclaimed, " Wow! Interesting. So, there was a lot more parking in Broad Ripple!"
Ed answered, "Oh yeah, there was a lot more parking there."
"Do you know who took the deck down?" I asked. "Who was responsible? Was it the city. . . or DPW? Do you remember anything about that?"
Ed answered, "I don't remember how that decision was made. I know we were involved in the decision, but I was not party to that."
Sarah added, "And when you say we, that is way before Citizens owned the water utility starting in 2011."
"That's correct," said Ed.
"At the time, we heard it was too expensive to fix because it was crumbling," I added.
Ed said, "It was [crumbling]. It wasn't a utility structure (meaning belonging to a public utility), it was a city parking structure."
I remember the concrete deck was in such bad shape that you could see the canal through large holes. I think sections were roped off for safety. I remember a parking study being performed showing that there was a surplus of available parking spots in the Village and that the removal of the parking deck would not be injurious to local businesses. I believe that study counted the spots available in every parking lot and along every street in Broad Ripple. They compared that to the estimated number of visitors. Parking in Broad Ripple has long been a topic of conversation!
End of Part Eleven