Dear Neighbors –
It was not too long ago that I wondered in my letter if it would ever stop raining. Now I find myself wondering if it will ever rain again… I hope you have had a great start to the fall season. It’s hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner. This will be our first Halloween in Zionsville and we are looking forward to the SullivanMunce Ghost Walk and trick-or-treating in the Village!
It certainly was a busy September for the VRA. First, we had the with the annual picnic on September 21st. The recap is too long for this letter so it is a second article in the Village Voice. Second, we had our Town Council candidate town hall on September 24th. I would like to thank all of the Town Council candidates that attended. It was great to learn more about them and their platforms. We hope to work closely in the future with all of the Town Council members that are elected. As a reminder, the town hall was recorded using Facebook Live and can be found on the VRA’s Facebook page.
But the fun never stops in the VRA! Below is some additional VRA information…
October Meeting/Annual Meeting: The Zionsville Historic Preservation Committee will be presenting to the VRA on Tuesday, October 29th at 7:30pm at SullivanMunce Cultural Center. The committee has the tag line of “Exploring Ways to Revitalize Zionsville’s Historic Heritage”. Their goal is to create a Village Conservation District which will focus on tear downs and new construction as well as find ways to reconnect residence with our unique Historic Heritage. If needed, we will use a portion of the meeting for our annual meeting.
Holiday House Decorating Contest: The VRA will have its annual house decorating contest again this year! Sally Zelonis has agreed to organize it but we are looking for additional judges and volunteers to hand out flyers. More details to come.
Progressive Dinner: We are just starting to coordinate this year’s Progressive Dinner so be on the lookout for additional details.
Other VRA news:
VRA Facebook page: The VRA Facebook page is up and running. Our VRA Vice President, Aaron Walton, has taken the helm on this project in an effort to keep more people updated with VRA news and events.
Last but certainly not least, please tell your neighbors about the VRA and invite them to join. They can either sign up through the website or attend the next meeting. Our membership is at a 10 year high and we look forward to welcoming more Village residents! Benefits include joining a strong VRA community, keeping up to date with Village related news and events, and participating in VRA social events.
Have a great October!
I am (or suppose was by the time this is published) very sorry to miss the VRA debate for candidates running for Town Council. I enjoyed the many good questions at the first debate, which for most of you was the first-time hearing about me. There are very few, if any, public debates that get scheduled at this level, so I was happy to see you’d get a chance to meet those folks running for office. While I don’t have an opponent, I don’t want my absences to be misconstrued as a lack of interest in the process or constituents. While it would be inappropriate to use this space to advocate for any candidate or party, I’m excited to serve with whoever is elected given everyone’s qualifications.
One theme I hope you’ve seen from this contribution is the feedback I get from the various heads of the departments related to their interest in serving the community. More specifically, the theme of “call us if you need us” relates to everyone I’ve spoken to including the police and fire.
I recently had an email from a constituent in the village with a few questions. She had identified a few pot holes that needed filling, as well as curiosity about why some street sign placement existed. I sent her note over to Lance Lantz, our street superintendent, who responded that day. Not only did he have the pot holes filled that next day, but the street signs (in this case do not enter) had been situated based on a previous owner’s request, and he scheduled them to be moved to a more appropriate location.
Many people (me included) hesitate to reach out for Town services under the assumption they are too busy or have better things to do. I’ve learned that they welcome the feedback. In the case of the pot holes, the Town doesn’t have the resources to regularly drive around and spot that level of deterioration. Residents who report it allow the Town to address it quicker and prevent larger and more costly repairs.
You’re always welcome to reach out to me, other Councilors in thevillage, the Mayor or any department head with that type of question or observation.
At Home in the Village of Zionsville
The Carpenter-Builder style home of Mark and Sally Zelonis, 40 South 3rd Street, was built in the early 1880’s. The house had a much smaller footprint than it does currently, which includes a wrap-around porch. The names of many of the owners have mostly been lost. The Dunn family purchased the house in the late 1980’s and did a painstaking complete renovation, taking the home’s interior down to its studs. A renovation in 2004 exposed many original clapboards held in place by square, hand-forged nails that are still visible today. Preservation architect, Roll McLaughlin, did a new design for the front porch, one of the home’s delightfully elegant features.
Mark believes the house was originally part of a farmstead. During one of his gardening excavations, he found relics left from the then-customary burying of the “garbage”. He also uncovered hand-made bricks, a never-ending stack which he left buried. (We can speculate it may be the site of the kiln Master Brick Mason and Civil War veteran John Bragg, built to make bricks for his home which was located just a block north of the Zelonis’).
At one time the home was also a boarding house, owned by Mary Bell Bantz. Mark and Sally would love to find pictures of a fire escape extending to the very top portion of the house on the north side dating from the mid-20th century, as well as any other older photos of their home.
Mark and Sally lived in the house for a year before deciding to make it their permanent residence in 1998. Intent on recovering the original appearance, Mark removed all of the exterior siding, uncovering the original clapboards. Sally’s preference for an exterior paint scheme overruled Mark’s, with Sally choosing the aesthetic blending of a soft medium-green and tan with a lovely reddish-brown roof over Mark’s preference for a modest beige. Their hard work, painting, restoring the house to it’s historic roots, rewarded the Zelonis’ the coveted Lamplighter Award. Mark’s talents as a professional horticulturist – 19 years as the IMA’s Ruth Lilly Deputy Director of Environmental Historic Preservation – is evident in the lush and attractively laid out garden visible to passers-by when walking north on 3rd Street.
Mark and Sally love their home and will willingly speak of its charms, and the gardens, to anyone walking by and desiring this conversation.
S ubmitted by Delma Mindel
225 West Hawthorne Street Zionsville, IN 46077
Open Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 4 pm / Saturday 11 am to 3 pm
The SullivanMunce is hosting Walking Tours of Zionsville, through October
Join us for a fun and engaging walking tour of the charming village of Zionsville. Be a history detective and learn about some of the colorful early businesses, residents and events of our historic town.
Registration required. First come, first served basis. Groups will be limited to 20 persons.
Cost of tours: $5 per person, children 10 and under free. Free for members of SullivanMunce Cultural Center.
Please call or email us: email@example.com to register.
Annual Picnic Recap
The VRA’s Annual Picnic on the Bricks on September 21st had a great turnout this year! Many residents took advantage of the perfect weather to picnic on Main Street. As always, all Village residents were invited, regardless of whether they are VRA members or not. We had a lot of young families in attendance, as well, and it was a lot of fun see the kids playing in the street.
Special guests were the Zionsville Fire Department and some of the mayoral and Town Council candidates. We would like to thank all of them for spending their evening with us. The ZFD even brought a fire truck and as you can imagine, kids were immediately lined up to check it out. That was an exciting surprise and we very much appreciated it.
The Lamplighter Committee awarded one Candlestick Award and five Lamplighter Awards. The last time the award was presented was in 2015, so this was a big year for the committee.
The VRA is at a record number of members as a result of new members signing up at the picnic! We are at an all-time high for the last 10 years, which is when we began keeping records. We have a good mix of members – families, individuals, retirees, all kinds of backgrounds, different cultures, renters, owners, etc. Much like the Village itself.
Thank you, as well, to all of the VRA members that helped with the picnic. I learned over the past month of picnic planning that it takes a bit of effort to put the picnic together. Flyer distribution, food purchases, table rentals, setting up, taking down, kids’ zone organization… We couldn’t do it without our volunteers!
Hopefully we can have similar success with a potluck next spring/summer!
Candlestick and Lamplighter Awards
The Lamplighter Committee awarded one Candlestick Award and five Lamplighter Awards at this year’s VRA Annual Picnic on the Bricks. The last time the award was presented was 2015, so this was an exciting year for us!
The Lamplighter Award was started by the VRA in 2000 to shine a light on recent projects that have maintained the original character of historic homes within the Village boundaries. Keeping with the lamplighter theme, a lantern is present to the homeowners who are lighting the way of renovation, restoration and rehabilitation.
Award Recipients are as follows:
290 W. Cedar Street (Barbara Jason Thorp): This home didn’t fully fit the criteria of a Lamplighter Award but enough care was show to the details in the renovation and reconstruction that the Lamplighter Committee awarded them a Candlestick Award. The details that they added were details that make so many historic Village homes unique and can make new additions look like they have been part of the neighborhood for a century.
The Lemon Bar: This year a business award was added. Who could believe that The Lemon Bar was previously an old car wash on Elm Street? Kate Drury had the vision to turn it into a charming restaurant, while keeping some of the unique and quirky elements of the space as part of her design.
295 N. 5th Street (Debbie Greg McGrath): Debbie and Greg discovered that their home had no substantial foundation when they tried to build a small back porch to replace some crumbling steps. This one is a true save and rescue. Their decision to save the house from certain collapse, to preserve it for several centuries is what this award is about.
485 W. Cedar Street (Liz White): One big change the committee decided to make this year was adding a new home category. This new construction was done without tearing down an existing home. The new construction fits into the character of the neighborhood with its detached garage to the rear of the home, gables and a front porch.
130 N. Maple Street (Lisa Hackman): This house could have easily been a tear down. Then Lisa came along and rescued it. She moved the door so that she could have a nice front porch, she installed an old window where the door had been, and she rehabbed the interior and exterior like crazy.
445 W. Ash Street (Betsy Pitts): This one could have been a tear down, as well. Looking at the home from the front, it’s nearly impossible to see the remodel that happened in the back. The style has remained the same. The addition in the rear – which added living space, a garage and bathrooms – is only noticeable if you look carefully. It shows that preservation and renovation can go hand in hand without needing a variance.
From ZCS: Support the Zionsville Facilities Operations Referendum
Protect Class Sizes— 200 new students annually1 over the next decade require
more classroom space and teachers
• Stop overcrowded classes
• Prevent losing reading, math, science, music and PE specialty teachers the
reduction/elimination of major curriculum such as Project Lead the Way and
AP, robotics languages classes
Protect Property Values— Strong schools = Strong property values
• Reputation of excellent schools increase the value of homes
• When the 2010 referendum failed, Zionsville home values dropped while
neighboring home values increased2
Student Population Growth— Schools have NO ROLE in community growth
a. By state law, school districts do not have a vote on the local
Redevelopment Commission; and, therefore have no authority to
effect neighborhood development
i. The Zionsville School Board testified before the Indiana State
Legislature seeking a change in law to allow schools a vote on
Redevelopment Commissions and thus able to advocate
concerns of community growth and the effect on schools
b. Zionsville had a net 200-plus students this semester
c. Voting no will harm our students, harm our community and harm our
home values which are directly linked to the reputation of our schools
Two School Referendums Will Be on the November Ballot
The facilities referendum will provide bonding authority to build a new elementary
school, expansion and modifications to the high school, and
modifications/improvements to all other schools
o Two elementary schools are at capacity today and the high school is
o Additional classroom space will protect class sizes, eliminate the need
for semi-annual redistricting, and safeguard curriculum
The operating referendum will extend the current referendum for 8-years at the
exact same rate the present referendum provides
a. Referendum will protect class sizes from exploding
b. Funds at least 1/3 of all teachers
c. 100% of referendum dollars stay in Zionsville to fund teachers
What would have happened in 2015 if the current referendum failed?3
• Class sizes increased all grade levels, significantly (see below for example)
• 120 positions cut major programs eliminated: specialty teachers for
reading, math, science, art, PE as well as STEM, AP, robotics, labs etc.
Remember what actually happened in 2010….4
• Cuts were harsh, impactful, and swift
o 150 positions were eliminated
o Elimination of Baccalaureate program, elementary specialized
teachers: reading, math, science, music PE. Reduced or eliminated:
labs, AP classes, language
• Crowded classes with 40+ students
o Classes with 21 to 29 students: 249
o Classes with 30+ students: 223
o Classes with 35+ students: 45
• Home values declined at time when nearby community prices increased
o Compelling correlation between strong schools community