State Street Redevelopment Project Unveiled

In a joint presentation between Purdue University and the City of West Lafayette, city engineer Dave Buck discussed in great detail the eminent redevelopment of West Lafayette’s State Street Corridor.

Wabash Landing and State Street boulevard
Proposed street scape for West Lafayette’s new State Street Corridor (click to enlarge)

During the Purdue Road School keynote, university president Mitch Daniels gave Purdue’s seal of approval for West Lafayette to form a public-private partnership using the unique Build Operate Transfer concept of project financing.

Mayor John Dennis made some brief remarks, before introducing Buck’s technical briefing, by saying: “we need to ensure bike and ped traffic is respected.” The mayor’s ultimate goal is to “unify our two separate entities” and welcome the university into the boundaries of the City of West Lafayette.

As Dennis mentioned on WBAA’s “Ask the Mayor” last week (as well as during last year’s planning meetings), he doesn’t want to wait around to get started on this “once in a lifetime opportunity” to re-imagine the city. He has even changed Daniels’ mind after the Purdue president initially “laughed out loud” about the project.

Buck presented to a packed Fowler Hall in Stewart center. Here are some key takeaways:

Key Facts About State Street Redevelopment Project

  • Proposals due November 2015
  • Construction Begins April 2016
  • Upwards of $100 million estimated cost
  • Bicycle and walking paths on a two-way street from the River to US 231
  • State Street roundabouts at Tapawingo Dr, and River Rd
  • New Williams St south perimeter parkway to connect with Harrison St.
  • Full and/or partial reconstruction of N. River Rd, W. Stadium Ave to McCormick Rd south, to Airport Rd. to US 231 to complete the rest of the perimeter parkway.
  • Extend Cherry Lane to US 231 in order to ease congestion for football traffic and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Major one-way to two-way conversions of sections of N. Russell, Waldron, N. University, Marstellar, Sheetz, W. Wood, Pierce, S. Chauncey, Northwestern, and N. Grant streets.
  • Project complete December 2018

Redeveloping State Street into a real city street is an ambitious and long overdue project. Here’s hoping West Lafayette will finally make its mark as a Class II Indiana city.

More information and reference documents available at

State Street redevelopment map
The State Street Corridor Redevelopment Project will make dramatic, swift changes. Plans include the creation of a perimeter parkway by extending Williams Street to Harrison Street. More dramatically, the project will transform old State Road 26 into a vibrant two-way corridor with separate biking and pedestrian paths from the Wabash River to US 231. (Click to enlarge)


Check out the State Street Master Plan Wednesday

Purdue president Mitch Daniels and West Lafayette mayor John Dennis will present the master plan for West Lafayette’s State Street corridor Wednesday, March 11 at 2 p.m. in Purdue’s Fowler Hall. This Purdue news release has all the sexy details.

This is the first big public roll out of the $80+ million State Street plan, and it’s going to get a red carpet treatment. The Purdue Road School is a huge transportation conference held annually at the PMU and Stewart Center. Politicians, civil engineers, and many professors will be in attendance. Check it out if you get the chance!

Square Donuts: the Family Express Gateway to Purdue

A rendering of Family Express the CEO calls "iconic"
A rendering of the new West Lafayette Family Express, with a design the CEO calls “iconic” and “bank-like”

After 10 years of false starts and a failed development opportunity, the new northern gateway to West Lafayette and Purdue University is about to be an “iconic” gas station and convenience store. For a back story, read  Dave Bangert’s column: Family Express’ ‘iconic’ plan for old Smitty’s 

The CEO of Family Express has the audacity to call their design “iconic” and “bank-like”. A few important observations: this is a 2.4 acre lot in a residential area. That’s a lot of asphalt and bright parking lot lights. Have you seen how bright Mike’s Car Wash is shining down the residences of Huron Street? This development has huge issues, including environmental ones. What happens if neighboring Go Lo is run out of business by a shiny new gas station? With massive fuel tanks buried in the ground, once a property becomes a gas station, it is always a gas station. See 9th and Ferry downtown as an example of a filling station that vacated while the property sat empty for years and eventually became… another gas station. What happens if Family Express fails as a business? Again, once and always a gas station with hazardous tanks potentially wasting away and leaking into the ground. It is nearly impossible and/or prohibitively expensive to revert a lot from a gas station to another use. This is the North entrance to Purdue and the city of West Lafayette has spent a lot of money on Northwestern Avenue upgrades “with fingers crossed” that the right things will come along. Well, crossing fingers isn’t enough, particularly in a legal sense. There needs to overlays, a master plan, architectural guidance, and proactive planning in general for city development. I don’t fault Family Express. They bought a property that was already zoned Neighborhood Business and are holding up their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. However, I do question the West Lafayette city leadership, West Lafayette Development Office, and the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission. Where is the planningLaissez faire governance leaves us with investment property creeping into historic neighborhoods, monstrously out of scale buildings in single family zoning, and a West Lafayette neighborhood hoping for a a mythical, benevolent developer to come save the day. You can’t just hope the free market will do the right thing for our neighborhoods. What about storm water runoff? Already a major issue in the city, 2.4 acres of concrete and asphalt are going to compound the problem of combined sewage overflows. What about the issue of transparency with Northwestern Heights neighborhood association and surrounding areas? Where is the city leadership when it comes to explaining a deal falling apart (Lor Corp plan) that, albeit not a perfect one, at the least was a mixed use development that could’ve had a lasting, positive impact on the neighborhood. Finally, can you even imagine the traffic jams on game day with tailgaters waiting to gas up and buy supplies? Family Express certainly can. And that’s why we are staring down the face of their square donut gun.  When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Local arts and culture: Good outweighed not so good in 2014

There was no bigger arts story in 2014 than the “Small Spaces/Tiny Places” initiative.

In the late summer/early fall, downtown Lafayette got a huge dose of color and — let’s face it — more interest when dozens of artists led by Zach Medler created murals on several buildings as part of “Small Spaces.” In West Lafayette, Aaron Bumgarner launched himself as a top talent with a magnificent series of hand drawings interacting with nooks and crannies of Chauncey Hill to fuel “Tiny Places.” The works give the illusion of interaction with its surroundings.

However, negative actions and aspects of the project seemed to overshadow some brilliant work. Just weeks after the atrocious unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a portrait of a police officer in riot gear was put up — perhaps unwisely — facing the Lafayette Police Department station. The piece was quickly covered up then removed. The lowest point came, though, when Purdue University graduate art student Sagan Newham had her piece at Fifth and Ferry streets covered with white paint. Miscommunication and confusion ensued, and the talented young artist was one of the last people who knew the work was covered.

Back on the West Side, young artist Alexandria Monik adorned the wood panels covering the windows of the building that used to house Where Else? and a Subway location. Monik crafted a colorful, figurative series that fell short when compared to Bumgarner’s work and much of the “Small Spaces” output.

Despite some negativity, “Small Spaces/Hidden Places” showed guts and fortitude. It was daring and bold, and it was much needed in the arts scene. It’s not only the arts story of the year but one of the top local news stories in Greater Lafayette.

A "Tiny Places" piece by Aaron Bumgarner, from
A “Tiny Places” piece by Aaron Bumgarner, from

Here are other highs — and lows — in arts and culture in Greater Lafayette:

Local live music did not have an equivalent to “Small Spaces.” There was no act or show that had people talking for months. Top headlines included the sale of Foam City, one of the few all-ages venues in the area as well as a one-of-a-kind art space with a vibe that made it much more than just a venue. The whole place was a standout, unique experience. The downtown spot provided studio space for artists. It was a haven for fringe arts and experimental sounds. The local history of such all-ages efforts is littered with impactful spaces — Spud Zero, Door No. 3, Downtown Records — but the lifespan of such ventures is sadly short. Foam City bucked the trend by putting in a few years — in one form or another — of providing an interesting space for all ages and fans of all forms of music and art.

When Foam City ceased, many of the shows moved to The Spot Tavern. The Spot opened in late 2013 and has been a fantastic addition to the bar scene, but having the occasional rock, roots or experimental show truly adds to its overall appeal.

There was little competition for best new band of 2014. James Moon and the Third Floor Invention not only have an interesting, locally significant name, the band consisting of former (current?) members of Woodstove Flapjacks and Root Hog explore ’60s and ’70s country with a modern feel. Graham Parsons fans would be pleased and it’s about time a country band can get over without having to play “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Purdue Convocations had a tremendous year, especially the last few months. Bela Fleck returned to Loeb Playhouse and promptly sold it out. Convos gave the new Carnahan Hall a boost by bringing in jazz combo Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio. Aldana is one of the hottest national jazz acts and should be bigger this time next year. Aldana and her band played multiple sets throughout the weekend of Oct. 17 and 18. Up until that point, Carnahan Hall was only home to a few shows but since the fall, more bands — both local and beyond — are taking advantage of the sleek, new downtown facility.

Melissa Aldana
Melissa Aldana

Purdue Student Concert Committee had another rough year when Neon Trees canceled its scheduled Nov. 7 show due to illness. It seems this organization can’t catch a break with more misses than hits in recent years. However, Brad Paisley and Avett Brothers bookings in the spring could turn things around.

Friends of Bob had another strong year. The local music co-op’s best get was Pokey LaFarge on Nov. 21. The rootsy crooner and his band sold out Duncan Hall and then appeared at an after party at Avidity. Be sure to get your tickets for the return of Robbie Fulks with Chris Scruggs and others, Jan. 23 at Duncan Hall, as presented by Friendsof Bob. Tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 2.

From a neighborhood joint to one of the most elegant restaurants in the area, Parkside Seafood made a remarkable debut in the former, longtime space of Tom’s Parkside Deli. The new eatery finally gives seafood fans a place they can call home. If the world was right, Red Lobster would take a swim as Parkside became a town treasure almost overnight.

A dish at Parkside Seafood, from
A dish at Parkside Seafood, from

We did lose some amazing restaurants in 2014. The biggest loss was Uncorked, a fabulous wine bar with a strong menu that often explored unique, world cuisine. Specialty menus from almost every continent graced Uncorked’s tables.

Old school Lafayette folks will remember Bombay as the town’s first Indian restaurant. It shuttered in December after a few years run as a hookah bar. Good news: A new Indian restaurant called India Mahal looks to be opening in Bombay’s West Lafayette space in early 2015.
covered with white paint

The Mound Builders combine comics and metal for new release

Inviting someone to your band’s CD release show is met with mixed reactions in 2014:

“Awesome!” or …

“I can no longer play CD’s.” or …

“I think my mom still buys CD’s.”

Independent bands need to go the extra mile in order to effectively deliver physical versions of their music to potential listeners. Music must be formatted in interesting ways in the digital age. Lafayette metal act The Mound Builders is doing just that when it unveils its four-song EP, “Wabash War Machine.” The band will release an accompanying comic book that correlates with the EP’s tracks on Friday, Dec. 5.

To celebrate, The Mound Builders will perform with locals Lucifist and The Fantasies as well as Detroit “speed rock” band Against the Grain at 8 p.m. Friday at Lafayette Theater, 600 Main St.

“Wabash War Machine” is a tremendous nugget of metal power, recorded at Sonic Iguana studios in Lafayette and mixed and mastered by Dan Precision. The band continues to appeal to heavy and fast music connoisseurs with its blend of big Sabbath-friendly riffs, classic thrash speed and a dash of punk rock attitude.

The added appeal is the comic book. Each song gets two pages, one for the lyrics and another a one-page comic inspiration of the song. Illustrated by accomplished Boise, Idaho, artist Adam Black, the style harkens back to the old Heavy Metal series along with vintage EC horror comics. The comic also contains artwork from local illustrator Patrick Wetli and Chicago’s Ech as well as an original story by Mound Builders vocalist Jim Voelz.

The comic is a very cool, creative touch from one of the top dogs in the local hard rock/metal scene.

In 2014 and probably 2015, bands need to put in a little more effort than they used to just 10 years ago in terms making a buzz with recordings. Sometimes it’s in videos, pressing vinyl or investing in an original comic book. By combining its sonic force with a comic, The Mound Builders’ effort is impressive and appreciated.

The Mound Builders are (from left) Nate Malher, Robert Ryan Strawsma, Jason "Dinger" Brookhart, Brian Boszor and Jim Voelz.
The Mound Builders are (from left) Nate Malher (guitar), Robert Ryan Strawsma (bass), Jason “Dinger” Brookhart (drums), Brian Boszor (guitar) and Jim Voelz (vocals).

Bikes and Surveys – What is the view from your saddle?


What? Answer some questions? What’s my age? Rate my emotional responses from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree? Comments… Whether you are a skeptic, wide eyed idealist, or somewhere in between, there is no denying that organizations in the Greater Lafayette community want to know who you are and get your opinion while shaping potential projects. This fall I became aware of three different surveys from three separate organizations.

ONE: The city of Lafayette has created its first Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Bicycle Lafayette is very excited to be on the committee and actively involved in shaping a solid, comprehensive Bike & Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan is essentially an amendment to the Trails Master Plan. A new, more complete, master plan will include ideas for improvements to our current system of roadways.  Improvements to make it safer and more fun for pedestrians and cyclists as we make way through town. And YES, there is a survey! This one is up until December 14, 2014. Check it out, fill it out.

Two advisory committee meetings have been held so far and things are going well. Topics discussed include but are not limited to bicycle crash data, maintenance of roads and trails, and recommending parallel roads through neighborhoods as an alternative to arterial roads. Education programs for drivers and cyclists are also a top concern so we all understand how to happily coexist on the pavement.

TWO: Did you hear about the Parks and Recreation golf course reuse survey? Follow the link on their front page and you may still be able to give your input there.

THREE: There is also talk of creating a Bike Share in the Lafayette area. Engineering students at Purdue are partnering with the city to research the implementation of a bike share system. They too have a survey you are welcome to fill out!

All of these surveys are opportunities to share your thoughts. But, they are really the first step in a process to design and plan new spaces in Greater Lafayette. So take the time now. Then be sure to stay in tune with the projects as they progress. As I know from riding a bicycle, adjustments need to be continually made as I maintain my balance and gain momentum!

Lafayette is on the way to becoming a Bike Friendly Community. Be a part of setting the pace.

Written by Rose Kaczmarowski. Lafayette Bike & Pedestrian Advisory Committee member and Volunteer Activist – Bicycle Lafayette

Saturday: Spark. Inspire. Change. at TEDxLafayette

Are you interested in ideas that are worth spreading in Great Lafayette? The line-up for TEDxLafayette looks diverse and well-rounded. Changing Greater Lafayette for the better has been a hot topic for a few years now, so it will be interesting to see how these speakers think we are progressing and what ideas they have for the future.


Here is the press release:

Community Thinkers and Visionaries Invited to Spark, Inspire, Change at Local TEDx

Lafayette, Indiana – Surf around YouTube long and you’re bound to run into a 12-18 minute TED Talk video that’s gone viral. Now considered “the world’s biggest stage,” TED events have gained international notoriety for delivering award-winning talks on topics ranging from technology and entertainment to science and global issues. 

On November 22, Greater Lafayette will host TEDxLafayette, an independently organized TED conference highlighting local thought leaders and community activists.

Eleven presenters will stimulate creative and innovative ideas related to technology, community, and education in the Greater Lafayette area and worldwide. The theme for the day is “Spark. Inspire. Change.”  Each presenter is given 12-18 minutes to convey his/her perspective and spark further conversations. Presentation topics are intentionally kept secret until the day of the event.

TEDxLafayette presenters are:

Zachary Baiel is the Director of Customer Relations at Spensa Technologies. As an assiduous citizen, he serves on the New Chauncey Neighborhood Leadership Team; the City of West Lafayette Housing and Maintenance Appeals Board, the West Lafayette Friends of the Library, and the WLPL Foundation board.

David Bowker is the Director of the Office of Future Engineers at Purdue University. He directs recruiting for the College of Engineering and teaches Academic & Career planning.

Beth Carroll is an Instructor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Purdue University, former small business owner and creator of Small Shopper.

Ed Finkler is a Developer at LegalServer and has served as web lead and security researcher at The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS). He is co-host of the Development Hell podcast.

Joe Ruhl is a Golden Apple Award-winning Teacher of Biology, Genetics, and Science Research courses at Jefferson High School. He was honored at the White House as Indiana’s recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Ashley G. Scott is a Top 10 Under 40 Greater Lafayette award recipient and Operations Manager & Community Curator for MatchBOX Coworking Studio. Shee Creator and Co-Organizer for the Black Professionals of Greater Lafayette, and founder of Curly In College.

Kris Taylor is founder of Evergreen Leadership and author of The Leader’s Guide to Turbulent Times. In addition to her coaching and leadership development work, she teaches entrepreneurship at Purdue.

Keith Watson is Information Security architect for Purdue University, a host on the Eyes on Privacy podcast and co-author on A Guide to Facebook Security.

Double Helix Collective, an interdisciplinary new media collective that explores the visual poetics of the intersection of technology, sound, music, live-drawing, video, shadow and ritual. The collective features Sabrina Lastman (vocalist, songwriter, voice educator & Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner) & Petronio Bendito (intermedia artist & Associate Professor of Visual Communications Design at Purdue University).

Briagha McTavish, a singer/songwriter earning award recognition on NPR’s “In Search of Song” competition and the SAMI Shirley Martin Scholarship for Young Songwriters and Blooming-Tunes Songwriting Competition.

“We are ecstatic to see such a great diversity of speakers and performers sharing their stories and experience related to science, technology, art, diversity and business,” said Joe Seaman, President and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce. “There are so many fascinating visionaries, thinkers, and teachers in our community. The TEDx event is the perfect venue to cast a spotlight on their work in our community.”


The speakers were carefully selected by a volunteer committee led by Nelu Lazar, community activist founder of Lafayettech and K12TECH, engineering lead, technology evangelist and developer, and Executive Director of TEDxLafayette. 


“We’ve invited local thought leaders and performers to share their diverse perspectives. Sparking engaging conversation and inspiring positive change is the goal of our first TEDx event in Lafayette,” said Nelu. “We’re excited to highlight amazing local talent and offer the opportunity for us to see and hear about wonderful ideas and powerful actions that take off and grow from within our community to better educate and change the world as we know it,” he added. 


TEDx organizing committee members are Adi Ben-Yehoshua, Brian Bettag, Matthew Brown, Kitty Campbell, Nicole Gebhardt, Nelu Lazar, Kevin Maxwell, Joanna Retherford, Julie Rubsam, Koa Spencer, Marci Spitznagle, Michael Wilson. Sponsors include Greater Lafayette Commerce, Lafayette Urban Enterprise Association, All-Fired Up, C-Factor Marketing, Creative Inc, ISPhotographic, Time Keepers Productions, and MatchBOX Coworking Studio. 


TEDxLafayette will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at The Civic Theatre in downtown Lafayette immediately followed by a surprise-filled After Party at the MatchBOX CoWorking Studio. 

Tickets are all-inclusive $45 each and may be purchased online at Student prices and VIP Passes are also available. Conference attendance is limited to 100 people. Ticket price includes access to the TEDx conference and the super After Party. Both events will feature engaging entertainment, food and beverages.


For a full list of speakers, latest news, and to reserve your spot at the event, go to




About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED‘s media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

About Civic Theater, the hosting venue

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is an 83 year old community theatre. Performances are at the Historic Monon Depot Theatre, located in the heart of Downtown Lafayette. In addition to multiple thrilling productions annually, Civic Theatre has an extensive education and outreach program. More information on all of Civic Theatre’s programs can be found at

For more information, contact sources:

TEDxLafayette Organizing Committee

Nelu Lazar, TEDxLafayette Executive Director

Purdue, Lafayette & West Lafayette, Indiana: All things Weird, Wild, and Interesting in the Arts, Music, Food & Culture. Also featuring discussions on #LafCoC & a free Community Calendar.