The Hoosierist: Making a Stand

Rogue lemonade vendors, car show enthusiasts, and an empty civic plaza. Ask The Hoosierist.
Q: If I live next to the Monon Trail, can my kid set up a lemonade stand alongside it that caters to runners and walkers?
A: If it’s Lemonade Day Indianapolis (May 21), then yeah, knock yourself out. This annual event teaches kids about capitalism by allowing them to set up lemonade stands in public places, including city parks like the Monon Trail. But try to do the same thing on park grounds any other day of the year, and you’ll get a lesson not in capitalism but in how hard it is to do anything on government land without filling out lots of forms. “They would need permits from the Department of Code Enforcement, and the Board of Health would probably get involved,” says Maureen Nelson Faul, senior communications manager for Indy Parks and Recreation. That’s because a lemonade stand (or any other small vendor) is all fun and games until someone gets food poisoning.

Q: Last year, the Indianapolis motor speedway hosted the Bloomington Gold Corvettes Show, which kicked a lot of butt. Why don’t they do a bunch of car shows at the track?
A: For the same reason the IMS doesn’t host “a bunch of flea markets” in the infield or “a bunch of demolition derbies” on the oval. The century-old racing facility has acquired a certain gravitas (in spite of the fact that it’s one of the most puked-on places in the world), so the events it hosts must meet a certain standard. The Bloomington Gold Corvettes Show gets a pass because it’s the biggest of its kind in the country. And the fact that Chevy, maker of all those sweet Corvettes, also builds IndyCar engines probably doesn’t hurt either.

Q: What ever happened to that deluxe playground they were going to build in front of the City-County Building downtown?  
A: The city still loves the idea, which would turn the empty plaza (save for civil servants on their cigarette breaks and perps hustling in for court dates) into something a little more welcoming. Originally, plans called for an “urban playground” complete with a splash fountain, skating rink, and foosball and Ping-Pong tables. But contractors bidding on the work came in well north of the $10 million the city wants to spend, so the proposal is undergoing a process very familiar to city government: downsizing. Even so, we should see progress in 2016. The project is a central part of a larger push to develop the Market East district, so it can’t fail. “It’s not a question of if, but when,” says John Bartholomew, public information officer for the Department of Metropolitan Development. “We still hope to make it this year.”