Airport reveals 'Gateway Strategic Plan'

Submitted photoEntrance: Bright paint, unique letters to designate a "Terre Haute gateway" are among a Gateway Strategic Plan for Terre Haute Regional Airport.

Adding a 15-foot-tall monument marking Terre Haute as well as an art sculpture, along with annual plants and flowers off ramps of Interstate 70 onto Indiana 46/U.S. 40, are among beautifications proposals in a Gateway Strategic Plan for Terre Haute Regional Airport.

The Gateway plan is intended to present a coordinated planning effort to protect the airport’s assets and airspace, yet also encourage development along the Indiana 46/U.S. 40 corridor. It plan looks at three areas: development options, gateway beautification and airport overlay zoning.

The plan was unveiled to the public in March and on Tuesday a final version of the plan was unveiled. One change for beautification could mean moving up a concept of painting the I-70 bridge over Indiana 46/U.S. and adding big letters spelling “T E R R E  H A U T E,” along with some landscaping trees. That idea had been slated for a later phase 3, but could be moved up to be done as one of the first improvements.

“That approach is very vanilla. There is not any idea that you have driven into a unique district,” said Monica Newhouse-Rodriguez, managing principal of Newhouse and Associates LLC, which serves as the airport’s consultant for projects and federal funding.

“It would be relatively easy as it is just paint and letters, but does identify that you are in Terre Haute,” Newhouse-Rodriguez said. Another change, from a public suggestion in March, is to add an a unique sculpture north of a proposed 15-foot Terre Haute gateway monument sign.

The most important part of the plan is creating a new airport overlay zoning. It will involve changing the zoning codes in Terre Haute and updating the zoning requirements for Vigo County to protect the airport’s runway approaches and departure spaces.

As an example, Newhouse-Rodriguez said the airport was fortunate that Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson was willing to redesign a proposed casino so that it does not impact the airport’s longest runway. The city and county would not have had the ability to require such changes under current zoning, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

“It highlights the need for the city and county to adopt updated protections. The state has some state required protections that need to be included as well,” in new local zoning law, she said.

“That is something we will aggressively push for and hope we can get that through this year,” Newhouse-Rodriguez said. “That is the most important for airport longevity and preservation of if being an economic engine, that nothing is built in such as way that it limits the airport’s ability to operate or attract additional companies. That is why this is really critical,” for the airport, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

Linda Cooper of Terre Haute came to the hearing, saying she has “always been interested in the airport being more functional. I was interested to see what their plans were, so I am kinda excited about that. I thought this would happen once I heard the casino was going to be built,” Cooper said.

Cooper has a special interest in the airport. In 1990, when Pilisbury Inc. closed its Terre Haute plant and Cooper lost her job, she tried to set up a gift shop at the airport. While her idea did not come to fruition, Cooper said she thinks the airport corridor will be busy once a new casino opens. She also supports an idea of adding sculptures at the I-70 intersection toward the airport.

“The sculptures in our area are wonderful and there are multiple, so why not put one at the airport,” Cooper said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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