What does this mean?
There is a widespread sense that the community does not exhibit pride of place and ownership to an acceptable level—nor does it perform basic upkeep in a manner that instills confidence. Public properties, private properties, and the spaces that connect them—major corridors, gateways, streets, parks, etc.—send an overall message that the community has low standards for itself. There are certainly exceptions to this impression, but prevailing conditions raise an important question: If the community doesn’t seem interested or capable of investing in itself, why should anybody else (potential businesses and residents included)?
In the context of TogetherDM, ‘quality of place’ has a broad definition and will mean different things at different scales. But it all boils down to one’s experience of their community and how the physical environment influences that experience:
Block-level: Absence of litter, condition of private property, condition of streets and sidewalks, quality of public fixtures, attention to visible details large and small
Neighborhood or corridor level: Sense of arrival and identity, condition and quality of amenities and assets (parks, schools, etc.), consistency of property conditions and built form, apparent capacity of residents or businesses to manage their shared spaces
Rural area: Quality of rural atmosphere and character, depending on context (pastoral, agricultural, small community)
Downtown or Main Streets: Quality and vibrancy of civic spaces, sense of arrival and identity
Why is this a priority?
Low standards are a self-fulfilling prophecy. They discourage people within the community from working to improve the quality of their homes, neighborhoods, and civic spaces, and they discourage people and businesses with numerous options in nearby counties from moving in. Over time, this dampens the community’s tax base—and with it, its fiscal capacity to improve and maintain itself.
What do we know about this, or what are we trying to find out?
Residential Property Condition Survey
A 2021 condition survey found that 23% of residential properties in the City of Muncie, the county's incorporated towns, and unincorporated residential clusters show signs of moderate or severe physical distress. These conditions have an influence on the quality of place experienced by residents and visitors.
A 2021 assessment of Delaware County's major corridors and gateways, which considered a range of factors and the overall urban, suburban, or rural context of the corridors and gateways, found that 57% rate poorly or very poorly for quality of place. The most significant factors in these low ratings are poor quality building and site design, streetscape design, and road conditions.
Street/Road Maintenance Analysis
A 2020 assessment of roadway pavement conditions in Delaware County found that 34% of the county's streets and roadways need reconstruction and 29% need major rehabilitation. This represented a slight improvement from a 2016.
Muncie's park system suffers from decades of disinvestment. While funding has been increased for parks in recent years, the per capita spending levels in 2021 by the City of Muncie for parks maintenance ($24) was well below median spending levels for cities of similar size in the U.S. ($88).