At last Thursday's Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) meeting, at which the proposed development on North College Avenue was the scheduled topic, several people on behalf of BRVA gave presentations. Elizabeth Marshall, a BRVA member apparently involved in plans related to TIF monies, advised that TIF would not be a topic for discussion, but would be a subject of future discussions and there would be opportunities to weigh in on the TIF then. (At least that is what the minutes of the meeting note, although I, and others, have questioned the accuracy of the minutes. This part was accurate: she punted on the topic of the TIF, just not at the point of the meeting the minutes allege.) We were treated to a slide show about "Envision Broad Ripple," a plan that took place over the course of four years and that we, who did not participate in its formulation, are now to feel guilty for failing to know such formulation was taking place. Then a question-and-answer period was opened. At the outset, a moderator warned everyone to be civil---and that the purpose of the time was to ask questions, not make statements.
I made a short statement before my question---that TIFs are outlawed in California (where they were created) and have decimated communities across the country---then asked how we could vote down the development on North College. For an answer to my question I was told people need to attend the meeting on June 13. That answer was not completely true.
The Land Use Development committee (LUD) usually meets on a specific Tuesday each month at the Broad Ripple Methodist Church. Their meeting this week was changed to the former Broad Ripple branch of the Marion County Public Library in Broad Ripple Park. Also, the agenda of the meeting was not released until late that afternoon. The agenda consisted only of the proposed development on North College Avenue. This was a meeting in which the committee would vote either to recommend or not recommend the proposed project should proceed. That is an important vote now. Attendees---who would not have been there but for several people, after having learned after 4:00 what the agenda would be, firing off e-mails and texts, Broad Ripple's arrival to a sort of "Arab spring"---were told the meeting was only for the committee's discussion of the proposed project. Comments from the members of the public would not be allowed. (Initially members of the public were not allowed seats, as in chairs, either.) Apparently, when faced with people who opposed the development, the committee decided to delay its vote.
BRVA is an unelected, private body membership in which is restricted only to those with an "interest" in Broad Ripple. Presumably a corporation organized under the laws of another country or an individual from outside Indiana could belong if that person has an "interest" in Broad Ripple. Such an organization should have no control over how our community is developed. Paul Ogden, at Ogden on Politics, reprinted Yanqui Mike's excellent piece on BRVA. The reader also should go to the Facebook page for Say No to TIFs in Broad Ripple.
If people are not allowed to make statements at public meetings, their views are blunted. One person's question may imply that person's view, but the implication is for later misinterpretation by a person who takes minutes. When no one is allowed to speak, any illusion of meaningful input is gone.
More importantly, this all has the look of a decision already made and people going through the motions of allowing public input. As Judge Roy Bean would have had it: "Got anything to say before I find you guilty?" Do we have anything to say before the monstrosity on North College is approved?
Finally, of what value will a parking garage ON THE OTHER SIDE OF COLLEGE AVENUE have after a new garage is installed. People will not want to cross College, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, with its heavy traffic. They will want to stay on the east side of the street. I guess Mayor Ballard's buddy won't make the money he thought he would. Will he now sue the City?