Civil Discourse Now

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BRVA should not have political power to give a "blessing" to any development.

   On “Property Lines” at the IBJ, a blog by Scott Olson announced: “A local developer plans to build a five-story office building on the site of a closed American Legion post in Broad Ripple.  At 85 feet, the ambitious project would be the tallest in the village, even topping by 10 feet Browning Investment, Inc.’s proposed retail-and-apartment development on College Avenue near the Central Canal.”  
   Olson continues: “The Broad Ripple Village Association’s [BRVA] land-use and development committee gave the project its blessing July 22.  The next step is to seek city approval to break ground in November, with an April 2016 completion.”
   People should realize there are several aspects of this new proposed wrinkle in Broad Ripple omitted from the story. One would be the acrimonious decision to sell the Legion post. The post was not “closed,” sitting dormant, waiting for someone to come along and develop on the site.  Rather, as I understand from conversations with post members, someone wanted to offer a lot of bucks for the property for development.  A lot of members opposed the sale.  One question that arose was: who gets the money? This makes the matter a little different from the “ambitious project”—i.e., the Whole Foods store and apartment complex—that has been proposed for the place where the once-Minton’s Shell station stands. The Legion was open.    
   Another part of the story mislead the reader. After all, the “post had been there about 40 years, but another American Legion that’s active on North College Avenue sits within blocks of the Westfield Boulevard location.”
   That would make sense, but for the differences between the two posts—the College Avenue post only is a meeting place with no restaurant or bar. People can show up for meetings on College Avenue, but they could do that AND have a few drinks and dine on Westfield.
   One should not worry. This is not development without a plan.  
   Another aspect of the story is who, or what, has given its “blessing” to the project. We are told that “the village’s master plan, Envision Broad Ripple, calls for buildings in the area to rise as high as 100 feet, or eight stories, whichever is less.”
   There was no referendum of residents of Broad Ripple on this “master plan” called “Envision Broad Ripple.”  
   BRVA is described, on its web page, as a “nonprofit neighborhood association composed of residents and businesses located within or near the northside area known as Broad Ripple.  Founded in 1969, the BRVA is in its 43rd year of serving the community.  The BRVA is the oldest and largest volunteer organization actively working to improve the quality of life in Broad Ripple.”
   Individual membership costs twenty-five dollars ($25.00).  What is called “basic business” membership is One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00).
   There also is no definition of “Broad Ripple”—described as “the northside area known as Broad Ripple.”  Broad Ripple once was a village. People from other parts othe State think of most of the north side as “Broad Ripple.”
   What should alarm residents of Broad Ripple is that this organization makes decisions more appropriately made by elected political representatives. Our City’s administration is bad enough, but at least we have the prospects, next year, of voting for someone other than Ballard. One always can hope there will be an end to the pay-to-play cycle.
   We are told of this plan, “Envision Broad Ripple.” I was chided by a BRVA member for not attending to 28, or however many meetings, BRVA held to discuss its “Vision.” If someone had told me BRVA had the power to impose its “Vision” on the place where I live and work, I would have asked: “Who gave you that authority?”
   As I understand a central aspect of the “Vision,” BRVA wants aims for “congestion”—the BRVA’s term, not one I picked out—as a dynamic for area development. If you have tried to drive east-to-west or west-to-east on a Saturday afternoon—or weekday afternoon or weekday morning or, hell, nearly any time—on Broad Ripple Avenue, you appreciate how congested the area has become. The reduction of Broad Ripple Avenue from four lanes to two lanes with bicycle lanes narrowed traffic.  
   Let me note: a detached lane, such as is east of Keystone Avenue, might have taken away one lane of traffic, made bike riders safer with a curb or some barrier separating them from traffic, and not been such a hammer of “congestion.”
   Unfortunately, voters did not have a chance to give an “up or down”—“yes” or “no”—vote to determine the matter. Maybe the Mayor made the final decision, but the bike lanes, one BRVA member proudly has said, were his idea.
   Membership in BRVA is voluntary—and costs money. When have we been required to pay money to vote on matters that affect our lives? Besides, with all the TIF money at stake, and forces so well-entrenched, with a definition of potential members as “residents and businesses located within the northside area known as Broad Ripple,” any vote of the BRVA can come out the way in which dominant businesses desire.
   And when did we need more office space in Indianapolis, much less Broad Ripple? The lack of any urban planning with goals other than quick-profit has resulted in vacant office space, particularly in that northside area of Indianapolis known as Castleton.
   New apartments have been shoe-horned into the area once occupied by McNamara florists. Chipotle’s—a chain known nationally for progressive stands and good treatment of employees, but one that has chosen to develop in a bad specific place—is on the first floor of a tiny space that rises several stories at the nightmare intersection/congestion at Broad Ripple and Winthrop (that becomes Westfield Boulevard within half a block). Someone was given a variance for parking on that one. The situation there already was bad. East-bound traffic on Broad Ripple has to stop for pedestrians on the trail crossing.  If a vehicle turns left off of Winthrop and the driver has to stop because another vehicle has stopped for pedestrians, the situation can be gnarly. People have been hit there.
   Who am I to question the “Vision” for the place where I have lived for 27 years? The place where I have located my place of business for 25 years? After all, I could have paid the membership fee and joined BRVA.  But we should not have to purchase the opportunity to vote on something—bone-headed, mostly-TIF-fueled development—that affects our lives.
   BRVA’s “Vision” obviously did not extend to how to see around corners, or how to deal with angry drivers especially on Saturday afternoons.
   I’d suggest everyone join BRVA, show up for a meeting, stake it over, and vote out the leadership. Unfortunately, that would take a lot of money. And the money, and plenty of it, is on the other side. New members probably would show up at the next meeting and vote out whatever had been obtained. After all, what is “near” the “north side area known as Broad Ripple”? What is “Broad Ripple”?
   Congestion brings crime. People who mug or rob or rape like parking garages.
   And any time taxes are raised, and the purpose of the raise is public safety, a radar system goes off in Colts’ and Pacers’ headquarters and the City’s billionaire sports franchise owners say: “We need that money.” And we get no cops.

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Comment by City Beat Blogger on August 1, 2014 at 8:21am

The only way Broad Ripple is ever going to work correctly is to bring back the Irish canal diggers, put them up in the original hotel, and kick everyone else out of the area.  Obviously the area needs a whole lot less people, needs no one actually living or working there, needs wagons instead of cars, and if we limited occupancy to the aforementioned canal diggers, we could eliminate every bar that charged more then $1 a beer.

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