Civil Discourse Now

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Tully's Sunday column---cheerleader for bad development and those who love TIFs (and for saying this Whole Foods can try to sue me; make my day)

   Matthew Tully’s column in the Sunday edition of the shell of the former Indianapolis Star depressed me.
   I was not depressed about his recitation of aspects of crime in Broad Ripple. I have been depressed about crime here for a while.  His reference to a person’s smartphone app showing red over the Broad Ripple area—“indicating [Broad Ripple’]s depressing crime statistics.  That, he said, is what potential home buyers will see”—did not surprise me.  Crime has been on the uprise around the City.
   What depressed me was his conclusion that people in Broad Ripple need to let go and just let the development people move in here, somewhat reminiscent of then-Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight’s opinion on how women should deal with rape.
   Tully decries attitudes of Broad Ripple residents who resist some of the ideas for change developers would like to bring to the area: “Still, residents and businesses have fought a proposed development that would replace the [former Shell gas station at 62nd and College] with an apartment building and, possibly, an upscale grocery so fiercely that you’d think a junkyard was destined for the site.”
   Tully ignores some facts about the problems of Broad Ripple, the proposed solutions, and why so many long-time residents oppose the proposed solutions.
   1) The proposal to develop the former Shell station site—and raze nearby apartment buildings—to make way for a Whole Foods store and nifty apartment building with balconies overlooking the canal has major problems. We already have a natural food store—organic grocery, however one wishes to refer to it—in Broad Ripple. The proposed apartment building would add to congestion, with a lot more condensed living. After all, 80-some apartments would be placed where there had been some parking lots, three low-density apartment buildings, and some parking lots. Congestion is a problem for people who live in Broad Ripple.
   “Congestion,” however, is a goal of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s “vision” for Broad Ripple. People—a majority of the people who live here, not the people who pay dues to BRVA—oppose the development for these reasons.
   2) Tully writes: “It’s easy to find vacant storefronts, including on key intersections.” I guess that would mean the vacant space in the parking garage at College and Broad Ripple Mayor Ballard gifted to one of his campaign contributors. The garage is little-used and its location was poorly-planned. But the Mayor’s pal needed the money. Across the street is a space that has been vacant for a few months. For a while Scholars Inn was located there. There are two small vacant spaces a few doors down, where the barber shop and Paco’s used to be. Otherwise, spaces on Broad Ripple Avenue seem to fill back up as soon as they are vacant.
   A more difficult problem for businesses who seek to live here might be the taxes.
   Tax rates have been jacked in Indianapolis so high that one merchant with whom I spoke two years ago, and who since has gone out of business, talked about property tax bills for the building that were outrageous. A lot of those taxes have gone to the Pacers, the Colts, the Mayor’s pals, and even a would-be cricket field—not to the police protection promised by then-candidate Greg Ballard in 2007.    
   3) Tully acknowledges that “additional police can immediately drive down crime.” That is a great idea. Instead of bestowing so much money on the Colts that Jim Irsay can pass out hundred-dollar bills to fans at the Colts’ training camp, we should hire more police. The VP on North College might still need the bullet-proof glass enclosure recently installed for its clerks, but overall the violence would be stemmed.
   4) Most depressing is what seems to be Tully’s lack of knowledge about the ways in which the City has funded such areas of competition for Broad Ripple “from the likes of Mass Ave. or Fountain Square.”  I was unaware there was a competition between areas of the City. If there is such a competition, we should realize how some of the funding has gone to Broad Ripple’s just-named competitors or “the now-thriving College Avenue intersections of 54th and 52nd streets.” A lot of those monies—and the real plum, what really drove developers to want to plant Whole Foods in Broad Ripple—came from TIFs. “TIF” stands for Tax Increment Financing. TIFs were invented in California in the 1950s. They had such a negative impact there that they no longer are allowed. They were created to spur development in areas where, otherwise, no one would develop—kind of like the Meadows here. Indianapolis is on a path to increased financial difficulties with its embrace of TIFs. Our City’s leaders are college Freshmen given credit cards. The citizens of Indianapolis are the parents left to pay the later bills.
   There needs to be more balance to development in Broad Ripple. That development should occur as a result more of market forces, than development boosted in steroid-esque fashion by TIFs. Merchants in Broad Ripple are in competition with merchants in other areas of the City—to some extent. However, the aim of this Mayor’s administration—that so any of us hope will end on January 1, 2016—is to set up little neighborhood areas for quick development for his buddies. The development is fueled by TIFs. Later, the funds dry up. It sure was fun on that zip line for a few seconds, but the bill will be paid for a long time—by us.
   Tully should be less of a cheerleader for people who seek to “brand” Broad Ripple—really? We need to “brand” the place? Those are sentiments of a couple of BRVA people—and check into his facts more.
   As the character of Deep Throat (played by Hal Holbrook) in “All the President’s Men”: “Follow the money.” That’s all Matthew Tully needs to do. Look where it goes, look where it originates, understand that eventually it will end up in investments in Barbados, then focus on the fight against this bovine excrement sort of development popular with Ballard and his crew. We need long-term development of things not so flashy—sewers, bridges, schools, police.
   Of course, in ten years, we get the scoreboard at whatever, this week, they call the building where the Pacers play. We can hock that then and maybe get the guy who played a mall cop to patrol Broad Ripple Ave.—is that the right reference? There’s “Mass Ave.” so is it “Broad Ripple Ave.” to be chic?—and sign autographs for drunken kids who don’t know who he is. That makes about as much sense as the Whole Foods development.
   By the way—Whole Foods? Go ahead. Sue me. I just exercised my First Amendment (United States Constitution) and Article 1, various sections (Indiana Constitution) to free expression. If that corporation chooses to file a SLAPP suit, I will take appropriate legal action of my own.
   Those are the forces Tully advocates, whether he realizes it.

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Comment by City Beat Blogger on July 28, 2014 at 9:08am

didn't the good old market forces give us  the proliferation of bars and the decade long deserted Shell station?

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