SPEED Questions SRC Plans

(posted May 21)

A group of SPEED (Speedway Population Encourages Equal Development) members made their first public appearance by raising concerns over a leasing arrangement with the Speedway Redevelopment Authority. Despite the comments and concerns over the lease, which has a maximum amount of $62,755,000, the commission approved the resolution 5-0. The resolution did not contain an exact financing plan because Executive Director Scott Harris thinks they are about six weeks away from having a more concrete plan. The SRC members repetitively told the remonstrators that a special benefits tax would not be used because the tax increment financing revenues would support the bond payments.

The lack of financial information made it difficult for remonstrators to object to. The SRC did not have an economic impact study or tax increment revenue projections to cover different bonding scenarios. Harris told the Speedway Navigator that "at this point we don't have an economic impact study other than the figures developed as a part of the original master plan. We are developing the schedule in reference to the financing."

SRC member Steve Bishop said he had better things to do than to lie to the public over the issue and that TIF revenues would be used to pay for the bond. He said it would be wrong to assume that as soon as the bond resolution is passed a special benefits tax would be implemented.

Remonstrators also had other issues. Jo Ellen Dotlich said she was tired of Speedway Industrial Park (SIP) being ignored as not one of the biggest taxpayers in Speedway.

She said SIP has been around for 50 years with 12 businesses employing 300 people. "We should be included in the main business as Allison Transmission, Praxair, Marathon and IMS. Not once have I heard this commission say this is one of the biggest taxpayers in Speedway. Personally I am tired of being left out." Dotlich vocalized her displeasure that if a special benefits tax would be imposed to fund the bond issue it would mean that the businesses on the acquisition list would be funding their future eminent domain proceedings.

Patsy Norris requested an economic and neighborhood impact study to prove that closing Georgetown Road and realigning 16th Street corridor are practical. She wanted to know what the economic gain is by changing the road structure. Norris was concerned that the price of gas would discourage people from coming to Main Street. Without some guarantee that business would thrive the members of SPEED are wondering if businesses would want to take a chance moving into an area that does not want to do an economic study.

Erin Dotlich wanted the SRC to come forward to ask for SPEED's ideas. She blamed the SRC for failing to share information as the cause for rumors.

She raised issues concerning a brother of a redevelopment commissioner being awarded a contract by the commission. SRC minutes state that American Environmental was one of the firms receiving part of a $230,000 EPA Brownfield Study grant. Ron Fisher abstained from the vote. Don Fisher, Ron's twin brother, is the president of American Environmental.

Dotlich raised other issues about a town councilor owning Main Street property.

Township assessor's records show councilor Jeff Hartman and business partners as owners of Main Street property. Data shows that  the property was purchased September 2, 2005 for $60,000. The SRC's June 1, 2007 acquisition list indicates the property's estimated value at $100,000. The property was on the multiple listing system for sale for $109,900 from November 2006 to June 2007.

Jo Ellen Dotlich asked for Commissioner Ron Fisher's resignation since his wife is also a town councilor. She contends that no ties should exist between the council and the commission. She said that if Mr. Fisher does not resign, she would seek the resignation of Eileen Fisher. If neither resign, she'll will ask the council to disband the SRC to form a new commission.

Joyce Bishop also expressed concern that the appointed redevelopment authority members also have the power to levy a tax. She was concerned about the redevelopment plan if Indianapolis is successful with consolidation of the town's school, library, and public safety departments.

Jim Doughtery, Credit Union One branch manager at 4027 W. 10th Street, said the aerial photo used to depict the proposed Holt Road plans show the road going through the old parking lot, which is where the new building is now.

Doughtery said he had tried to contact the SRC members through the website, but to no avail. The comment started a tit-for-tat about commissioners returning calls. SRC members questioned him as to who he contacted. He said he tried to email those on the website but he could not remember the names. Commissioner Bill Jones said he was in the Speedway phone book and all the commissioners live in town. Neither Jones nor Fisher are listed in the website directory. Doughtery said he even called the street department but was unable to get any answers. Doughtery became perplexed as to why he was being challenged whether he used the website or phone book to contact the commissioners.