Ballard Praises LSAC's Efforts

(posted Apr 1)

Mayor Greg Ballard offered the city's support for the Lafayette Square Area Coalition to follow its plan to become an international corridor. Ballard spoke to the coalition members for the first time as Mayor at their March 31 meeting. Ballard has attended meetings in the past during his mayoral campaign.

Ballard said there is no other area in the city like the Lafayette Square area that has a rich multi-cultural diversity, and probably the highest concentration of independently owned businesses in the state. He talked about the opportunities for immigrant business owners. "If you're looking for the American dream, this is the area to make it happen."

He talked about the importance of positioning Indianapolis in the global market. He plans to visit Brazil and the United Kingdom this year.

He said since the Lugar era, the city was built from the bottom up with coalition groups and volunteers that eventually evolved into public-private partnerships to transform the community.

He reminded the group to be visionaries "The future may not look like the past. Retail may not be the best use."

Part of the future may mean curtailing north-south corridors on the Westside.

"You are not going to like my answer," he told Jo Ellen Dotlich. Dotlich talked about the importance of not vacating Georgetown Road to continue access to the Lafayette Square Area.

Although the mayor recognizes the north-south corridor problem, he thinks it is important to close Georgetown Road for buffer protection since 9/11. "I was shocked that Georgetown Road has stayed open. It's an incident waiting to happen."

Dotlich responded that a report came out stating that the IMS is not in an immediate threat for terrorist activity.

He agreed that it doesn't have the visibility of the Super Bowl, but he expressed a concern about the vulnerability of an incident inside the track. Although he did not name specific places, he said there are a couple of other places in the city where he says "oh my" to the vulnerability.

Ballard doubted if the F-1 race will return, which will impact the city's ability to promote itself as an international city in the area of sports. He did say that Indianapolis is gaining international awareness in other areas, citing the Heartland Film Festival and the International Violin Competition