The Sky Is Not Falling Over Speedway
SRC misrepresented in local press

Hoosiers aren't nationally recognized for much, but a few things endure regarding our state and its residents: college basketball is huge; we have lots of corn; we are home to the largest racing event in the nation; and…we despise change. Regardless of our hometown, these themes tie us together, define us, and in the case of the last item-regarding change-can keep us from achieving the kind of success and prosperity our state deserves.

I am not a life-long resident, but I do live here now. I am tied to this place, like many of you, by family and the 500. Since childhood, I have visited this place every year for family reunions and the race. Each year, my cousins, aunts, and uncles from Speedway would marvel at how much I had grown and how much I had changed. Likewise, I watched the town change over the years. I remember this place seemed like a gleaming nook of safety, friendly folks, well-kept homes and businesses. Today, this is still a great place to live and raise a family, but much has changed, as we all know. And for the most part, people are still friendly…unless you bring up the Speedway Redevelopment Commission (SRC).

As a new resident of this place, my head spins when considering the current debate over prospective plans for redevelopment. I see and understand both sides. What I don't understand is the distasteful smear campaign that has been launched against the SRC and the total lack of rebuttal from the public. What is going on in this town? Are you really afraid the sky is falling, Speedway? Since no one else has the guts to do it, I am here to paint a truer picture of Speedway's current situation. Although some shamelessly dishonest but vocal members of the local media would like you to believe the SRC's plans will destroy your hometown, the truth of the matter is the SRC is offering us a way out of the downward spiral we are facing-a spiral promising real destruction if something isn't done.

If we continue on the current path, if we do nothing, Speedway won't be a town at all for much longer. Already, we are under the authority of Uni-Gov, which means many things we do as a town must first go through Indianapolis. True, we receive services like road and natural resource management. True, we have someone who represents our interests in the City-County Council. We also retain our own schools, fire and police force. However, I would argue that we are in danger of losing the entire town to Indianapolis consolidation in the future, as Indy needs more land area to compete with other metro areas and to keep from losing population and businesses. Unfortunately, this is likely to happen given our current economic and social decline. Before long, we may need the consolidated services that Indy can provide; in turn, we will be forced to forfeit what is left of the unique style and quality of life that only exists in this place. Do you think Indianapolis cares if Speedway is sacrificed for city improvement? It's very doubtful. With no mayor and little pull at the state level, the only hope for Speedway is to act now with the local powers we still retain.

The SRC is in the position to turn things around for our town. They have worked diligently to create plans that reflect the town's collective vision. They have provided ample opportunity for residents to contribute ideas. They have offered a listening ear to public concerns and treated Speedway residents with respect. Most amazingly, they have remained professional and maintained composure in the face of incredible criticism. For example, contrary to some rumors circulating, the SRC cannot force, will not force, and has not forced any resident or business to sell property. Refusing to be daunted by terrible, often untruthful, allegations, the SRC is marching forward with their plans for redevelopment. They are not developers or real estate agents; they have no desire to personally profit from the redevelopment endeavor. These are just ordinary citizens like you and me who understand the danger facing Speedway and who are trying, against all odds, to save this place. We ought to commend them.

Finally, there are two options facing our community; both options involve change. We are uncomfortable with the changes already taking place before our eyes: increased crime, less local business, more vacant and dilapidated buildings. However, if we don't do anything, we will only see more changes like these. Then, Speedway's only option to protect its residents will be consolidation with Indianapolis; however, by that time, there may not be many of us left. Many will relocate in other towns.

The SRC is asking Speedway residents to get on board, to get behind the redevelopment plans. They are proposing big changes. They are asking us to take a risk. Personally, I am on board, and I wish more people would join me. Don't let fear of change and collective paranoia keep the SRC from seeing its plans to fruition. Change is inevitable. Would you rather be forced to change by people who don't care about your personal opinions or attachments or would you rather be involved in a process of redevelopment that takes risks but offers us a good shot at a safer, more secure and prosperous future? Let us not forget that for every action or lack of action, there is a consequence. It's time to support our SRC.

The opinions expressed by Ms. Sample in this letter to the editor do not necessarily reflect those of her employer.

Stephanie Sample
Speedway, IN