|An Open Letter to Mr. Scott Harris,
Dear Mr. Harris,
Since your last "Speedzone Update" in the 16 July Press seems to respond to the points I made in my letter to the editor in the 2 July Press, I cannot help but think that you are implying that my statements are inflammatory falsehoods and that I am not in favor of redevelopment. Let me lay out some facts.
First, I am in favor of redevelopment. I believe I have lived in Speedway a little longer than you have. I have personally witnessed the decay of Speedway that you may not have had the privilege of experiencing. I would love to see the property that was American Art Clay, and provided tax receipts to the town of Speedway, transformed into something other than a gravel parking lot. I would love to see the property that was once used as a set in a major motion picture (the old Holiday Inn), and provided tax receipts to the town of Speedway, transformed into something other than a gravel parking lot. I would love to see the old 500 Shopping Center, where I used to bowl, developed into property that will provide reasonable tax receipts. I would love to see the old Bonanza Steak House where I used to eat turned into something a little more attractive than the Winner's Circle. I am emphatically in favor of redevelopment. Since we have never discussed my views, to imply otherwise would be a falsehood.
You might have access to data that shows that the Wild Cherry and Winner's Circle are sources of crime in Speedway, but I do not think there is any such data on any of the other properties slated for redevelopment in phase 1. That cannot be said of International Village, for example. That is why I, and others, who are more concerned with crime believe that we started at the wrong end of town. However, the SRC and our elected representatives have set the priorities. We will redevelop phase 1 first; however, those of us that disagree with those decisions have the right to question them. If you do not want people questioning the decisions you make as a public figure, do not be a public figure. I remember many years ago commiserating with my father about some of the things I had to deal with as an Army Officer. He had a simple response, "It comes with the territory." Guess what. Our second guessing your decisions comes with the territory.
Yes, the Dotlichs have had many years to improve the looks of their property. I agree that their equipment park is unsightly and not something that I would like to have next to a convention center development. But the dock at Praxair on Polco will not look much better from a second story window. Yes, that part of Speedway needs to be cleaned up; however, I believe your behavior, and that of some council members, at the May 28th council meeting did not do you any favors. As I remember it, Ms. Dotlich said that the SRC had not been in contact with representatives of their company for over a year. Your rebuttal said that representatives of the SRC had been in contact with someone representing them three times this spring. She then listed the members of their board of directors that can truly represent their company. If you had identified who the SRC had been in contact with, you could have shut down that discussion. You chose not to identify that contact. I agree that providing the details of the financial discussions would be counterproductive; however, unless you are willing to identify who you have been in contact with there is only one perception that can be drawn from that exchange, and that perception does not favor you. Also, the implication from members of the council that because Ms Dotlich does not live in Speedway she should not have a voice is wrong. Once again, I am in favor of redevelopment; however, it must be done fairly and honestly. What I witnessed at the May 28th council meeting made me question the fairness and honesty of the process. As a citizen of Speedway, it made me feel ashamed of some of the people that supposedly represent me.
You also implied that since I am only peripherally involved in Credit Union 1 that I do not know what communication has taken place with Credit Union 1. Trust me, they found out about the SRC's published plan for their property because I gave my wife the information to take to her boss at the credit union. I take her boss's word for it that he did try to contact the SRC to no avail. That's why one of their executives took his time to drive over from Illinois to attend an SRC meeting. Do you really expect us to believe that if the SRC had been in contact with the folks at Credit Union 1 an executive with that company would have paid $4.00 a gallon for gas just to drive from Illinois to visit one of the SRC meetings? That does not even pass the giggle test. Of course, just like the case with Ms Dotlich, you can prove me wrong by providing evidence. Or maybe your answer is that nobody from the SRC chose to contact the folks from Credit Union 1 because contrary to the SRC's published plan you no longer needed their property. That is what the Credit Union 1 folks were told at the SRC meeting. We are still waiting on a new map that will show how Holt Road will be realigned through that area without going through the Credit Union 1 property. But since you raised the issue of property owners being contacted, I decided to take the SRC development map showing the extension of Holt Road from 16th Street to 30th Street to the folks that live on Luett from 16th Street to 21st Street. Have they been contacted by the SRC or any other official entity to let them know that the SRC covets their property? No. Granted these people live in Indianapolis, but do we not owe it to our neighbors to let them know what we are doing that will affect them?
Lastly, I took the time to contact Mayor Ballard's office. The gentleman I talked to from the Department of Public Works said that Indianapolis has no funding to do anything with our redevelopment, including any changes to Holt Road. Without the extension of Holt Road, getting rid of Georgetown Road really does not make sense. He said that while they are ok with the principle of the SRC's redevelopment plans, they need to see a lot more details, especially financial, before they would give approval for changes to any of the major thoroughfares.
I know you think you have had plenty of meetings and plenty of communication. However, there are a lot of stakeholders that do not feel that their concerns have been adequately addressed, and there are obviously some that are still lacking in information. Ronald Reagan was a great President not just because he had a vision for our country, but because he was able to make it a common vision, to get us to buy into that vision, and to mobilize the country to work towards that vision. I believe we have a good vision to redevelop Speedway. I just think that we need to do a better job of getting everyone to buy into that common vision so that we can all work towards it as a community. That will take more communication, but the end result will be far more pleasant for everyone.