(The following letter was submitted to the Indy Star on 5.3.18)
This Is May! And with May comes the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at month’s end. As with motorsports, competitors do not win if they take their collective feet off the gas pedal. Likewise, we know as professional advocates for Indianapolis that we, as a city, do not compete well for talent, jobs, events, corporate expansions/relocations, conventions, visitors, residents, leaders, etc. if we let up off the gas. Or worse yet, come to a complete stop.
Such is beginning to happen in our city’s urban core as it relates to how far we’ve come with being seen as a clean, beautiful and safe Downtown. As civic ambassadors, it concerns us that we’re starting to see the negative impacts of reduced attention to cleanliness and beautification on our Downtown sidewalks and public spaces. Even though commercial property values in Downtown have risen significantly in recent years, how long can this remain true if we aren’t paying attention to what got us this far? At what point will the billions invested in our Downtown be at risk?
An Economic Improvement District (EID) plan is being proposed for the Mile Square where property owners can accelerate efforts to make Downtown look, feel and be better. The EID is focused on increasing cleanliness and beautification as well as efforts to improve the perception of safety, among other things. These are all efforts that have successfully improved hundreds of cities where EIDs are in place – cities that have kept their collective feet on the gas pedal. Unfortunately, in fact, many of these cities are now passing us at increased speed.
We encourage residential and commercial property owners in the Mile Square to sign their petitions by the May 11 deadline; to take control; to prioritize spending; to increase property values; to sharpen Indy’s competitive edge. EIDs are proven strategies across the country to address the decay that’s starting to show its ugly face in Downtown. We stand on the shoulders of those leaders who invested billions in our Downtown in recent years. We all need to do our part so Downtown Indianapolis does not drop out of the race.
Greg Ballard, former mayor of Indianapolis
David Forsell, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
Kären Haley, Indianapolis Cultural Trail
Michael Huber, Indy Chamber
Leonard Hoops, Visit Indy
Dave Lawrence, Arts Council of Indianapolis
Brian Payne, Central Indiana Community Foundation
Bart Peterson, former mayor of Indianapolis
Sherry Seiwert, Downtown Indy, Inc.
Ryan Vaughn, Indiana Sports Corp.