Sad Commentary on Indianapolis

It hurts me to say this as a Democrat,, but somebody needs to hold Mayor Hogsett accountable for multiple problems in Indianapolis. To begin with, it seems that every day someone is shot and killed in Marion County and our response is to offer prayers and condolences. While our streets remain a disgusting mess given our chuck holes and other problems, our new proposed bus line is ripping apart major sections of Meridian Street, Capitol Street, and College. To make matters worse, it has taken longer to repair the bridge at Central and Fall Creek than it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Finally, the mayor proposes to build a new Courthouse/jail on an environmentally contaminated site off Southeastern Avenue and there is nearly an absence of political debate.

What is happening to our city? Judges are shot in downtown Indy and no criminal charges are filed. Nearly every shooting involves a drunken argument outside of a local watering hole and the NRA keeps its mouth shut. It’s time that we start treating firearms the way we do motor vehicles and maybe we can finally learn that the right to life doesn’t end at birth.

And while I am sincerely hopeful that the new bus line provides a critical service to our city, I continue to view it with mounting skepticism. For example, how are people that don’t live close to its boarding sites supposed to find a place to park their car to do so? Quite frankly, if you live beyond walking distance of the bus service, it seems to produce little more than community aggravation.

On top of that, look what it is doing concerning access to principal city streets. The reduction of lanes on Meridian, Capitol and College does little more than ensure traffic jams during rush hour every day. It would be helpful if Central was open to traffic, but that remains impossible since the bridge has been closed for a couple of years. What is taking so long on that project and why hasn’t the Mayor demanded answers?

Tragically, the Mayor is adding to our problems with his proposal to build a new Courthouse/county jail off of Prospect and Southeastern Avenue. Before making a brief comment on environmental issues, the site makes no sense given that it is largely inaccessible. Has anyone tried to travel on Southeastern Avenue from downtown Indy and had the lovely experience of a largely two lane road that involves crossing very active railroad tracks as well as the city’s worst intersection off of English Avenue? Given that there is only one bus service from downtown Indianapolis to this area, how does the Mayor propose that jurors, witnesses and court personnel gain ready access to the new facility?

But the problems related to this project are compounded with environmental issues. As most of you know, it is being built on a site run by a Coke manufacturing facility for over a century. Close to 14 carcinogens have been identified in that property, and parts of it are banned from any type of construction.

Yet while the Mayor’s experts have concluded that while this location is so environmentally contaminated that it would be inappropriate to build residential property, they want to construct a jail that functions as residential property by any definition. Put another way, if the site is too poisonous to have families live there, then how can you have individuals incarcerated for months at a time while being visited by family and friends? On top of that, how is it any safer for probation officers, court personnel, judges, police officers or lawyers?

Finally, the conclusion of the Mayor’s experts is more contaminated than the property itself. While they are claiming that remedial action will make it safe for individuals to work on this property, they also conclude that it would be irresponsible to grow any type of vegetation and consume it. Like it or not, if the remediation will not stop a growing tomato from being poisoned, how are human beings any safer?

Let me wrap this up with this analogy. The Mayor’s experts conclude that “an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment does not appear likely.” Let me suggest that you use that same standard if you were visiting a farm in the middle of that winter with family and friends. Assume there was a pond on that facility that appeared to be frozen over. If your kids wanted to go out and play on that ice, what would you do if the property’s owner responded to your safety question with the answer, “Well, I think it is very UNLIKELY that the kids will fall through the ice.”

All of you know that you would keep your children off of that pond, and that same conclusion applies to the Mayor’s Courthouse/jail proposal. I think the Mayor owes us some answers, don’t you?