...the local daily paper on its farsightedness. The folks there have already developed a logo and slogan to push their version of what needs to be done for the future of this city. (Better late than never?) The logo is a portrayal of the city skyline atop a football - wherein the height of the Monument shows as about half the diameter of the football. (An appropriate ratio considering the history of downtown activity in the past.) The slogan is "Beyond the BIG GAME," plastered across the front of the football itself.
The "BIG GAME" is, of course, the Super Bowl scheduled for next year. That event will be the all-time crowning glory for this world class city, and will apparently mark the time when municipal government, with the strong encouragement of the media, can start tending to municipal problems which have had little or no priority - financially or otherwise - for the past three or four decades.
An extensive article in the paper (2/20/11) gives a rather pitiable picture of many rundown, deteriorating neighborhoods in the city. One sentence reads as follows. "Travel in any direction from Lucas Oil Stadium and within minutes, you’ll end up in a neighborhood where blight has set down deep roots."
The article also tells of a survey made by the city concerning prioritizing community development efforts which brought forth this answer. "The results overwhelmingly tagged the demolition or rehabilitation of abandoned properties as a top priority." (Our emphasis here and above.)
A review of the law gives us a broad hint as to the problem - past and future. IC 36-7-15.1-1.3 now reads in part: "Sec. 1.3. (a) After June 30, 2005, a reference in any statute, rule, ordinance, resolution, contract, or other document or record to a blighted, deteriorated or deteriorating area established under this chapter shall be treated as a reference to an area needing redevelopment(as defined in IC 36-7-1.3.)
IC 36-7-15.1-2 sets out four full paragraphs of broad criteria under which the redevelopment commission may determine that an area needs redevelopment. And if that doesn’t cover the waterfront, a fifth paragraph mandates, "(e) This chapter shall be liberally construed to carry out the purposes of this section." (Again, our emphasis in both cases.)
So, we’re no longer talking about blight and abandoned properties. Any property in question need only meet the intentionally vague determination of "needing redevelopment," as determined by non-elected public officials. Frankly, we had wondered how the area for the new Marriott hotel could have been declared blighted., considering the "investment" of hundreds of millions of dollars within a few hundred feet in recent years.
Even as the paper begins this campaign into the future, it supports plans for the city - uh, make that taxpayer - to back yet another private business development for which private funding cannot be obtained.
Pardon our cynicism, but we think the whole scheme is designed to continue to hyper-inflate the value of a football game to municipal finances, while maintaining the same old shell game promoting the downtown area at the expense of the rest of the citizens.
History, through the administrations of at least four mayors, gives no indication that downtown leadership, political or business, has any real interest in the taxpayer beyond the contents of the wallet or purse.
Will interest generated by a logo and slogan actually survive the Super Bowl? We’d love to be pleasantly surprised.