Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Public Works Board to Vote Wednesday on Using Rebuild Indy Funds for Ballard Cricket Park

At some point tomorrow (Maybe 1 p.m. in the Public Assembly Room), the Board of Public Works is going to get together and vote on awarding over $2.4 million to a company called Renascent as part of the World Sports Park initiative on Indianapolis' Eastside.

Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana was first to report it, but I also was sent the agenda as well.

You may remember that mayor Greg Ballard told us at the time of the transfer of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group that this money from the deal would be used to address neglected infrastructure needs.  Months later, people are beginning to wonder just when some of that help is going to come as those needs continue to pile up.

Long time government insider Dennis Rosebrough serves on the Board of Public Works, and Councillor Zach Adamson wrote him an e-mail raising the concerns many have about using Rebuild Indy funds to build this new sports park.  Rosebrough responded with this response to Councillor Adamson, and he CC'd Marc Lotter, Mayor Ballard's Spokesman.
Good morning Councilor. Thanks for sharing your opinion. Improving parks infrastructure seems to be an appropriate use of the funds. At the end of the project, we end up with first class athletic fields that can be used for many activities including soccer, lacrosse and other games that require fields. The design does not preclude any use including cricket or Gaelic sports. In the worst case scenario, we end up with a beautiful, multi-functional recreational facility on the east side of the city that can be used by young and old. It could also become a regional center for emerging sports like cricket and draw thousands of people to our community in the future. 
There were those who thought a domed stadium addition to the Convention Center was foolish and that even involved a new tax. As a member of the PR group for the that project, we heard all of the arguments. With Mayor Hudnut’s and the City-Council’s bold vision, it was built - and as they say, “the rest is history.” Obviously, this project is not even in the same league (maybe $5 million cost and no tax impact vs. $50 million and a new tax), but it does represent a “vision” for our community. I will proudly continue to support this project. 
Dennis L. Rosebrough
Deputy Commissioner - External Affairs
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Adamson responded forcefully:
You’re flowery words about this Complex are small consolation to the dozens of people who have been hit by cars and killed in our city because they lack sidewalks to connect them to needed resources, just in this last year alone. I’m sure the communities across our city who have been waiting for major repairs on their streets for decades will be equally unmoved by your embrace for this Complex at their expense. 
I am by no means opposed to the Complex itself and if we could afford it, I’d be excited to hear about it. However, you might not have heard, the city has both a multi million dollar budget shortfall and several hundred million dollars in backlogged infrastructure needs. Needs the RebuildIndy Funds were deliberately created for. This investment is not for repair or stabilization of an existing park. It is for a whole new repurposing of an existing park. One that is not in need of repair. 
I hope when you cast your shortsighted vote in support of this inappropriate use of the RBI funds, you’ll also include a message to all the folks who will not see the needed infrastructure repairs because these funds were diverted. Perhaps, the best thing for me to do at this time is to publish your email reply and include your email so my constituents will be able to send YOU their cries for needed infrastructure. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and I’m sure you’ll be able to pacify them with the grand vision of the new Cricket Stadium.

Since you took the liberty to include Mr Lotter in your reply to me, clearly so you could earn good graces with the mayor, I’m including the other councillors in this reply so they might know what to tell their constituents when they call or they read in the newspaper about yet another grandmother, cyclist or child is killed while trying to pass down a busy street with no sidewalk or shoulder. 
Again, my warmest regards.
Adamson's inclusion of the other Councillors spurred the following two e-mails in support of his opposition to the use of Rebuild Indy funds for this project.

From Councillor Angela Mansfield:
I concur with Councillor Adamson's statements. Using Rebuild Indy funds for this purpose is absolutely wasteful! These funds were raised on the backs of our rate payer constituents and the funds should go back to our neighborhoods. We need sidewalks for every day use for safe transportation to grocery stores, drug stores, jobs, schools, religious institutions, etc. The sidewalks would also provide an opportunity for many to exercise and create a connected community. 
Building a cricket field for just a few is not only shortsighted given our budget constraints, it is completely delusional.
And from Councillor Frank Mascari:

I also agree with councilor Adamson. We in Indianapolis have more issues at hand then a sports park. 
Frank Mascari
City Council District 20
It appears that passions are flying on the use of Rebuild Indy funds for Mayor Ballard's pet project, and that's what this really is.  It's Mayor Ballard and his administration that wants this.  Like Senate Bill 621, few others in the city support it.

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