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Quest for development grant sparks infighting in Nashville

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The popular tourist town of Nashville, Ind., could get millions in federal money for community development. But not everyone there is happy with how the application process to be a Stellar Community has gone.

Nashville is one of six finalists for the designation, which brings money and support to help spur economic development. Since 2010, six Indiana communities have received awards ranging from nearly $10 million to $20 million.

Residents say they support the program, but some contend local leaders pursued it without input from the community. The Herald-Times reported petitions are being circulated in Brown County asking the state to table the application until next year so the entire community can weigh in on which projects to pursue.

"It all sounds great, and we are very much in favor of the Stellar program, but it is supposed to involve the whole community," said Marilyn Rudd, a longtime merchant.

Rudd contends a core group of people directed the proposal that was submitted to state officials without consulting many shopkeepers and residents.

Nashville attorney Wanda Jones has filed two complaints with the state public access counselor claiming the Stellar committee meetings violated the state's open meetings law. She said the door to the county annex was locked during one meeting so no one could gain access.

Nashville Town Council President Bob Kirlin says no one was left out and denies decisions were made in private meetings.

"We are comfortable in everything we have done. This has been a very open process all the way through," he said.

The town's application identifies nine projects the town would pay for with Stellar funds. They include completion of trails, upgrades to the Brown County Playhouse, rehabilitation of 14 houses that detract from the town's quaint flavor and making the county courthouse accessible to the disabled.

Residents who oppose the application process question a plan to develop a streetscape that would affect the historic 1872 building that houses the Hob Nob Corner restaurant. Rudd's family has owned the building for 85 years.

A petition that seeks to retain the area's eclectic charm says there is no need to revitalize the area because its sidewalks already comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Nashville's unique character is based upon its history, the kaleidoscope of old homes and shops which make up the shopping districts, the quaint alleys, and the overall sense that time has passed us by. We believe this atmosphere is the heart and core of Nashville, and do not want to lose that unique aspect of our town," the petition states.

Alex Harker, state spokesman for the Stellar project, said concerns about the process are handled at the local level "and do not affect a community's chances of being designated Stellar."

Awards are expected to be announced in early August.

The other finalists are Decatur, Huntingburg, Marion, Mount Vernon and Wabash.

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  • Actions Reinforce Perceptions
    This reinforces the prevailing perception that Nashville is a somewhat closed culture and outsiders are deemed 2nd class citizens. I have heard this from several people who settled in the area only to be disillusioned by the local attitudes, which border on arrogance.
  • The Shadow knows...
    The Truth...the microphone trick is one used by many a Council...turn down the mics, turn up the ventilation system...how clever...
  • Truth
    They lock the meeting room door to keep citizens out, then claim they did not. They turn the microphones down so the citizens cannot hear what's being said.

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    1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

    2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

    3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

    4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

    5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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