Recently, the proposed downtown Economic Improvement District was rejected by the City-County Council. Before moving on to identify alternative strategies, we should reflect on this experience.
First, let’s acknowledge Downtown Indy for pursuing a bold and ambitious proposal. Not only is the scale unprecedented in Indiana, but the process required months of education and outreach to a changing network of in- and out-of-state property owners. To this diverse cross-section, Downtown Indy asked what all citizens should ask, “How can we work collectively to achieve greater impact on the city?”
We should be inspired by Downtown Indy to pursue similarly inspiring plans. Let’s hope the EID’s temporary fate doesn’t deter others from advocating for potentially game-changing ideas.
Second, we should consider whether we missed an extraordinary opportunity. We cannot ignore the latest public surveys revealing a multi-year trend of growing concerns with safety and cleanliness downtown.
The EID would have invested over $3 million annually. It is difficult to overstate the potential impact this amount of unrestricted, self-governed funding would have on downtown.
Consider the following annual spending: Except for the city emptying trash cans and property owners volunteering, there is currently no other funding spent cleaning streets and sidewalks. The EID would have created $750,000 for cleaning and maintenance. Approximately $40,000 is currently spent downtown on new trees, streetscapes and signage. The EID would have provided $655,000. There is currently minimal funding targeted for homeless outreach downtown. The EID would have provided $360,000. In addition to IMPD, only about $50,000 is currently spent on police patrols. The EID would have funded $200,000. Finally, the EID would have funded downtown’s first public restroom.
Let’s support organizations and ideas that inspire us to create an exceptional community.