LETTERS: Downtown needs action now

As the private nonprofit focused solely on downtown’s economic success, vitality and livability, we concur with IBJ’s position referencing the vexing challenges of our inner core [Downtown problems are vexing, but leaders shouldn’t shrug them off, Sept. 27].

We simultaneously acknowledge the strength of our downtown, which continues to be the fastest-growing neighborhood in Marion County and an area experiencing record tourism and business growth. However, complacency by some in both the public and private sectors is now overshadowing the gleam of the national success story known as Downtown Indy.

Author Michael Levine writes in his best-seller “Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards,” that when a building owner isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care about a broken window on their property, more serious infractions follow, including theft, defacement, crime, etc.

We are at a tipping point and concerned that many are becoming complacent about Indy’s “broken windows” manifested in vexes outlined by the IBJ. We cannot wait for an EID or for systemic solutions to come to fruition. We need to take action now, starting with the basic cleaning of downtown sidewalks. Therefore, we have appropriated a designated fund to launch a pilot program of downtown cleaning ambassadors to focus on environmental maintenance and cleaning. This newly hired team of ambassadors— many of whom were formerly homeless themselves—will clean, remove litter, power-wash filth, address weeds/graffiti and serve as additional eyes and ears in coordination with IMPD. It’s immediate. It’s a start. It’s necessary now.

This effort is part of a more holistic “Downtown Agenda” that will soon gather key stakeholders to drive solutions and impact change around safety, homelessness, curb management and livability while offering short- and long-term solutions to complement this specific immediate action.

Our “broken windows” and disorder can be no more. We must act where we are able to. The billions invested in downtown and that which is in the pipeline are at stake. We call upon all downtown stakeholders to join us in sharpening cleaning standards and eradicating complacency. Downtown deserves better.

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The executive committee of Downtown Indy Inc.

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