Chamber of Commerce Meeting 03/21/2019

cropped-Charlestown-Chamber-Logo-2-1Mayor Bob Hall spoke at the regular meeting of the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 21, at 12:30 pm. Following is a summary and full audio (45:32) of the presentation:

  • Mayor Hall thanked the audience and the Chamber for the opportunity to speak. He introduced the new Charlestown logo and said that it features the word “Family” because that’s where the city’s focus is. He said that everything done is meant to help families. 
  • Overview of events in the city: 
    • Mayor Hall asked how many people had ever remodeled a house. He said that when he was first elected mayor in the year 2000 he came from a real estate background. He said that the first thing you do when you remodel a house is remove things that are obsolete and fix everything underneath. He said once you identify all those things you begin to do exterior things (drywall and trim work) to market the house. He said that has been his approach in Charlestown. He said that in 2000, everything was overgrown and they’ve uncovered and added sidewalks and cleaned/edged areas from Highway 62 to the hospital. 
    • In regard to the water system, Mayor Hall said it was not uncommon to have multiple line breaks in one day. He said they began replacing lines and broken hydrants. He said they often received as many as 20 dirty water calls per day so they went to work on that problem. 
    • He said that potholes on Highway 3 were a big problem in 2000 and he took initiative to have those repaired. 
    • In regard to the sewer plant, he said that in 2000 the plant was on an expansion ban under which they were not allowed to add new sewer lines. He pursued and received a grant to make repairs. 
    • He said that the city is now far enough along in the “remodel” process that they can begin to do things on the exterior. 
  • Five Es – Mayor Hall reintroduces his concept for five things that help a city grow
    • Enlarging Your Vision – He said that Charlestown is in the best position for growth and will be the largest city in Clark County because we have more real estate available than anyone else. He said that the city is positioned like it was in 1940 when the ammunition plant brought a growth in population. He said when the Army left there were numerous vacant properties and he has been trying to overcome the problems since then. He said the River Ridge Redevelopment is bringing changes to the area. 
      • New Police Station – expected to be completed late May or early June 
      • Updating signage in city
      • Opening of new road from County Road 403 to Clark Road in Pleasant Ridge is Saturday, March 23. Road to be named after Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer. 
      • Working on design of a new road that will connect County Road 403 near Danbury Oaks to Highway 62 at Gate 19. 
      • Added more parks including a dog park. The goal is to get families to be more active. He said they’ve done two parks in Glendale and they’re adding three more parks in Heritage, Lakeview/Highview, and Ashley Springs. They’re in negotiations with Woodford Farms and Danbury Oaks. They will continue to look for sites and place parks until every family is within walking distance to a park. He said these parks add to the quality of life and that quality of life is a main issue for the Millennial generation. He said Millennials don’t want yards to take care of and that they want small lots with amenities nearby. 
      • Renaissance Project – Due diligence is expected by April 1. It will have apartments on the second floor with 3,000 sq ft of commercial space on the ground level in phase one. Phase two will include commercial space as well. He said these apartments will be marketed to younger people. 
      • Updated the old city maintenance garage to make it look more modern. 
      • He said the great thing about Charlestown is that we always have businesses coming and going. Discussed NIBCO’s sale to another company. 
      • School update – we’ve seen “tremendous growth” for our schools. He said when he became mayor 72% of our graduates were leaving school with no game plan for life. Now that he has created the CEEF he said that has changed to 99.4% of graduates having a plan for college, work, or military. Charlestown has a dual credit partnership with Ivy Tech that allows students to earn college credit and associates degrees while in high school. 
      • Real Estate update – Mayor Hall said that Real Estate agents are saying that sales are booming as people are moving into the area because of our schools and because of the Christmas program. 
    • Mayor Hall caught up on the Five E’s and said others that he’s covered include
      • Enhancing the City
      • Enhancing the Quality of Life
      • Economic Development and Workforce – (River Ridge) 
      • Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety 
        • He said Charlestown has always had a low major crime rate. He said every now and then there are a few break ins. He mentioned we have a Block Watch program that helps with these things. 
        • He said that the crime rate has gone down by 30% in the last two years. 
        • He said the city continues to address drug activity. Much has decreased and he said that is because of the Pleasant Ridge redevelopment. He said they will continue to develop the area if it takes 5 or 50 years.
          • He said that 65% of the properties have been torn down or are in the process of being vacated. He said that he wants to make clear that the city has never used eminent domain except for the three properties that they had to take to complete the road connecting 403 to Clark Road.
          • He said that the Institute for Justice has sued the city and that none of their claims are true, but that IJ makes money off of the videos they make about Charlestown. He said that nobody in Pleasant Ridge has become homeless in this process.
          • He said that the last election showed that people wanted the redevelopment in Pleasant Ridge because all the people who ran on that issue won.
          • He discussed the landlords selling their properties to the developer and said that the city asked them to stagger that process to manage the flow of displaced residents.
          • He addressed the two lawsuits related to Pleasant Ridge.
          • He mentioned that the historic designation received by Pleasant Ridge had no impact on the redevelopment plans.
          • He said many of the people who had moved into Pleasant Ridge before redevelopment were not from the city and they’re not in the city today and he’s ok with that because they brought problems. 
        • Water sale update – Mayor Hall said that the plan to sell began in 2016 when Indiana American Water company approached the city and offered to buy the utility. He explained that lawsuits related to the sale have been settled unless the group who opposes the sale moves it to the Supreme Court but that he does not believe that will go anywhere
    • Mayor Hall said the city is in good financial heath and that they’ve received perfect audits. He said claims made otherwise are false. 
      • He addressed TIF districts and said that although most people won’t understand how they work, they’re in place to bolster economic growth. He said that the base assessed value freezes when a TIF is enacted and that everyone who receives taxes will continue to get that same rate. He says if that number is 100,000 then they continue to receive that amount, but when it reaches 105,000 then the city collects that 5,000 in the TIF. He said TIF and economic development is going well and the city receives about $700,000 per year from that fund. 
    • The Mayor closed by saying he is “pro-Charlestown” and that the city will see significant changes and growth in the next 2-3 years. He said he enjoys knowing his neighbors and seeing friends when he’s out and wants to keep the small town feel while the city expands. He thanked the Chamber for the chance to speak. 

Full audio (45:32) here:

Author: Treva Hodges

Resident of Charlestown, Indiana. Advocate.

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