City Council Meeting 11/06/2017

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City Council Meeting 11/06/2017 

 

  • Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance: Led by Sophia Adams from the Charlestown High School Varsity Cheerleaders – they competed and received 4th place in Indiana State competition
  • Invocation: led by Kate Muhlbaier of Frist United Methodist Church, Charlestown
  • Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call:
    • Ted Little – Present
    • Brian Hester – Present
    • Mike Vaughn – Present
    • Tina Barnes – Present
    • Eric Vaughn – Present
    • City attorney Mike Gillenwater not present
  • Approval of Agenda:
    • Add ordinance 2017-OR-15 for transfer of funds be added to agenda
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Eric Vaughn
    • No discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  • Approval of Minutes: 10/02/2017 meeting
    • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
    • Second by Mike Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Motion Passed unanimously
  • Claims:
    • Motion to approve made by Eric Vaughn
    • Second by Brian Hester
    • No Discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  • Payroll Allowance Docket: 10/01/2017 to 11/04/2017
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Second by Mike Vaughn
    • No Discussion
    • Motion passed unanimously
  • Public Comment: by Claude Rottet
    • Rottet asked for extra time and was denied.
    • Rottet confirmed that council members received a copy of a handout he prepared. He spoke directly to the council members about their lack of discussion or objection to any issue presented to the council. He stated that the city is entering into higher debt and raised questions about the possibility of a sports complex in town. He pointed out that complexes exist in Indianapolis and will be built soon in Louisville. He asked the council why they believe that Charlestown can support such a complex. He requested that tax payer funds not be used to fund such a project. He discussed the debt that the city of Louisville has used to pay for their facilities and asked the council not to make the same mistakes. He asked that the council consider the needs of the entire town. He pointed out the involvement of John Nease.
    • Mayor Hall response: He confirmed that all members of the council received the handout and asked if he needed to address the issue. He said that the information in the handout is incorrect. He confirmed that the city has taken out the $2.5 million for Springville Manor
    • Ted Little asked for Mayor for clarification on the proposed sports complex. Mayor Hall stated that Klipsch-Card is going to put the money up for construction and that they will pay for it. He was unsure if they were going to buy the land.
    • Ted Little asked for clarification on other properties that the city has purchased and they Mayor stated that those properties were purchased without debt, with available funds. He confirmed that they borrowed $2.5 million for Springville Manor and an $800,000 charge listed is a duplicate within that amount. He said that the city applied for a $2 million grant for the sports complex and were denied. He said that most of the charges were paid for in cash.
    • Ted Little remarked that he hopes most people want a police station and said that we will find a way to fund it. He said that the lack of discussion in the meetings is a matter of efficiency. He went on to say that, while the Mayor is not permitted by law to meet with more than two council members at a time in private, they have been meeting frequently in private in meetings that happen when the public are not aware of them. He pointed out that these issues are brought up in Board of Public Works and Redevelopment meetings. He said that these meetings occur in private so that the public Council Meetings will remain short and efficient. He said that council members receive meeting agendas and minutes days before the meetings and know what is going on as a way of justifying the lack of discussion in meetings. He thanked Mr. Rotett for his time.
  • Ordinances and Resolutions:
    • Rescind Resolution 2017-R-7 – originally gave permission for the Mayor to seek a $2.2 million loan from New Washington State Bank but the money was obtained through the $2.5 BAN in a separate resolution
      • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
      • Second by Ted Little
      • No Discussion
      • Motion Passed Unanimously
    • Approval of ordinance 2017-OR-15 to approve transfer appropriation for city departments
      • 1st reading Motion made by Ted Little
      • Second by Brian Hester
      • No Discussion
      • Motion Passed unanimously
      • Mayor proposed suspending rules to advance to second and final reading of this ordinance
        • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
        • Second by Mike Vaughn
        • No discussion
        • Motion passed unanimously
      • 2nd reading of 2017-OR-15
        • motion made by Brian Hester
        • second by Eric Vaughn
        • no discussion
        • Motion passed
      • New Business:
        • Tina Barnes made a motion that the City draft a letter to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC to have all boarded up and vacant homes owned by the organization scheduled for demolition within 60 days of receipt of said letter according to number 5 of the letter agreement signed 11/11/2016.
          • Mayor said that comes from the Board of Public Works
          • Tina Barnes pointed out that in the letter it refers to “The City”
          • Mayor asked for a second – none made
          • In the absence of a second the motion failed
        • Adjournment:
          • Motion made by Eric Vaughn
          • Second by Ted Little
          • Motion passed unanimously

 

Meeting duration 18:35

Audio of meeting available here: 

 

Open the Doors and See all the People

Pleasant Ridge made the news again this week. For those familiar with Charlestown this is no surprise. Once again the community finds itself in the spotlight of controversy and once again voices call for its destruction with justification that tearing it down will restore some sense of ‘public good’ to the area.

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 “I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but when you have a low-rent district, it invites people who are not contributing to society,”

– Mayor Bob Hall testified in a hearing that took place in Scott County on Friday, September 1.

What happens to a town when its leadership sends these messages?

Pleasant Ridge has been on the community radar for several years now. Ask anyone walking down the sidewalk in Charlestown about the neighborhood and they probably have an opinion. Residents who do not live in Pleasant Ridge watch the news and see messages from City leaders and base their opinions about the community on what they see and hear. Some might even cite statistics or sources to support their opinions.

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Naturally, when they see and hear stories that highlight dangerous or deviant behavior from the community, it becomes easier to agree with leadership and view Pleasant Ridge as a blight on the face of our community.

The two news releases about Pleasant Ridge this week have prompted folks once again to cry out against the…

“nasty ass”

“drug infested” neighborhood that is

“full of illegals” who

“walk around like zombies.”

Since Charlestown designated Pleasant Ridge as “an area in need of redevelopment,” many arguments have been made in favor of tearing down the entire community and rebuilding to attract a better different population. Certainly nobody wants to ignore an area where crime rates appear higher than average…

…but are we asking the right questions about Pleasant Ridge?

  • Are we asking what social conditions influence people to move into low-rent districts?
  • Are we questioning how we rank crimes on a hierarchy that positions blue-collar offenses as somehow worse than white-collar crimes?
  • Are we looking at all of the ways that revitalization can occur in areas that need it?
  • Are we asking the people of Pleasant Ridge what resources they need to empower them?

Michelle Martinez rented in Pleasant Ridge for 19 years because keeping her rent low enabled her to provide more educational and extracurricular opportunities for her children. Michelle’s third-shift job at NIBCO provided a steady wage that enabled her to shop at local businesses and pay her bills. Had she sacrificed more of that income on higher priced housing, Michelle’s youngest daughter might have had to forego her gymnastics lessons that keep her physically fit and socially engaged with her peers. Because of the extra support she received from her mother’s commitment, Michelle’s oldest daughter graduated from Charlestown High School with honors and has since enlisted in the Army and volunteered for deployment to serve her country. What better way to contribute to society?

Crystal Hébert rented in Pleasant Ridge for thirteen years. During that time she and her husband remained employed and met their financial obligations. They paid taxes, shopped in Charlestown, and were active members of their church. Crystal’s family knows how to help those in need. In addition to volunteering and donating to help support local relief funds, Crystal’s children regularly rushed to help their elderly neighbors unload groceries or maintain their yards. Crystal’s pride in her community is only surpassed by the pride she has for her children including a son who will soon graduate with honors and who has received numerous scholarships to continue his education.

Kristina Neff admires Charlestown for many of the same reasons all of us do. After living here for 19 years and renting in Pleasant Ridge for nine, Kristina says she still loves the town because “it’s quiet and nobody bothers you.” Kristina is happy to have her children attend schools in Charlestown and loves how the community pulls together to support kids and families.

Although these three women provide only a snapshot of the types of people attracted to the “low-rent district” of Pleasant Ridge, they speak in sharp contrast to the images often painted of the community. Dozens of homeowners also love and deeply value their neighborhood.

So when we, as a community, are looking at possible “revitalization” projects, we need to remember the individuals involved. We need to remember that we are not talking about objects, but People. Redevelopment MUST be more than rebuilding!

We owe it to the People of Charlestown to explore all possible alternatives for helping those in need.

Drive through Pleasant Ridge. (I do on a regular basis because a dear friend lives there and I sneak by her house to make sure she’s ok.) But when you drive through, go slowly. Because you WILL see people out on the street…playing basketball…walking their children in strollers…laughing at a neighbor’s joke…working in their yards…

But you must look. You must look past the objects. You must look at the People.

Better yet…try talking to some of them. Do not be deceived…

After all, the first lesson I learned when I moved here is that Charlestown has never been about buildings…it’s about people.


Sources:
“Mayor defends enforcing city code: Denies Pleasant Ridge residents’ accusations,” by Kirsten Clark in The Courier Journal, Saturday, September 2,, 2017
WAVE News Release “Pleasant Ridge Resident Arrested for Threatening Charlestown Mayor,” September 5, 2017
Personal interviews with prior and current renters of Pleasant Ridge – names and details published with their permission.