Revitalization Commission motion dies in Roachdale, for now
ROACHDALE -- At a rather short Roachdale Town Council meeting Tuesday night, the conversation surrounding the creation of a redevelopment commission brought forth disagreements and ultimately led to board member Zach Bowers motioning for its approval, but without receiving a second.
Barbara Scott was not in attendance at the meeting, placing the weight of any decisions upon the shoulders of Bowers and board member Jack Jones.
Jones refused to second the creation of the commission after citing disappointment with previous endeavors he viewed as being similar in nature.
"We just keep pouring money into this development stuff. I agree we need to do something, but it seems like all we're doing is spending money with nothing in return."
Jones cited $2,000 that the town gave "three years ago" for an assessment to be done through a partnership between the Roachdale Revitalization Cooperative Alliance and Purdue University that would help apply concepts of how to rejuvenate businesses to the Town of Roachdale.
"There's got to be a stop to it because people from Roachdale are not gonna pay for this stuff, they're gonna sell their houses and you're going to be sitting in a town with nothing," Jones said.
Both RRCA president Joe Buser and secretary Holly Cook were reserved but explained that the assessment is still in process, although it has taken longer than originally thought and additional hurdles have been met in working with the university graduate student.
Buser responded, explaining that the RRCA has been a good thing for the community.
"I think the RRCA has a proven track record so far and that we have made a difference in the community and we are very proactive in development and cleaning up and trying to attract new business. We went under the scrutiny of obtaining a 501c3 status, which is a pretty big deal for a small organization to be able to achieve that. We have complete open door policies," Buser said.
"We've been very public about what we're trying to achieve. We are certainly not a fly-by-night organization and we've been an organization for three years now. We have shown steady progress in what we have been able to accomplish so far.
For $250 per year, I think we (a redevelopment commission) would be a good investment for the community."
In referencing the $2,000 investment Jones had referred to, Cook pointed out that despite the lack of a finished assessment, that doesn't equate to wasting money.
"(The project) was simply a preliminary study, there was no guarantee of money coming back, it was simply a study and anytime you do a study you put money out with no guarantee of things coming back. It gives you information to use in other aspects for future projects, they never guarantee that it will bring money back to Roachdale. It was a preliminary study on water quality, solar, air, financial redevelopment and access to highways," she said.
From what was presented by West-Central Indiana Economic Development District specialist Jim Coffenberry at the February town council meeting, creation of a redevelopment commission seems to offer many upsides to communities with few negatives.
Coffenberry cited progress in Cloverdale as an example of what the commissions can accomplish.
"We just recently, down in Cloverdale, designated a new economic development area that will cover from the town limits north of (Interstate) 70, all the way down through the end of town. Basically what that means is that any new development that occurs henceforth from March 1 on, any of the new assessment that occurs, the taxes off that will be able to be captured by the redevelopment commission and put back into that area," Coffenberry said during the Feb. 13, meeting.
"There are just a whole bunch of things that a redevelopment commission can do for the town that you (the town council) can't necessarily do for yourself right now, and that's the whole reason that they created the whole redevelopment commission concept. In a nutshell, that is in essence, what a redevelopment commission is."
Town attorney David Peebles summarized the role the theoretical commission would play in the Roachdale government and the relationship between it and the town council.
"You guys (the potential commission) operate on your own, as a government entity with open door laws and everything," he said.
"It's a town entity."
Peebles also reiterated that although the commission would be its own body, ultimate decisions are still up for vote by the town council and that removing a commission member is as easy as the board simply saying so.
The commission could not acquire land, spend money or make decisions that would ultimately affect the town without the council's approval.
From what has been presented, the goal is to use the commission to provide the Town of Roachdale with additional avenues of achieving development goals, from freedoms allowing acquisition of dilapidated buildings to tax abatements and grant monies that the town council is unable to do.
The only other topic discussed at the meeting was the scheduling of hydrant flushing, which will take place on March 18, beginning around 7:30 a.m.
More information on the redevelopment commission can be found from our story on the February town meeting HERE.
Roachdale Town Council meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, April 14 at the Roachdale Town Hall.