Mayor shares State of City in Community Conversation
With topics such as the proposed community center, school safety, water quality and the future of Greencastle raised, Mayor Bill Dory shared a Community Conversation with 20 local residents Tuesday night at City Hall.
Dory used the opportunity to deliver a 2018 State of the City address to begin the evening, playing on the “it takes a village” logic to call Greencastle a “village that pulls together to meet the needs of our fellow citizens” and a community “that capitalizes on opportunities.”
“I cannot possibly list all of the individuals and organizations that contribute time, talent, treasure, collaboration and partnership to make Greencastle a great, family-oriented community and a great Midwest college town,” he said.
Speaking directly about the status of the proposed community center/YMCA, Dory told the audience the Redevelopment Commission “continues to move forward on the community center project. The architect has been working on the design and efforts are under way to acquire the site.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the evening, Dory was asked specifics about the community center, which is scheduled to be owned by the city but operated by the Wabash Valley YMCA.
Dory, in the third year of his first term as mayor, was asked how programming would be organized and what hand the City Park Department might have in it.
Programming will “probably be divvied up,” he said, noting that the YMCA won’t be running soccer or other sports leagues but might offer instructional programs in soccer or other sports as part of the partnership.
The potential location, of course, was asked about and the mayor answered without disclosing the actual site, which is reportedly still under negotiations with the owners.
“We have a location in mind,” he said, “but we do not have the property locked in yet.”
He said the city will likely option the property soon, providing a safety net should the project fall through somehow after the site would be purchased. Once that gets optioned, Dory said, the location will be announced.
Asked about a possible timetable on the project, which has been discussed off and on in the community for about 30 years, Dory said January 2020 remains a possibility.
“The ‘Y’ always likes to open in January to take advantage of those New Year’s resolutions,” he said, suggesting motivation for the January 2020 date. “But don’t hold me to that. We have a little ways to go yet. If we can get it open the first quarter of 2020, I’d be happy.”
Asked about water quality and how the city might prevent issues that have surfaced in places like Flint, Mich., Dory assured that Greencastle’s water is not only safe and thoroughly monitored by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management through standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but it has also captured awards for its taste and quality.
The city does not have an issue with lead in the water, thanks, in part, to a decision several years ago to add a small dose of phosphate to the water to prevent lead from building up on joints or soldered points within the distribution system.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a good water source,” the mayor said, adding that Putnam County farmers’ use of no-till farming over the years has significantly reduced sediment build-up and the prospect of chemical runoff getting into the creek.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some difficulties that arise.
“Some of our water lines are 100 years old,” the mayor said, noting that those are cast-iron pipes. “When we flush the hydrants, that can stir up some sediment. You wouldn’t want to wash your white shirts that day.”
Asked about the hot-button issue of school safety, Mayor Dory noted that the schools have their own safety officers and that City Police officials have been diligent in working with school administrators on any issues and possible scenarios that might arise.
“Our schools are locked,” he added, “so the only way you can get in is to be buzzed in. That makes the possibility of somebody casually wandering into the building pretty remote.”
As far as what he sees as the future of Greencastle as a community, Dory definitely doesn’t envision it becoming any kind of a bedroom community for Indianapolis or Terre Haute.
In fact, the mayor said he sees “Greencastle as a well-rounded place,” able to “support families who live and work here.”
“I also see it as a great place for someone who has a job in Indianapolis but wants to live in a rural community,” he added.
“We’d like to attract families from a variety of housing price points,” Dory continued. “We’d like to have business people join us; we’d like to have skilled people join us; and we’d like to have trades people join us.
”Overall I’d like to see us as a well-rounded community and provide an opportunity for a variety of individuals.”
In concluding his State of the City remarks, Mayor Dory said that long term, city officials are continuing ”to work toward becoming a family-friendly community.”
“In 2018,” he added, “we will continue to encourage our community partnerships, seek out more housing opportunities and encourage the development of more educational opportunities at Area 30 and Ivy Tech to allow our young people to fill the jobs our employers are creating.
“As I mentioned, ‘It takes a village ...’ And I invite you to participate and play a role in creating our village and inviting others to join.”
The Community Conversation series is sponsored by the Greencastle League of Women Voters, Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce and the Putnam County Public Library. There was no announcement of when the next session might be scheduled.