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November 25, 2013

Downtown Logansport streetscape projects get yellow light

Redevelopment commission says funds needed for future economic development.

The Logansport Redevelopment Commission has decided to hold off on a downtown streetscape project it originally approved this spring, with members saying the funds will be needed for future economic development projects.

Logansport Municipal Utilities Superintendent Paul Hartman pitched the plan in May to replace downtown streetlights, enhance sidewalks with decorative blocks and make sidewalks more accessible for those with disabilities. He said the five-phase project would cost about $380,000 and likely take about five years.

The commission unanimously approved Hartman’s request of $80,000 from the downtown tax increment financing district fund for the first phase of the project, but at a recent meeting announced it would like to hold off in order to reserve funds for upcoming economic development projects.

“We asked [Hartman] to consider putting it on hold,” said Logansport City Councilman Bob Bishop, president of the commission. “We need funds for redevelopment... that’s our purpose.”

The commission decided to wait on the streetscape project for one year. There was no vote on the matter, but rather a general consensus among commission members.

Logansport City Councilman Joe Buck, a member of the commission, said the funds would be better put toward economic development, which will create jobs and increase the city’s tax base.

Logansport City Councilman Charlie Hastings, also a member of the commission, said he was looking at the decision from a position of “livable-wage jobs, and we don’t have that in Logansport.”

Hartman, who has not started on the streetscape project, other than gathering quotes, respected the board’s decision.

“I’m fine with it,” he said.

Mike McCord, a nonvoting member of the commission representing the Logansport Community School Corporation, expressed his disagreement with the decision at the meeting.

“I can’t trust you guys for that,” he said to commission members regarding their pledge to revisit the streetscape projects in one year.

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