Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard came to the University of Indianapolis to present the 2014 State of the City address on Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.
Mayor’s Office Director of Communications Marc Lotter said the mayor was no stranger to the campus. He also said that selecting UIndy for this year’s speech fit directly into the mayor’s new initiatives.
“There is so much great stuff going on in the UIndy area right now [that] we thought it was the appropriate venue to pick this year,” Lotter said.
In his speech, Ballard referred to the university as one of the great institutions of the South side and talked about all the recent renovations that have been made to improve the area.
“In the last few years, the city has been working with the university to invest nearly $10 million in streets, sidewalks and bike lanes,” Ballard said. “Institutions want to have the ability to affect the neighborhoods around them, and part of that is why Hanna Avenue got done the way it got done. It provided a better entrance point for the University of Indianapolis.”
Ballard announced that the city of Indianapolis plans to contribute an additional $1 million in community development funds to UIndy’s plan for a new health center and University Heights Park, which are part of the five-year $50 million development plan.
Ballard said that he believes that UIndy President Robert Manuel was “pretty aggressive” and “bold” in pushing for the South side development area.
“You need somebody pushing the envelope all the time. That’s how organizations improve,” Ballard said. “I really appreciate what he [Manuel] has been doing around here. He has created a lot of energy.”
Recent improvements to Hanna Avenue, Ballard said, illustrate the changes that his initiative aims to accomplish. This plan, introduced as Rebuild Indy 2, will restore deteriorating thoroughfares, residential streets, sidewalks, bridges and other city assets. According to Ballard, it is a “sequel” to the 2010-2013 $500 million Rebuild Indy project.
“Rebuild Indy 2 will allow us to build sidewalks to keep children safe. It will allow us to resurface every road in the city that needs it most. It will repair bridges, build new trails and upgrade parks,” he said. “Ultimately, it will allow us to improve the places where people live and work without raising taxes.”
Overall, Ballard said that the strategic plan for the city’s future all focuses on the theme of “Live Indy.”
“It is those two simple words that should drive all of our long-term decisions,” Ballard said. “Will an action make Indy a more attractive place to live or do business? Will it help us retain a person, a family or a business that already calls this great city home?”
Ballard’s push to revitalize Indy’s urban areas in order to convince the younger generation to “Live Indy” involves the building of a new Downtown Transit Center for IndyGo, moving the current Ohio Street terminal to the southeast corner of Washington and Delaware streets. Currently, groundbreaking for this project should take place in the fall, with completion scheduled for late 2015.
Another project focuses on the Broad Ripple Canal, where the city wants to enhance the public canal walk and add apartment units and more retail space.
The projected revenue from the Broad Ripple project will go to repay development bonds for that project and for another large improvement project in the Tarkington Park area.
With all of the announced projects and talk about making Indianapolis a better place to live, Ballard tailored his remarks to the next generation of Indianapolis residents. He appealed to young people with his projects and his words.
“I know Hoosiers are humble, but be proud Indy,” Ballard said. “Be determined to make the next decade in our city better than the last. Be an ambassador for all things that make Indy a great place to live, to work and to raise a family.”