What do you consider Terre Haute’s most underutilized asset to be?
It’s hard to argue against the idea that our riverfront is our most underutilized asset. One only needs to visit virtually any other city in the midwest with a river to see that our river has the potential to be an economic driver for Terre Haute. A properly developed river will not only provide recreational activities, it will attract new business, entertainment, and residential development. It will help us keep students here and attract young families. The key to developing the riverfront will be city government taking the lead in addressing brownfield concerns in the area. Until we can buy down the risk for private developers, progress will be slow and piecemeal.
What are your thoughts on the See You in Terre Haute Community Plan? As Mayor, how would you continue this community planning effort?
The Community Plan should continue regardless of who is elected mayor. Plans like this require a refresh periodically, so I would expect that to happen within five to ten years of its initial adoption, which was in 2019. In addition, if I am elected, I anticipate pushing for a new Comprehensive Plan for the community. I would expect these two plans to complement one another.
Great improvements have been made to Downtown Terre Haute in recent years. How would you continue to support this work? What further developments would you support?
I would like to see a master plan developed for the public spaces of downtown. Right now, sidewalks and other amenities vary widely in style and condition from block to block. Ideally the downtown will have a consistent look and feel as dilapidated streets and sidewalks are upgraded. We should focus on making downtown as pedestrian friendly as possible, especially on Wabash Avenue. The plan should also address how to encourage more students to spend time downtown. A master plan will address improved signage and wayfinding and study potentially changing one-way streets to two-way, both of which would enhance the visitor experience. This plan would provide a fiscally constrained schedule for improvements over a number of years. In addition to the above, it is time to get to work on a railroad grade separation in the downtown area. I intend to begin study and design on this project in my first year in office.
What do you see as the community’s needs in terms of housing? And what is your plan to accomplish this goal, including potential funding sources?
Studies show that Terre Haute is in need of moderately priced, quality housing. Among other initiatives, I will task the Department of Redevelopment to enact a new program to incentivize the construction of new homes in our older neighborhoods. The department has control of hundreds of lots in Harrison Township. In partnership with the private sector, homes should be built on some of these lots and be for sale to the general public. New homes in these areas will add assessed value, provide more housing close to essential services, and increase our population density. This will lead to stronger, safer neighborhoods and increased property tax revenue that would more than offset the net cost of the program. Startup money for the program is available through the American Rescue Plan Act.
What is your infrastructure improvement plan? And how will you pay for it?
Although the details of my plan are far beyond the scope of a short questionnaire, the basic concept will be to think in terms of long term improvement. That means thinking about how the different aspects of public infrastructure intersect and overlap, and then planning accordingly. That also means that we resist the temptation to put low cost band-aids on current substandard infrastructure that will not provide a long-term value. The key to success with this approach is to have good cooperation and communication between different public works departments and their various funding sources, as well as utility companies. If we can look ahead several years, we can be more holistic with improvements. By doing this, funds will be spent more efficiently and more can ultimately be accomplished with our funding dollars.
What value do you place on developing relationships with entities like the Chamber, as well as County and State officials? How would you envision a working relationship?
The City administration, including not only the mayor but his department heads and board appointees, must be integrally involved and coordinating efforts with the Chamber, the EDC, the CVB, the CIB, the ISBDC, Thrive West Central, Riverscape, United Way, Wabash Valley Community Foundation, Arts Illiana, and several others I haven’t mentioned here. My expectation is that we will have one or more people within the administration assigned to each organization who will be designated to attend their meetings and communicate regularly. This person would be representing the administration, would provide support, and would act as a conduit back to the Mayor’s
Relationships with County and State officials should be direct, frequent, and collaborative. I anticipate having face-to-face meetings with Commissioners and our State Legislators on a regular basis. We should have a good working relationship with INDOT, particularly our Crawfordsville District office, as well as other state agencies. My hope is that we will also be able to sit down with the Governor and our Congressmen regularly to discuss Terre Haute’s needs and plans.