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Indianapolis pitches case for jail on former GM plant site

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office is pitching a proposed criminal justice complex as an economic boon to near-west-side neighborhoods.

“This is a $500 million facility, plus $100 million economic impact,” Director of Enterprise Development David Rosenberg told a small audience Tuesday evening at the Mary Rigg Center on Morris Street.

About 35 residents gathered to hear the city’s case for building the new facilities on the former General Motors stamping plant property. The city would use 40 acres in the northwest corner of the 110-acre site, leaving the land that overlooks the White River open to another developer.

The criminal justice center would include a 3,500-bed jail, criminal and traffic courts, community corrections and probation operations, and sheriff, prosecutor and public defender offices. Rosenberg said it would generate 3,600 visitors a day, leading to other retail and office developments in the surrounding neighborhood.

But a few members of the audience fixated on the jail and what its presence would mean for the neighborhood.

“All in all, these inmates are being directly released into our neighborhood, where my children play. We’re [going to get] inmates in our backyard,” said Brittany Laux, who lives on Arbor Avenue near the former GM plant.

Another nearby resident, Rahnae Napoleon, said she thinks the jail will also attract businesses some consider unsavory, such as bail bondsmen.

Napolean and her husband, Jay, said they had high hopes for redevelopment of the GM site. “Where’s the vision?” Napoleon asked.

The GM property is owned by a court-created entity, the RACER Trust, which is responsible for cleaning up contamination and finding new uses. RACER officials say they’ve received five development proposals but won’t disclose details.

Rosenberg, who said he has communicated with RACER officials about the proposals, believes the criminal-justice center will enhance development on the rest of the property. “The developers we’ve spoken to are more than eager to have this,” he said Tuesday evening.

Ballard is recommending the GM site over airport property near the county line because it will reduce project costs by 10 percent to 15 percent, Rosenberg said. The GM site is advantageous in terms of road access, available utilities, wastewater management and parking, according to the city’s analysis. It’s closer to population centers and would have less impact on IndyGo’s budget.

The city will hold a public meeting focused on the airport property Wednesday evening, and on March 24 the justice center will be discussed at a meeting convened by the City-County Council.

Ballard’s office plans to issue a request for proposals, which will name the preferred location, by March 27.

City-County Councilor Jeff Miller, whose district includes the GM property, said Tuesday evening that the mayor’s office might need to put off issuing the RFP.

“I think we need more time to gel on the feedback,” he said.

During the meeting, Rosenberg debated with a few audience members who shouted their questions and comments. He said he’s willing to meet with west-side residents again, but he said that after the meeting, a “majority” of the audience members told him they would welcome the justice center because of the money invested, police presence and economic spin-off.
 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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