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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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