[sta_anchor id=”nickel-plate” /]IKEA recently bragged that they opened their store with no economic incentives from local government, proving it is possible to attract world-class businesses without incentives. Paying companies to stay and build in your community is truly a race to the bottom. Yet our elected officials regularly give millions of dollars in tax abatements to companies while making you shoulder the burden of making up for the lost revenue through the trash tax and other increases in fees.
We need to do a better job of selling Noblesville’s value to companies looking for a great city to do business in. I want companies to stay here, grow here, and thrive here, but they need to pay their own way just like you do.
Nickel Plate Railroad
Noblesville recently partnered with Fishers and the county on a plan to take out the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks and turn the right of way into a trail. I love trails. In fact I have advocated for them in my past two elections, even to the extent that I included an image of a bike on my campaign signs in the last election. We need more trails going to more places in Noblesville for a number of reasons. It would help relieve traffic congestion, improve the health of our citizens, improve the look of the city and add to our quality of life. Yes, trails are great, but it is a HUGE mistake to tear out the Nickel Plate tracks to create a trail.
Good governance requires active participation by citizens. You know what active participation looks like: people show up for public meetings, they let their elected officials know what they think, and they express themselves at the voting booth on election day. Engaged citizens hold elected officials accountable, especially at election time.
I know city officials have to make difficult decisions sometimes and everyone can’t always have what they want. But a responsive city government actually listens to its citizens and modifies its plans based on what they are hearing from the people. An arrogant and cynical government sees the people as an impediment to their plans and works to minimize comment so as not to upset their plans. That’s backwards and we need to change it.
Pleasant Street Bypass
The city is spending millions of dollars to upgrade Pleasant St. as a way to bypass downtown and move traffic more quickly for cars and trucks that want to avoid the cross traffic and congestion. I understand the rationale but I don’t understand why the city insists on taking a route that involves cross traffic and congestion rather than a more rural route that would emphasize speed.
The courthouse square was built in a time before cars when we valued the public space much more than we do today. Fortunately, city designers and engineers are starting to realize that designing our cities for cars is counterproductive. Cars don’t make a community, people do. So we need to reconfigure our public spaces to better serve people with less of an emphasis on cars.
We sorely need transportation diversity here in Noblesville. We need to prioritize walking and riding as well as cars, and run trails to places people want to go. Trails aren’t just for recreation. They ought to be viable transportation alternatives, designed to keep people safe while giving them an alternative to driving.
The Firestone plant was torn down nine years ago and we’re still looking at a chain link fence and barbed wire. I know this is a tough situation. Clean up will be expensive and dangerous. It may seem like the best alternative is just to leave it all in the ground and try to ignore it. But it’s right in the middle of town and I don’t think we can ignore it forever.
The best solution is to bite the bullet: clean it up the right way, haul away the poisons, scrub the land clean and put it back into productive use. It’s been nine years of neglect. It’s time to act. The proposed police station is a good start but that’s the easy part. It’s time to tackle the hard part.