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IndyPL seeks to use eminent domain to acquire land for new Brightwood branch

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis Public Library is looking to build a new Brightwood branch.

But after negotiations have stalled with current business and property owners, the city may use eminent domain.

But those business owners still say they aren’t going away quietly.

“She needs to shut up and let us bring industry in here ourselves and quit meddling,” said Sheena Schmidt, speaking of Jackie Nytes, the CEO of Indianapolis Public Library.

Sheena Schmidt owns multiple parcels of land near where the library is looking to build, including three parcels the library has submitted an offer for.

Schmidt has owned the property on Sherman Avenue for 40 years. The land is directly across the street from the public library’s Brightwood Branch.

“There are employees here, and there’s people working,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt also questioned why the library was seeking her property.

“This is known, recognized as a heart of Brightwood,” answered Nytes.

Nytes said she’s tried negotiating.

“We started with the appraised price and we asked for a counter offer. We don’t have one,” said Nytes.

Schmidt said she was offered $35,000 for her three plots of land, but said it was a non-starter.

“I never asked for anything because when they called I said I do not want to sell,” said Schmidt.

That’s where eminent domain comes in. Governments can use eminent domain to take private property. But only at a fair price, and is usually reserved for desolate areas.

Schmidt said her land, that houses a church, isn’t an eyesore.

“Do you know there will be 250 Christians that won’t be able to go to church because of that?” said Schmidt.

Schmidt said other property owners were offered up to $60,000. She’s still unwilling to give up her land, but Nytes said she hopes Schmidt will open the book to negotiation.

“The trick is being able to talk about things rationally,” said Nytes.

A council committee unanimously decided Wednesday evening to postpone a decision until the October 12 committee meeting.

“(The postponement) gives all parties a chance between now and the next meeting date in October to reconvene and reconsider their positions and hopefully come up with a resolution where the issue of eminent domain will not be a matter that this committee will have to entertain,” said Councillor Stephen Clay.

The full City-county Council would have to vote on using eminent domain.

If they approve it will be the first time the library system has used eminent domain to acquire property.