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Mass Ave landlord under fire after concerns about ‘element of people’ at bus stop

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The owner of a building along Massachusetts Avenue is under fire after a controversial statement he made when opposing a new IndyGo bus stop.

The people behind The Eagle say the man who owns their building, John Knapp, does not speak for the restaurant. Though according to their statement, they share some of his worries about the new 90-foot bus stop that will be right in front of The Eagle’s patio.

A Super Stop was unanimously approved to be installed on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Delaware Street, replacing the old BlueIndy electric car charging stations after that service was shut down in May 2020.

Photo courtesy: Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission

“It’ll be a place where multiple IndyGo routes converge and it will allow two buses to wait there and it will have enhanced features,” said Lesley Gordon, vice president of marketing and communications at IndyGo.

In an email sent to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission as public comment, Knapp listed his concerns about the stop going nearby, including drainage issues, fumes and noise from the buses. He also wrote that “customers coming to Massachusetts Avenue are not taking the bus to do so. This will bring a different element of people to the historic corner. I am worried that this will ruin a historic area.”

“I thought it was bigoted — what was the biggest word I could think of — racist or classist. But either way it gave me the impression that I am not wanted on Mass Avenue whether I am spending money or not,” said WildStyle Paschall, a local artist who rides IndyGo buses.

Paschall feels personally offended by Knapp’s comment as someone who uses public transit often.

“I am ashamed to admit this, but I have ridden a bus and eaten at The Eagle before. I will never do it again,” said Paschall.

Delaware Street is already one of IndyGo’s busiest corridors, running right past The Eagle’s patio.

“We serve a vast array of people, and we know that a lot of those people are people that come to eat and enjoy entertainment as well as people that come to work in this area,” said Gordon.

“This isn’t about bus fumes, diesel and noise. This is about who has access to public spaces and who they don’t want around them,” said Paschall.

After outrage surfaced over the comment on social media, The Eagle tweeted a statement saying, “Our landlord has no connection with our business other than collecting rent.”

In their tweet, The Eagle reiterated concerns about the fumes from the buses leaking onto the patio.

IndyGo has switched to clean diesel buses and also has a fleet of hybrid buses that are going to be delivered this year. IndyGo also worked with the commission to address concerns before the stop was approved, including improving the drainage in the area around the stop, the public transportation corporation said Monday.

Knapp reached out to News 8 with an updated comment clarifying who he was referring to when raising concerns of the “element of people” that he fears the stop would bring.

To whom it may concern,

I had expressed my opinion and concerns in regards to the Indy Go Super bus stop on Delaware Avenue. My language and statement in reference to a different element of people was in regards to those individuals who target these hubs for criminal behavior. The working class, commuters, and citizens of Indianapolis were not, and never were the issues of concern. The criminal element who target these super hub locations and citizens were the safety concerns and element of reference. I first hand have witnessed the substance abuse and physical assaults that have occurred at bus hub locations in the area over the twenty years I worked in the Mass Ave community.

I worked for two decades in this community and neighborhood helping to create jobs and hiring individuals based upon their character as human beings. I am truly sorry to anyone who felt offended by the statement. I did not convey the message well and I am truly sorry. I do hope the project is a success and these safety concerns are addressed.

John Knapp, Alumni LLC