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Panel advances city government plan to buy Broad Ripple Park Family Center

Indianapolis government discusses funding the purchase of the Broad Ripple Park Family Center

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A controversial proposal to use money from the Midtown Tax Increment Finance District to help fund the purchase of the Broad Ripple Park Family Center took a step forward Tuesday night.

The Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee passed the proposal, which will move to the consideration of full Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night.

The proposal has received pushback from Midtown community leaders who say the tax-increment finance, or TIF, district was created to be community-driven. In Indiana, tax-increment finance districts generally collect all property taxes for specific development, redirecting the dollars from local governments including schools, for a limited time.

“We did not know anything about this until the 11th hour of the situation,” said Mark Demerly of the Midtown Economic Council. “And we plead back to the city to find some other means of providing more of an equitable distribution of the TIF funds.”

Community leaders say the TIF district was created to help funnel some of the money collected from projects in the Broad Ripple area into other underfunded areas of Midtown. Some say using the money to buy the park’s family center will dry up most of the resources since there are only 14 years left of the limited 25-year TIF district.

“It’s very disappointing that the city’s had four years to come up with a funding source and only weeks before decided to drain a fund that was thoughtfully created by people sitting in this room,” said Emma Clust, the president of the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association.

A city spokesperson sent a statement to News 8 that said, in part, “The choice to support the purchase of the Broad Ripple Park Family Center is a measure of fiscal responsibility that furthers the Hogsett administration’s commitment to strengthening the Indy Parks System.”

The committee asked what the original funding source would be, and Joe Glass, the executive director and general counsel of the Indianapolis Bond Bank, did not have a clear answer. “So, I can’t speak to what was imagined several years ago but that was the determination that was made in the last several months.”

Some councilors had pushback about the initial plans to fund the purchase of the park’s family center.

“The way this has been put together, just seems pretty ridiculous that a better plan wasn’t already in place,” said Jared Evans, a Democrat councilor. “This is not a good situation that any of us want to be put in, to have to oppose neighborhoods and constituents all across the city. But, many of us are also in a situation where we are impacted if we don’t vote ‘yes’ and pass this in our own parks and I do not appreciate it.”

Ultimately, the proposal received a unanimous do-pass recommendation from the committee.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the City-County Building.