Tuesday, May 01, 2012
unanimously rejected a variance petition sought by Ersal Ozdemir for his Broad Ripple parking garage/retail development project, afternoon storms flooded the streets of the village as storm sewers became overtaxed. Ozdemir had sought a variance that would have allowed him to build below the flood plain, a move opposed by city planners and neighborhood groups. Mayor Greg Ballard gave Ozdemir, one of his largest campaign contributors, $6.5 million in taxpayer dollars for the project that was supposedly aimed at easing parking problems in the village. Only after the proposal was announced did the public learn that most of the parking spaces in the new parking garage will be used by ground level retail development planned for the site. A previous study had deemed the proposed site at the intersection of College and Westfield as ill-suited for a parking garage because of the triangular shaped lot on which the parking garage would sit adjacent to the busiest intersection in the village, posing line of sight and pedestrian safety concerns. Nonetheless, the Ballard administration chose this site among competing proposals in order to reward Ozdemir for the tens of thousands of dollars he donated to his re-election campaign. Ozdemir will have 100% ownership of the project and receive all of the revenues despite the significant public contribution to the project.