Monday, August 07, 2006

Tear Down The Park And Bring On The Bar

The Fall Creek Place neigbhorhood has undergone quite a transformation in the past several years from a crime-ridden place once called Dodge City to a successfully revitalized neighborhood, which has brought a diverse group of people back into Indianapolis' inner city. Rep. Julia Carson (D) has been a major supporter of that effort. But what she is permitting to happen right under her own nose is nothing short of an outrage.

The Julia Carson Government Center houses Carson's congressional office, as well as office space for Center Township and a Key Bank branch office. But soon it will house a bar, and to make room for that bar, the city has given up a park adjacent to the building to make room for a parking lot for the bar--a park that opened just 6 years ago to provide a playground for the neighborhood's children. The Star's Will Higgins clues us in:

Al E. Polin Park, at 300 E. Fall Creek Parkway, is being dismantled, its playground equipment removed by Indy Parks and placed in storage.

Coming soon in its place: a parking lot.

That is the plan of investors who hope to open a restaurant and bar in the Julia M. Carson Government Center, adjacent to Polin Park.

They'd call the place 300 East. But first they need additional on-site employee parking. The space occupied by tiny Polin Park fits the bill. They'd lease it from Indy Parks, which has signed off on the arrangement.

Polin, 69, is philosophical. "Time moves on," he said. "Changes have to be made, and you just have to accept it."

Polin's reaction to the park's demise is quite disappointing. He seems to think it's okay to tear down the park because the bar's landlord will be Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer, who has decided to lease the space to business entity owned by Lacy M. Johnson, III. That would be the son of Lacy M. Johnson, II, who is a partner at the law firm of Ice Miller, Carson's long-time campaign manager and the Chairman of the Indianapolis Airport Authority board. Johnson, who lobbies the state legislature for gambling interests, has been accused in a recent lawsuit brought by a former airport manager of using his position as the airport authority's board chairman for old-fashioned political graft. The deal was obviously greased well in advance as the city park's department had already pulled the playground equipment from the park before the matter was even taken up by the city's Metropolitan Development Commission.

It is bad enough that Drummer doesn't have any more sense than to think that it's okay for a government building to have a bar, but he apparently thinks it's okay to discriminate as well. "It won't be a dance place," Drummer said. "It'll be a place where African-American professionals can go after work and relax and network and enjoy one another's company." That should make good grist for a future civil rights lawsuit against the township.

The real person in charge here, though, is Rep. Carson. None of these characters would have proposed this shady deal if she had raised an objection to it. There is very little green space as it is in this neighborhood, and the last thing we want to do is take away park space. According to the Star, Councilor Patrice Abdullah, who represents this neighborhood on the council said he'd "not done enough research on that particular proposal in order to give a yea or nay on the proposal." Yeah right--as if it even matters now that the decision has already been made. Thanks for standing up for the people in your neighborhood Patrice--another reason to make sure you're voted off the council in 2007.

Had Abdullah bothered to consult with his constituents, he would have heard from people like Laki Moore-Scott:

But Lakia Moore-Scott, 16, a Tech High School student who lives a block from Polin Park, doesn't care how classy the new nightspot would be. She liked the park. Often she'd take her nieces to play there.

"Why would they take down something that was for the children just to make a profit?" she said. Moore-Scott didn't know Polin Park was in jeopardy until a few weeks ago when she took some kids there. "It was just gone."

With crime in the city out of control, the last thing this neighborhood needs is another bar. In case these folks didn't notice, someone was shot in broad daylight just up the street at the Starbucks as a result of someone trying to steal a lady's purse. This much-welcomed recent addition to the neighboord may not last long if people have to worry about being shot or robbed. Carson, Drummer, Abdullah and Mayor Peterson would all do well to focus their attention on fighting crime instead of using our public lands to line the pockets of political cronies. And by the way, Polin has been assured by these folks he'll get his name on another city park.


Anonymous said...

The Julia Carson Goverment center and the Al E. Polin Park are not in Fall Creek Neighborhood. The neighborhood is bordered on the north by Fall Creek Parkway, and both of these are north of that.

Fall Creek Place has several parks within the neighborhood itself. Whether the neighborhood itself has any feelings on this, I wouldn't venture to say. They have an active website/discussion board, but I don't see any discussion of this issue on it.

Gary R. Welsh said...


If I stand at the front door of the Julia Carson Government Center and face south, I am facing Fall Creek neighborhood. I can walk across the street and over the creek and I'm in Fall Creek Place. The building is technically within what is known as Mapleton Fall Creek. Is there a point here somewhere? You don't care that the park is being torn down for a bar in a government building? Or it just doesn't concern you because it's technically across the street from your neighborhood? I wouldn't expect any discussion on their discussion board as they probably wouldn't have known about it before the Star wrote about it today. It wasn't exactly done out in the open.

Anonymous said...

You committed the immortal sin Gary. You dared to criticize Julia Carson. You should know better.

Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable. These people are shameless. I can't believe a government office building can have a bar in its building. We have laws against about everything else I'm surprised there's not a law against this.

Anonymous said...

I bank at that Key Bank branch in the Carson Government center all the time. I always thought of it being a part of the Fall Creek neighborhood. I know other people from that neighborhood who bank there and go to the Starbucks down the street. I don't necessarily have a problem with the bar, but I don't like the idea of getting rid of the park. I used to see young children playing in that park all the time. There aren't a lot of place to take children around that area.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting situation, touching on the ebb and flow of politics and power. Without question, especially for the gay community, philosophy can drive the selection of a political party.

But sometimes it is disgust. When my parents came of political age in and through the 1950's, corruption in Indiana had soiled the name of the Democratic Party, with no small amount of frustration over union corruption being a part of the mix. (The Democrats were not earning points either as the party of Southern Bigotry, a flag they have passed successfully to Republicans.)

Corruption knows no party lines, but can find its way way anywhere there is enduring power.

Lord Acton was right, of course. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We focus on the latter clause as a indictment of dictatorships, but the former clause applies everywhere, including in Indiana, and among everyone, regardless of religion, sex, or party. It is a regrettable human tendency.

Anonymous said...

What happen to our public safety mayor? Crime is out of control, and we add a bar in the very neighborhood where a lady was shot at the starbucks. 200 police hired, then we have a little tif with the police, so we don't hire for two years, dropping well below the original number you started with. Promised merger to save money, but wait, now it's not going to.

At this point someone needs to take down the welcome to Indy signs and replace them with welcome to Detroit II. Time for Bart to move on, take the overpaid Frank with you.

Anonymous said...

Several questions beg answers here:

1. Why was the original case filed with improper identifying petitioners?

2. Ice Miller represented the petitioner, which was, after alteration the Center Township Trustee. Was that done with public funds?

3. Was the idea to place a tavern (let's call it what it is) discussed at the Center Township Board level?

4. Was there competitive bididng for this "franchise" ?

5. Who was the city hearing officer who allowed this to occur?

6. Isn't that hearing officer the wife of the City-County Council Majority Leader? Aren't they political allies?

7. Why didn't she recuse herself from this case?

8. Why is she still there? This is not her first controversial decision. Remember the Whole Foods case on the far northside? She was the H.O. on that case, too.

9. If this moves forward as planned, will any profits be returned to the entity that owns JCGC, or at least to the citizens of Marion County or Center Twp.?

This is one more example of those in power turning their heads or tacitly winking at certain persons' outrageous lack of discretion and common sense.

The big question: how long will it continue?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anonymous 8:13, are you referring to Judith Hawley Conley? She was just appointed to the Juvenile Detention Advisory Board last night by the council. They also appointed Jim Bradford to the same board at the recommendation of Cale Bradford. Then they wonder what's wrong with our juvenile justice system.

I would appreciate anymore specific information you can share with us. Appreciate the post.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's the one...neighborhood activists all over the county are hoping she gets another job soon. They have complained loudly to their council members (well not all of them, for obvious reasons) Some have complained directly to the Mayor. He has heard it, and he and others are afraid to tackle this problem. She should never have been given the job, and now that she's handed down some absolutely awful decision, they can't get rid of her. Her ridiculous decision regarding Whole Foods up north caused a huge stink. Instead of dealing with her, the Mayor removed the county Dem chairman from the MDC, two weeks after the uproar.

She's completely incompetent in the current job, but no on will say it, because, guess what? Her husband is now Majority Leader. You know him...big voice, no content. In Texas that's called: "All hat and no cattle."
She routinely violates basic rules of evidence and procedure called for at the commission level.

All practical sense left the room when this Polin Park tavern was decided. It's arrogant misuse of power, plain and simple.

Geeesh...we're arguing about whether this is technically in Fall Creek? Get a doesn't matter where it's nonsense and it's taking away a small playground that was uniquely for little kids. They didn't ave to compete with overgrown kids dealing drugs around swingsets.

How do I e-mail you, AI??

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's You can also click on the link for "E-mail me" on the right column.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well then, Linda, her government website must be out-of-date. It shows her district office at 300 E. Fall Creek Parkway. See:

Anonymous said...

OK I'll bite.

Where is Julia's office now?

ANd it makes no difference where her office is, or Carl Drummer's. This entire deal stinks to higih heaven.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Her office is still in the Carson Government Center. Linda was given some bad information

Anonymous said...



Who: Congressional Candidate Eric Dickerson & Running Mates

When: August 10, 2006 Thursday 11:00 am

Where: Near The Julia Carson Center 300 Fall Creek Parkway, Indianapolis

Why: Indy Parks & Recreation removed playground equipment from a parking lot at the facility. Dickerson and his running mates join neighborhood parents and children to call for restoring the playground equipment and more importantly to cancel plans to open a nightclub inside The Julia Carson Center.

Anonymous said...


Mapleton Fall Creek: I've previously researched a considerable amount on the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood with hopes of trying to help drive its redevelopment forward. While conducting review of aerial photos going back to 1937 I came to a true realization. The building known as the Julia Carson Center Township Trustee building ITSELF seriously contributed to the demise of the prosperity and condition of neighborhood around it.

When the building was built, it destroyed 9 or more homes to complete its footprint and that of the "park." Later additional parking was "needed" so they destroyed another 12 homes to pave for cars to park. The trend continued to the north and more than 1.5 city blocks have been paved for parking lots that nobody parks on.

I recommend that a) the neghborhood encourage the tavern to NOT locate in this disgusting building, and instead open in the building just to the northeast on Central Ave. that is blighted and situated well for a neighborhood bar. b) the parking lots north of the Julia Carson center be purchased by the local non profit Mapleton Fall Creek CDC and redeveloped as mix of market rate and affordable single family housing. c) (aspirational) The Carson center itself be razed for asethetic purposes alone... and redevelop the property as mix of commercial and housing.

Lastly, I have to admit, as it was, that park was dangerous. Access to it for kids was across streets in all directions. It needed to go, but it should be replaced on Center Township Trustee owned property just to the north (the evil useless parking lots of which I write above) along with new residential units.

OK... I've said my piece.