A discontented public was further enraged when news reports told of how the Ballard administration was holding hostage a plan to make much-needed improvements to Tarkington Park in a challenged neighborhood unless the city council went along with providing $5.7 million in taxpayer subsidies to a big campaign contributor, Browning Investments, to build a new Whole Foods store in the booming Broad Ripple Village.
In his latest column discussing the Tarkington Park redevelopment plan, Tully omits any mention of its funding being tied to approval of the Whole Foods store, which he squarely came down in support of in an earlier column after many neighborhood activists opposed placing an intensive development plan that included yet another grocery store in an area that already has grocery shopping alternatives at the site awaiting redevelopment. Incredibly, Tully uses this column space to question using TIF funds to redevelop Tarkington Park while expressing no concerns for using TIF funds in an area that is already booming with development.
But as much as I want to jump on board with the plan, there’s a glaring issue that must be addressed. It’s an issue that mars so many of the social and governmental programs that many of us support: They too often treat symptoms and not core problems. They too often bring short-term help but not fundamental long-term change. They cost taxpayers dearly but don’t produce the results they deserve.
Tarkington Park’s biggest problem is not that it lacks a splash park or a stage. Its biggest problem is that it’s tucked into an area that, while close to wonderful neighborhoods, has been tagged justifiably as dangerous. Just across 38th Street, among the gas stations and fast-food joints, drug dealers and gang members have filled certain blocks with crime and violence. Last year alone, police were called to a pair of gas stations a block or so from the park more than 800 times . . .
But the problems facing Tarkington Park go much deeper than money. If families felt safe and secure, the park even as it is now would be filled most nice afternoons with children swinging, playing and running around. The problem for Tarkington Park is that the deeper issues facing the neighborhood to the south have scared away park users and business investors. And when compared to park redevelopments that have truly improved neighborhoods in other cities, such as Cincinnati, this investment is actually far too small.
Let’s improve the park. But before the checkbook is opened, let’s make sure we do everything possible to improve the neighborhood’s deeper problems.So let's get this straight. Tully wants us to do more research before spending money on public improvements in a blighted neighborhood, but he's all for borrowing nearly $90 million and writing a check to a Turkish businessman to build a new soccer stadium we need as much as another hole in our heads, or writing a check to Browning Investments for $5.7 million to build a chain grocery store in an already over-developed, booming part of town. Has this guy drunk so much of the corporate welfare Kool-Aid that he's incapable of rational thought? And Gannett wonders why everyone is dropping their subscriptions to the Star.