Senior staff writer
Beech Grove City Councilor David Mobley wanted to shut down the city’s Redevelopment Commission a few years ago because many of its meetings were argumentative and sent the wrong message to developers. Donald Webb, who was the RDC president in 2013, admitted, “We got nothing done; it was so dysfunctional.”
Most members, including Webb, had threatened to resign at the end of 2013.
The RDC’s disconnect hampered ongoing talks with representatives of the NRP Group, co-developers of an $8.8 million, 60-unit complex for seniors, which is under construction at what is known as the Rock Pile.
Only 16 months later, the commission is drawing compliments from Mobley and other councilors.
Under Webb’s leadership, the RDC has cleared the way for development of the Rock Pile, redevelopment of the landfill property and continued progress on the removal of wireless infrastructure left over from Mayor Joe Wright’s administration.
“My goal is to work for the betterment of the RDC,” Webb told councilors earlier this month. “My goal is to build up the RDC, not tear it down.”
The commission brought in consultant Frank Nierzwicki to draft a report that contained the following recommendations:
• Update the Beech Grove redevelopment plan, review the information and make changes.
• Produce a capital improvement program.
• Develop a form for developers that they can fill out 10-14 days ahead of making a presentation in front of the RDC, a procedure that would allow commission members to review projects.
• Consider memberships with appropriate professional organizations.
• Host at least one annual public educational workshop.
• Complete annual reports required by the state and have a specific schedule for meetings.
“It is important to keep the momentum positive and going forward,” Nierzwicki said. “You are off to a great start. I am very impressed with the progress made by the Beech Grove Redevelopment Commission over the past year. You have come a long way in creating trust and respect within your community. Remember, it is very important to have local ‘champions’ that can help in achieving your goals.”
Former RDC President Joe Griffin had professed the need for more public input into the commission, a new redevelopment plan for the city and to make sure procedures had been followed by the NRP Group.
The RDC consists of Webb, Vice President Ron Moat, Secretary Cathy Chappell, voting members Jannis King and Mac Bellner and non-voting members Tammy Storey and Jennifer Spitz.
The commission is looking into the redevelopment of some streets, improvements to sidewalks and trails and future planning.
The organization is also working with Mayor Dennis Buckley on the future of St. Francis Hospital on Albany Street.
Beech Grove has no planning department but communicates with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, which is working on the Indianapolis 2020 Project.
Beech Grove has a spot on the Indianapolis Planning Organization, which makes transportation and funding decisions for the larger metropolitan area, including adjacent counties.