Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
The concepts of progress and improvement are measured in a variety of ways.
Many times, it depends on your vantage point whether something is an improvement or a step back in your attempt to keep moving forward. The Interstate-69 project is one of those issues that can be viewed as a positive improvement for the community or a barrier, depending upon where the roadway is placed and how your life is impacted by this stretch of road.
I applaud the concept and appreciate the work that is being placed on finding the perfect route to place this roadway here on the Southside. There are no easy answers, and the time and convenience factor is immense. A great example is driving past Kokomo on U.S. 31, which is now a dream compared to the 11 stoplights that you attempted to time as you made your way north. Although if you talk to some of the business owners in Howard County, you may hear a different story from the loss of traffic near their establishments. There are pros and cons to every change.
Perry Township Schools is a dynamic, growing school district with strong graduation rates, rising achievement test scores and a diverse community structure that values the cultural differences that exist among our patrons. The district enrollment increased by more than 500 children this school year. We are projected to continue this rate of growth over the next several years. The community has a reputation for strong values and a sense of hometown community standards that simply are not replicated in many places in central Indiana.
I have had the good fortune to be invited to meet with a group of concerned citizens whose businesses are located along State Road 37. One proposal is to locate I-69 on State Road 37 and some interchanges along the route. If this occurs, it will have a huge impact on restaurants and businesses along the route. I am told they will be forced to move and quite possibly be forced to relocate outside Perry Township. The loss of assessed value and community support from these business owners simply cannot be replaced.
My background is not in road construction nor traffic pattern configuration, but I do know what it takes to transport children safely to and from school. The following are some facts that raise questions from my vantage point that need to be answered:
• We have more 100 school bus routes transporting 1,000-plus children across State Road 135.
• We have more than 400 Perry Meridian High School students who live on the west side of the proposed I-69 route and drive to and from school.
• Typically, there are three or four school events each week that are held during in the evenings and weekends that cause traffic congestion for parents attempting to go to their school and then return home. We have more than 250 families that cross State Road 37 to attend their children’s functions.
Taking into account just these three factual statements, we need some assurances that these concerns will be addressed.
The Indiana Department of Transportation will host a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, at Perry Meridian High School, 401 W. Meridian School, so the community can view the proposed options. I am looking forward to this meeting and hope to see you there.