November 10, 2022
Ken De La Bastide, The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — Communities in Madison County must stay on offense and continue to prioritize infrastructure improvements and public safety to remain attractive to potential new businesses and residents.
That was the sentiment shared by several civic and government leaders who gave updates about projects in their cities and towns Thursday at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.
“We’ve used our American Rescue Plan money to drill new wells to increase our water capacity for the increased development that we have seen, and to capture any potential development in the future,” Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said.
Persistent inflation that has plagued the U.S. economy for most of 2022 has put a drag on plans to accommodate expected population and tax base growth in the southern part of the county, according to Pendleton Town Manager Scott Reske.
He noted that new home construction has slowed in the area — restrained in part by sinking sales prices and skyrocketing mortgage rates — with about 105 new homes built, compared with 185 last year.
“That growth that’s coming up to the southern part of the county from Indianapolis is going to be slower than we anticipated,” Reske said.
“We believe that rapid growth can be nothing more than cancer — if we don’t grow smart, then all you’re going to end up with is crowded streets, and the people who have lived there for years are not going to recognize their own town. We want to keep that in mind when we make those decisions getting ready for that growth.”
Elsewhere, water treatment, road improvements and police and fire equipment upgrades are helping city officials in Anderson to market the county seat to prospective new businesses.
Mayor Thomas Broderick, Jr. said the city has brought in nearly $650 million in new business investments, which have created about 1,600 jobs locally over the last six years.
“We continue to have new folks knocking on our door all the time,” he said.
Broderick said the Anderson Police Department plans to purchase 19 new patrol cars early in 2023, noting the department has replaced its entire fleet since the mid-2010s.
“We’ve changed our structure to make sure that every officer has a vehicle assigned to them individually,” he said. “That way, we don’t have to wear out the cars using pool cars.”
Alexandria officials are using several new programs to augment public safety efforts, with an emphasis on improved technology. Recent purchases of body cameras and a drone, Mayor Todd Naselroad said, will help improve emergency response times and keep officers accountable and safe.
“We’re making significant advances in the area of public safety,” he said. “The body cam program will help keep our officers and citizens safe. We have trained officers to use the drone, which will help many areas of the city, including police, fire and building and planning.”
Efforts throughout the county — including the planned completion of a 72-unit complex in downtown Elwood and a planned hotel development along Ind. 37 — are aimed at a singular goal, according to Clayton Whitson, president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce: Attract and retain new businesses and residents in the most efficient way possible.
“We have to give people reasons to want to live work and play in Madison County.”