JEFFERSONVILLE — In an annual state of the city address Tuesday, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore talked about recent and future expected growth, and the plans that need to be in place to support it.
During a luncheon of the Jeffersonville Rotary Club at Indiana American Water, Moore addressed the residents and city leaders in the audience with words of gratitude and inspiration.
“Everyone in this room and many more have played a role in making Jeffersonville the city it is,” he said. “When I first spoke to you six years ago as your new mayor, I pledged to grow our economy and improve the quality of life for everyone.
“I am pleased to tell you that after six years, we’re fulfilling our pledge. I proudly stand here today to report that the state of our city is strong and getting stronger every day.”
In 2017, the city saw the start of the 10th Street widening project, a $23 million investment Moore said will have a huge impact on the planned commercial developments in that area. In 2018, the city will start the $6.3 million Holman’s Lane widening project.
Jeffersonville Commons, an 80-acre mixed use development on 10th Street near Interstate 265, is also gaining steam. One of three planned developments between Allison Lane and Interstate 265, it will open opportunities for new retail, restaurants and hotels. A new Kroger Marketplace is expected top open this spring as the anchor for the development.
Moore also spoke of the planned sidewalks along New Chapel Road and announced that he would be requesting that the city council also considers ones along Plank Road.
In 2017, the city has raised $1.5 million of the $1.8 million needed to save the John H. Schnatter – Nachand Fieldhouse, an 80-year-old structure that had suffered deterioration. The city also recently entered into an agreement with the current owner of the Masonic Temple, to help save the structure that was facing potential demolition.
QUALITY OF LIFE
With a population increase of nearly 6,000 in the past six years, Moore said it’s imperative to maintain a high quality of life in Jeffersonville.
Part of this means improved amenities in the city, and he said the up-and-coming arts and cultural district will be a destination that will not only transform the “North of Court” area (NOCO) for residents, but create a vibrant destination for visitors.
“NOCO will transform our downtown area even more drastically than Big Four did,” Moore said. “Our plan is to create an enticing and engaging place to live, work and visit along the Michigan Avenue corridor.”
He’s also committed to making the city more pedestrian-friendly — there are plans for a walkable corridor between Spring Street and 10th streets, and by the end of the year, Moore said there will be connectivity from the Falls of the Ohio, through Utica Pike to Charlestown Pike.
“That will be more than 10 miles of new sidewalks added to Jeffersonville since I became your mayor,” he said.
HOUSING AND EDUCATION
Greater Clark County Schools voted to close the two downtown elementary schools last year, and Moore supports the vision in place to rebuild another one downtown, which he says will help keep a prosperous downtown and place for all who live there to get a quality education.
“The heart of downtown Jeffersonville can’t afford to lose a school,” he said. “There are plans for at least 500 new residences in downtown over the next couple of years, but losing such an important amenity as a school will stop that growth.”
Eliingsworth Commons, a planned development near I-265 and Plank Road, will also account for more than 500 new residences in the city.
Growth also means more need for protection, and Moore reported that since taking office, the Jeffersonville Police Department has grown by more than 11 new officers to 85.
“It’s a renewed focus on proactive policing that’s making a difference,” Moore said, adding that he and other leaders want to ramp up fire protection at River Ridge Commerce Center as new businesses take root in the city.
Last year marked the entrance of POSCO, a $19 million steel manufacturing facility planned for River Ridge. It is the South Korean company’s second U.S. Location.
Ingra Micro Mobility also announced a planned 600,000-square-foot facility in River Ridge, and existing business Autoneum and American Fuji Seal announced plans for expansion.
Matt Owen, Jeffersonville city councilman and Republican candidate for Indiana State Representative for District 71, said he’s confident in the state of the city.
“I think we’re in a good place,” he said. “I think we’ve done a lot of things over the last six years that have started to turn around the way people think about Jeffersonville.”
He said the key to supporting the growth is making sure infrastructure and city amenities keep up with it.
“The biggest challenge in facing the growth is managing the growth,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re growing the right ways and in the right areas. [We are] trying to put priorities on how we allocate a budget in a growing city that needs more police officers, more firefighters, more people on the street department.
Dale Orem, who served as mayor of Jeffersonville from 1984 to 1992 and now serves on multiple city boards, said the planned, started and recently finished improvements all complement one another.
“It’s mounting things on top of one another to make a vibrant city,” he said. “I don’t think any one thing does it; it takes multiple efforts to get things done.”
And Moore echoed that in his closing comments.
“Whether it’s figuratively or literally, we are a city that’s connected. That connection is what sets us apart from other communities.
“We’re all in this together. Jeffersonville is strongest when we’re united.”