EDITORIAL: Input will shape Tell City’s new comprehensive plan

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A headline Thursday announcing that Tell City will receive a $49,500 planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs brought welcomed news. The opportunity to chart the community’s future direction for the coming decade is one not every city, town or county is afforded and will benefit not only Tell City residents but everyone in Perry County as well as those who work or frequently visit Tell City.

We were happy to learn there will be significant public input into the development of a formal comprehensive plan for the city, through community meetings and a survey. The News pledges to share news of those input opportunities as they become available in 2012.

There are several areas we would like to see addressed in the comprehensive plan and we encourage the steering committee that will soon be appointed to oversee the effort to consider them as priorities.

Seventh Street: Mayor Barbara Ewing has already said the comprehensive plan will address likely development along Seventh Street. A portion of land owned by the city is optioned to Owensboro Medical Health System and it’s our understanding that the health-care company has until sometime in the latter part of 2012 to decide if it will purchase land north of its existing medical center.

There are other sites not owned by the city that could be the heart of downtown development projects. The former Swiss Plywood property and the former Tell City Feed and Grain site are examples that come to mind. Also, Old National Bank is trying to sell lots fronting Seventh Street next to The News’ press building.

Those sites offer immense opportunities to the city and if properly developed could help boost the health of the city’s center. The new plan could identify what projects – commercial, retail or residential – that would be preferred in the area.

Annexation: We’d also like the comprehensive plan to take into consideration the likelihood of city annexation. Expanding the city’s limits has been a political hot potato in recent years and to our knowledge there’s been no effort at annexation in recent years.

Many remember the major push Gayle Strassell made as mayor but that issue failed to find support by the city council when some of the residents whose homes would have come into the city protested.

Several city leaders have since pointed to the need for reasonable annexation but those words, at least thus far, have not turned into action.

We think Tell City must grow reasonably and that means annexation must be brought up, debated and pushed through.

Transportation: Other issues a comprehensive plan should address include transportation, such as the need for some sort of connector route that would allow large trucks to bypass Main Street to reach a Seventh Street warehouse used by ThyssenKrupp Waupaca.

Semis that transport items to and from the warehouse could have an access road that would perhaps allow them to turn onto Schiller Street instead of traveling into the heart of downtown.

We’d also like to see a turning lane near the former Thriftway building, which is also used by the foundry for warehouse storage.

Other transportation-related projects could include new walking and bike lines, and the impact of a new hospital on traffic flow.

Housing-Business Development: A comprehensive plan should also address ways to encourage housing development, something that has begun with the city's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. We’d like nothing more than to see new homes constructed in the city each year.

A plan could address which areas could be targeted for homes and how the city might provide incentives.

A plan should also include a call for ways to help small business owners who move to or expand in the city and a look at the status of the city’s utilities, health care and public safety, including police and fire protection.

A new comprehensive plan is important to everyone. Plan now to share your input. We promise to let you know how to get your opinions heard.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. E-mail us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.