Council changeover

As Ed Bell moves to Beech Grove’s compliance department, Vito Mascari is appointed to fill the vacant city council seat

In the nearly three years since Beech Grove established its compliance department, the council has passed ordinances to help enforce cleanliness throughout the city in an effort to beautify the neighborhoods and make it more inviting to visitors, current and prospective residents.

Now one city councilor has gone from writing and passing ordinances to enforcing them.

Ed Bell stepped down from the Beech Grove council in February. He is now one of three part-time staff members with the department of compliance. Vito Mascari has been appointed by the Marion County Democratic Party to fill the vacant council seat.

Ed Bell

Ed Bell

A lifelong Beech Grove resident, Ed Bell was in his third term with the city council.

“The last election, I teetered on not running again,” he said. I’m a term limit type of person and believe any more than two, you’re usefulness can fade because you’re interest is possibly not as strong.”

But his passion for improving his hometown continues to run strong.

“I was the longest-serving council person,” Bell said. “Many of the ordinances that are on the books today, I helped vote in or wrote some of them. Knowing that I was going to benefit the city even more, rather than writing ordinances, making sure people are in compliance of them, I’m excited about it.”

Having graduated from Beech Grove High School in 1969, Bell went on to attend Ball State and Purdue Universities. He spent most of his career in auto mechanics – from a Chevrolet to an Oldsmobile dealer. After 18 years in that industry, he left and purchased a Snap-on Tools franchise. After four years, he sold the business and went to work for Service Contract Systems as a national service manager, where he retired.

Eventually he began working in fire inspection for Koorsen Fire & Security. During that time, in 2007, he ran for the Beech Grove city council, under the administration of Mayor Joe Wright.

“Like everyone else, they were upset with the administration,” he said. “I said I’d run for council. Lo and behold, I won.”

Through his two full terms and the past year, Bell said he is most proud to have been part of helping rejuvenate Main Street and seeing that project through completion. Around 2011, he played a part in getting City Hall fixed up, solving a mold problem in the building.

“I’m proud of my accomplishments, working for the city,” he said. “I’m proud of being a Beech Grove resident. I want the city to thrive and improve. We’ve come a long way.”

When Derek Blice, who helped to start the Department of Compliance, took a job opportunity in Amsterdam, Bell said he was interested in taking on that position. The part-time job would still allow him to do the things he enjoys, such as spending time with family, going to church or woodworking, doing stained glass, camping and more.

In order to apply, he had to resign from the council and from the Board of Public Works.

“Ed Bell has been a dedicated servant for many years and he will do well in the compliance division,” said Mayor Dennis Buckley. “The compliance division started about three years ago and we have made great strides in cleaning up the city but we have a ways to go. Ed has experience in inspection, especially on the fire prevention side, so it was a good fit.”

The city is cleaner, with the help of the department. One thousand ninety citations were written by the Department of Compliance in 2016 alone.

Winter is typically a slow time for the department; they’ll take phone calls of complaints which usually involve trash. It picks up in the spring when the grass starts needing to be cut. The compliance department does thing from watching houses that are empty, for squatters or vandalism, to checking for improperly-parked vehicles.

“We’re partners with the police now but we’ll be more of a role for them,” Bell said. “Whatever we can do, like tagging vehicles plates which have expired, that keeps them on the street to get the bad guys.”

In addition to joining compliance, Bell has also sworn in as a member of the redevelopment commission.

“The RDC is an important piece of the city operation, too,” he said. “Without them, there are things that could not be done.They’ve helped pave some of the roads for Beech Grove with some of the revenue they’re getting from the TIF districts. They’re critical to keeping the city running smooth. The Greenway will be their major accomplishment. Once it gets started and done, we’ll have a path from one side of the city to the other. It will eventually connect to the trails from Indianapolis and go as far as Greenwood. That’s how it’s looking. A lot of people love those trails, riding their bikes, running, jogging. It will be nice.”

Vito Mascari

Vito Mascari

Sworn in to serve Beech Grove as the District 2 city councilor, Vito Mascari attended his first council meeting on March 6.

“I’m excited to have an impact in this area,” Mascari said. “This is some of the most important political stuff because this is about what goes on in your street. I think the biggest challenge for me right now is trying to learn as quickly as I can, reading the paperwork, asking the questions and trying to learn. It’s my first soiree into city government. I’m just hitting the ground running and try to address each hurdle as they come, make calculated decisions.”

A lifelong Beech Grove resident, he went to Beech Grove schools through eighth grade, when he began attending Roncalli High School. He graduated in 2003 with a 3.9 GPA. He went to Purdue University for a year before transferring to IUPUI and graduating in 2008 from the Kelley School of Business with a degree in business management and minor in international economics.

After college, Mascari worked for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in the communication center, then went to Wellpoint (now Anthem) in customer service department for four and a half years. He currently works for Key Benefit Administrators, a third party healthcare administrator, in the marketing department.

Mascari purchased his house in District 2 of Beech Grove in 2009.

“I’m a pretty vocal advocate of the Grove,” he said. “There are things that are happening in Beech Grove that are great, but there are also things that need some work. The biggest problem in Beech Grove is there are a lot of tenants with no investment int he area. They’ll only be in the house two to three months. They don’t take pride in keeping the yard look nice and that just brings down property values. I’d like to somehow incentivize citizens to keep their properties up.”

Mascari said public safety, infrastructure and education are among his top priorities as a new councilor.

Though he was interested in the vacant seat, Mascari said he took a little time to learn all that it entails before “jumping in feet first.” He was officially sworn in March 6 before the first meeting.

“I liked this first meeting,” Buckley said. “He thought things through and listened really well. I think he’s going to give good input to the council as he gets acclimated. I look forward to working with him.”