By Angela Norris
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley, in his eighth annual state of the city address, highlighted the success of the previous year’s priority on public safety and discussed his goals for the continued progress within the city. The address, held March 14 at Hornet Park Community Center, was hosted by the Greater Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce.
Department of public safety
“Our most important priority is the delivery of public safety in our city. As in previous years, our public safety departments make up a large portion of our total budget,” Buckley said. “In 2018, we raised our staffing levels for both the police and fire departments to their highest level ever. Our total crime reporting through the FBI shows a decrease in crime from 2017 by 4.8 percent. This is significant based on what is happening on the outskirts of our city.”
Department of public works
Buckley reviewed the progression of the Beech Grove Department of Public Works. “In 2018, our department of public works once again performed at a very high level. The department was presented with more new equipment and continued upgrades to the buildings and grounds. The city purchased a new trash truck that improved our fleet and we finally replaced our old trash truck that was purchased back in the early 1990s,” he said.
Department of compliance
The current vehicle that the department of compliance uses is the old battalion chief vehicle, used by the Beech Grove Fire Department. The goal for 2019 is to repurpose one of the fire department’s administrative vehicles and place it in service with the department of compliance.
The department of senior services
The Beech Grove Senior Citizen Center continues to add programs to assist the older citizens. Transportation to the grocery store, doctor’s offices, local hospitals, and other local shops will continue. The local Lowe’s donated items and installed a new dishwasher in the kitchen as part of their community volunteer program.
Department of parks and recreation:
In 2018, the Indiana Historical Society held a ceremony in Sarah T. Bolton Park and installed a historical marker to recognize the historic area.
“In 2018, our park system received a $13,000 Patronicity grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Association (IHCDA) to help offset the cost of playground equipment for Sarah T. Bolton Park and Challis Park,” Buckley said. “This money was matched by the proceeds from the mayor’s dinner for the parks held in October. In early 2019, our redevelopment commission voted to fund the remaining balance so the parks department can purchase new playground equipment at both Sarah T. Bolton Park and at Challis Park (approximately $79,000.00). This will replace the current playground equipment, which is 20 years old.”
Buckley then addressed the significance of the Greenway project. “In 2019, we look forward to doing the final paving work around Sarah T. Bolton Park so we can begin work on the 2.2 mile ‘Franciscan Trail’ Greenway. The Greenway is set to be bid out any time after July 1, 2020. This $3.3 million project will completely change our city and next to the reconstruction of Main Street, will be in my estimate the most important project that we have done to date,” Buckley said.
In 2018, the paving program continued to make improvements for rebuilding the infrastructure. When paving was completed in 2018, 55 roads and parking lots had been paved since 2012.
INDOT, MPO and community crossings grant program
Funding commitments were continued from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization and INDOT through the Community Crossings grant program. Upcoming projects include the Thompson Road sidewalk project and the 25th and Churchman avenues roundabout.
“Since we began in 2012, we have become home to over 100 new businesses,” Buckley said. He addressed the upcoming plans for the local business community such as Main Street, the St. Francis property and the Industrial Park at Arlington Avenue and Big 4 Road.
What’s expected in 2019
Buckley concluded his speech by addressing the city’s goals for 2019:
- Continue to provide quality services afforded for all residents of the city.
- Continue to focus on responding to problems associated with drug abuse and the underlying problems that cause drug abuse.
- Continue to invest in the personal safety of each resident and all of our dedicated employees.
- Investments must continue in all departments, especially the police and fire departments.
- Continue to rebuild infrastructure and continue to fix drainage problems.
“We have done such a good job of paying off our debt and within the next three-four years, our civil city and redevelopment commission will not have any long-term debt,” Buckley said.