Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley discusses public safety, infrastructure and more at annual State of the City address
By Nicole Davis
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley gave his annual State of the City address on March 12 at the Greater Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting, highlighting positive infrastructure improvements, an increased assessed value for the city and a lowered crime rate.
“My report to you today is no different than it has been for the last eight years,” Buckley said. “I have three priorities as mayor. The first priority is your personal safety. Infrastructure is the second priority. And the third priority is delivery of department services, quality of life and economic development. Those are the perimeters I work off of every year, and it will be the same way for the next four years.”
Leading with statistics from the police department, Buckley said that while crime is down, public safety remains a top priority.
“The biggest need for this city, as far as I’m concerned, is the construction of a new police station,” he said. “I happen to think we should do something. These men and women have been working in the same building since 1972. In ’72 they had 17 police officers. Now we have 35. It’s hard to process evidence, hard to talk to witnesses and hard to separate witnesses from suspects. I happen to think the city should take a look at this, this year.”
In 1972, officers at the police station on Churchman Avenue were sent on 500 runs. In 2019, they were dispatched on approximately 22,000 runs, Buckley said. The fire department’s calls continue to increase also, making almost 10,000 runs in 2019. Once city officials have discussed potential construction of a new police station, Buckley said they will look into the fire stations.
Relating to public safety, Buckley touched on the upcoming referendum which citizens will vote on this May. Beech Grove City Schools currently has one officer at the high school, and two additional part-time officers. The upcoming referendum will include seeking to place three additional officers within the city schools.
“As part of the referendum, the school would absorb 70 percent of the cost,” Buckley said. “I happen to agree with that. I think it’s good for the city, the school district and the parents who sit around and worry about what’s going on in the school. … This would really help with the relationship between the student and the police.”
In his speech, Buckley applauded the Department of Public Works for its financial responsibility, hard work of its employees and their efforts cleaning up after the tornado that hit last September. He recognized the parks department for its continued improvements on the park and community center programs, the senior center’s efforts helping the city’s aging population, and the city’s newest clerk-treasurer Jim Coffman on maintaining the city’s budget.
Buckley said he is also excited for this year because of upcoming infrastructure projects.
“Over the next 2-3 years, this city will receive almost $7 million in funding to make big infrastructure improvements we would never be able to perform,” he said.
Included, this spring, a roundabout will be constructed at Churchman and Arlington. That road will close around Memorial day and remain closed for at least 60 days. He said the Greenway project will go out for bid in August. Franciscan Alliance is purchasing the naming rights for this 2.2 mile trail which will include five trailheads and four bridges, set to go this fall.
Overall, Buckley summarized, “I’m happy with the direction of our city and I’m happy with the services we provide.”
Quick facts: Beech Grove State of the City
– In 2019, Beech Grove had the highest level of staff its ever had within the police department, including 35 sworn police officers and eight other positions within the police department. Beech Grove was ranked as the 5th safest city in Indiana.
– Last year, the Department of Public Works filled 55 potholes, used 62 tons of asphalt, regraded 61 alleys, replaced 44 signs, picked up 181 mattresses and boxsprings, delivered 153 new totes. More than 4,634 tons of trash and 470 tons of recycling was picked up.
– For 2020, the Department of Local Government Finance increased Beech Grove’s assessed value to $487 million. In 2012, that assessed evaluation was $325 million.