Outlook on 2023: Southside mayors share plans for development and more

Looking ahead to the new year, Southside mayors share plans for development and more

Compiled by Nicole Davis

While the past year was full of ups and downs, local government officials say that 2023 is full of potential. Entering 2023, local Southside mayors share their goals and hopes for the coming year, emphasizing excitement to be out in the community for local events, large development projects which will make their neighborhoods an even more inviting place to live. Here’s to a great new year!

Beech Grove

Mayor Dennis Buckley

What do you feel was the biggest highlight to the city last year?

The biggest highlights I feel were three-fold: The opening of the Franciscan Trail, the opening of the Thompson Trail, and the groundbreaking for the new police station at the corner of Emerson Avenue and Main Street. All three projects will change the city for the better.

What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2022 ? How did it do so?

I feel our biggest challenge was to work with existing businesses to overcome the effects of Covid. We continued to attract new businesses, and existing businesses rebounded well. Also, we continued to have issues with food insecurity, and we found that more residents are struggling with food issues and the ability to meet the demands of everyday life.

What projects are you most looking forward to this year ?

I always look forward to improving the infrastructure in our city. We have a major paving project ($700,000.00) that will start when the asphalt plants open in the spring. This brings us up to 89 roads that have either been reconstructed or repaved since 2012. We are getting close to conducting a very large sanitary sewer project ($630,000.00) which includes rehabbing at least 78 manholes. We hope to hear good news concerning an OCRA grant ($600,000.00) for funding a very large drainage project located in the South Grove addition. In February, we hope to receive good news on the funding for a new roundabout located at the intersection of Arlington and Hanna ($1,700,000.00).

What community event are you most looking forward to?

I always look forward to the July 3rd fireworks program. It is the best show in Central Indiana. I’m very much looking forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new police station which should take place sometime in June or July. I’m also looking forward to attending events and walks on the Franciscan Trail.

What do you want your city to be remembered for in 2023?

I want our city to be viewed as clean and welcoming to all. It is OK to be kind to one another. I hope that Main Street continues to strive in 2023, and that our residents continue to make improvements within their property. I hope our beautiful city continues to move forward. This will be a nice gift to me as I leave office in 2024.

The opening of the Franciscan Trail was a major highlight for the city of Beech Grove in 2022. (Submitted photo)

Greenwood

Mayor Mark Myers

What do you feel was the biggest highlight to the city last year?

It is hard to pinpoint one highlight. There is so much happening in Greenwood. One thing I am particularly proud of is the opening of the Greenwood Fieldhouse. This is a public amenity in the heart of the city that has found a new use for a historic building. Already we are seeing it used a lot and in ways we had not envisioned.

What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2022 ? How did it do so?

There is no doubt the shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall was our greatest challenge. We grieve for the lives lost that night. It was unexpected and uncharacteristic for our community. Our first responders along with a brave young man who happened to be at the mall, prevented that tragedy from being worse. In the aftermath, we saw our community come together. I am so proud of our city for its response to that tragedy. From an operational standpoint, a challenge we faced, along with many other communities, was how do we manage increasing costs and inflation? We had to look long and hard at our budgets and ensure we were making smart investments while maintaining the quality services our community expects. I credit our team for also being creative in cutting excess energy and fuel costs and streamlining any redundant services. We know that the public entrusts us to spend tax dollars wisely and we do that.

What projects are you most looking forward to this year?

We have a lot of public safety and infrastructure investments in the pipeline for 2023.  Sometimes these are not the “fun” things that people see but they are the needed to make our community stand out. Personnel, sewers, roads, sidewalks, waterways…they make a difference. I am also excited to see our downtown revitalization ramp up with the opening of the new parking garage and set of apartments at The Madison. The public and private investment in the heart of our city is making an impact.

What community event are you most looking forward to?

We have such great events in Greenwood. My personal favorite is the Freedom Festival. It is a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate our community and country.

What do you want your city to be remembered for in 2023?

I want Greenwood to be remembered in 2023 for being a city on the move. Our continued growth and investment in public safety will be noticeable. Everything we do is about creating the best quality of life for our residents. This year we will deliver on those promises while continuing to keep taxes low.

Main Street between Old Meridian and Madison was closed in 2022 for construction, just one of many road improvements Greenwood made throughout the year. (Photo courtesy of Restore Old Town Greenwood)

Southport

Mayor Jim Cooney

What do you feel was the biggest highlight to the city last year?

The biggest highlight for  the city for 2022 was the agreement by the Redevelopment Commission with a developer to build a four-story, 92-unit apartment building at the Davidson lumberyard property on Southport Road across from the Perry Township Educational center. The development will improve a big area of downtown Southport and will spark additional development.

What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2022 ? How did it do so?

The biggest challenge we overcame in 2022 was communicating city information. Attendance at public meetings is still low, probably due to COVID. Our quarterly newsletter helped us get information out to citizens in a timely manner.

What projects are you most looking forward to this year ?

There are three projects that we are looking forward to this year. The apartment building project in downtown Southport, the Stormwater and repaving project on Southfield Drive, and the Stormwater and sidewalk project on South Street. Adding a sidewalk on South Street, as well as Stormwater improvements/repaving in Crossgate will be big improvements to the city streets.

What community event are you most looking forward to?

The Easter Egg hunt in the park. That event signifies the beginning of Spring and enjoying the outdoors. It’s fun to see the children hunting Easter Eggs and talking with the Easter bunny.

What do you want your city to be remembered for in 2023?

Substantial improvement and progress to make downtown Southport a destination as well as improvements to the existing stormwater system and city streets. These upgrades will make Southport a better community to live in.

Southport Mayor Jim Cooney says he looks forward to the city’s annual Easter event, signifying the beginning of Spring and time to get outdoors. (Submitted photo)