Ask The Mayor

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong

It's your last chance in 2009 to talk to Fred Armstrong. Submit your questions here!

Delayed Indoor Sports Complex Could Begin Construction in Spring.

A $12.5 million indoor sports complex construction project in downtown Columbus, delayed for nearly a year, could finally begin in the spring.

That’s according to Mayor Fred Armstrong.

City officials are still waiting on word from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which has ordered the site cleaned after it was discovered a creosote plant stood on the property before burning in the early 1970s. Last month the city received a $300,000 state grant to address the issue.

The Chicago-based company planning to build the facility, CAEC Team, has been in contact with the city’s Redevelopment Commission on a weekly basis. The city’s issues with IDEM withstanding, Armstrong says CAEC is also having issues with financing the project.

“If they were going to pull out altogether I’m sure they would have said that by now and we would go in another direction. But I think caution is the word and I think once they get their plan put together and presented to the bank, hopefully it will all work,” Armstrong said.

The complex is currently scheduled to open in November.

Trash Ordinance Passed, Recycling Issue Remains Unresolved

The Columbus City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that will charge households for trash pickup but did not make a decision on curbside recycling. The measure passed with only one nay vote, despite dozens showing up to the meeting to voice their concerns.

Beginning January 1, households will choose between three different sized toters, the cheapest costing 10 dollars a month and the largest running 16 dollars.

The council has pledged to address curbside recycling in January. Armstrong, who himself only recycles some of his trash, says tipping fees at landfills do not push cities to pursue curbside recycling.  He says the council will meet with council members after the New Year to present plans the council could potentially want to purchase for the city.

“The problem is we’ve got to come back now at a later date with accurate numbers. We’ve got four companies we’re going to be talking to. We’re going to make sure every t is crossed and every period is there at the end of the sentence to make sure we’re not off anything,” Armstrong said. “This is about money. Cities do not and will not have the money in the next couple of years.”

Columbus’s city budget has decreased 16 percent from two years ago, prompting the council to pursue a trash fee and potentially a recycling fee due to declining revenue brought about by changes in property tax laws.

  • lindseyl

    I want to talk about a pardon from the mayor about a misdemeanor I committed in 2004 for disorderly conduct. I have a charge of conversion now, that I got when I stole from my job at a grocery store. I of course lost this job, but now have another one where I am much more appreciated. I care for people with mental and physical disabilities. I want to file for a DPA for the conversion charge, but I never had the disorderly conduct 5 years ago expunction requested. I never failed any tests during my probation,and was non reporting because I was a person that my probation officer thought would stay out of trouble. I was 19 years old, and lived on my own at that time, and was scared of getting hurt while at a cook out, this is how I received that charge.Every since I have been a upstanding citizen, until now 5 years later. I am now in college to be a teacher, and have been a substitute teacher for the last 3 years. I have a daughter, husband, and we own our home. We are not people to get into trouble, it was a very hard week and I stole shampoo, and meat for dinner. Now I am facing the consequences that I knew would happen if I were to be caught. I have faith that I can take care of this in one way or another, and I have been reading on what I can do. That is why I am hear, wanting to discuss this issue with you, Mr Mayor. I am very disappointed in my self as is my family for not asking for help and doing what I did. I have faith in the court system, and know that when I am judged by the one person I care about, I will be forgiven, but while I am hear on earth, I can only pray in the court system to give me a fair trial. I did not know I had to file in 2004 for this to be removed, now I am not eligible for the DPA program because of the disorderly conduct in 04. I am 26 years old, and I have two charges, that I am afraid will haunt my family, and my dreams for this life. I want to know from you Mr. Mayor, what can I do, and if you can, how can you help pardon me in this situation? I know you talk to the people every month, and this is my question and request for information from you. Sincerely, Lindsey.

  • lindseyl

    My name is Lindsey, and I am ready to listen in right now to the Mayors podcast. I hope that my questions are reconized. Lindsey L.

  • Mrs. Lindsey

    My daughter wants to know when the new park will be available to use, and how many children will be allowed to play at one time? I also wanted to know if there will be a activity area for the sensory play?

  • Mrs. Lindsey

    That round about has caused many tire issues with many people, and it also creates a scary right of way that people thinks they have, in which causes accidents. I think the round about was a way to show we have road ways like bigger cities, but its such a small round about, it makes no difference.

  • Mrs. Lindsey

    My name is Lindsey, and I am ready to listen in right now to the Mayors podcast. I hope that my questions are reconized. Lindsey L.

  • Mrs. Lindsey

    My daughter wants to know when the new park will be available to use, and how many children will be allowed to play at one time? I also wanted to know if there will be a activity area for the sensory play?

  • Mrs. Lindsey

    That round about has caused many tire issues with many people, and it also creates a scary right of way that people thinks they have, in which causes accidents. I think the round about was a way to show we have road ways like bigger cities, but its such a small round about, it makes no difference.

  • theller

    Responsible city and county officials should cancel the ColumBUS transit center under construction at the Mill Race Senior Center. Right now.

    The contract with Milestone Construction should be halted immediately and the money should be returned to the federal treasury. That would be a far more productive use than spending it on a transit center that only perpetuates ColumBUS' inefficient and unproductive services.

    Spending $888,815 of 'stimulus' for this hasty, ill-considered, poorly-located and unattractive facility in a far corner of a parking lot will be a waste of taxpayer money from Maine to California. Let's not insult our neighbors and friends by wasting their tax money on an unproductive facility.

    Why should local politicians say “No Thanks” to this “free” federal stimulus money? Because it's the right thing to do. The transit center offers no advantages to anyone except those who want their ribbon-cutting picture in The Republic's “Looking Back” feature a couple decades hence.

    Why are there no advantages? Aren't all capital expenditures justified by the savings they enable? Unfortunately, that's rarely the case with transit services.

    Here's what I've learned:

    The ColumBUS service is extremely unproductive;
    That lack of productivity owes to its reliance upon transit centers (not one, but two!);
    Transit centers create inefficient, inconvenient service;
    Inefficient, inconvenient service results in low ridership, unproductive assets (the buses) and high costs with little 'bang' to show for the buck.

    It costs ColumBUS over $8 for every person-trip. Other cities the size of Columbus do it for half that amount — and they serve two to three times more riders. What's their secret? What do they know that we don't?

    This past week, I've twice witnessed a group of school kids ride to the downtown transit center from 25th Street in northeast Columbus on one early-morning bus run. They then sat and waited ten minutes until the bus that travels toward Columbus North HS left the transit center. I figure it took them 52 minutes to travel just 2.7 miles from where their trip started on 25th to where it ended on 25th. That works out to 3.2 miles per hour!

    Their long, arduous journey just to get a couple miles down one of our town's major thoroughfares is a direct result of ColumBUS' reliance upon the transit-center concept, where all bus routes converge and where anyone who needs to transfer to another route can do so only there (an 'opportunity' that arises only once an hour.) This is what makes ColumBUS so unproductive and inefficient.

    I can't imagine how difficult ColumBUS must make their trip home in the afternoon.

    The experience of these students isn't unique. Many other riders also face long, unnecessarily circuitous bus rides to and from their destinations. Those long rides don't well serve those in our community who don't have cars (e.g. youth, elderly, fixed-income, low-income families) yet still need to conduct the same ordinary activities (e.g. grocery shopping, getting to work, etc.) to conduct their daily lives that the more-fortunate rest of us with cars do.

    The system ridership data I've recently examined supports my conclusion that ColumBUS' low productivity (high cost and low ridership) traces directly to its dependence upon transit centers.

    The worst effect of transit centers is that they destroy continuity of transit service along a community's major thoroughfares. As those high school kids know, no ColumBUS bus travels along 25th Street for more than a few blocks at a time – and then only once an hour. It's even worse along National — and Central, too.

    Yet these thoroughfares are where a lot of our community's jobs, schools, food and drug stores and many, many services are. These are important areas of town that, along with medical facilities, should be well-served by transit but aren't because ColumBUS buses are too busy circling to and from distant transit centers.

    Columbus needs to get over its edifice complex (“build it and they will come”). Our public officials must come to realize that a community is more than just fancy new buildings for out-of-town visitors to photograph from tour buses. Our officials need to ensure that capital expenditures from our -and everyone's- tax dollars actually produce efficient services of lasting value. The new transit center fails this standard. It will only enshrine a service concept that undermines efficiency and convenience.

    Let's return the money for the transit center to the treasury and turn our energies instead to redesigning our city's transit system. It needs to be efficient, convenient, productive — and worthy of our pride and our tax dollars. Redesigned transit service would serve our community and our nation much better than spending almost a million on an unproductive “free” facility.

    Here are the five local elected officials, the MPO, who can stop this wasteful project and send this money back to the treasury. Be a patriot, call them today. Tell them we don't need an unproductive transit center — and we sure don't need no borrowed “free” federal dollars to build one. Tell them loudly.

    Martha Myers, City Council President 376-5658
    Paul Franke, Bartholomew Co. Commissioner 379-1515
    Sue Paris, Bartholomew Co. Councilor 342-6651
    Dave Fisher, Planning Commissioner 376-8346
    Fred Armstrong, Columbus Mayor 376-2500

  • theller

    Daniel-

    By the time of your show today, I will have spoken with Mayor Armstrong about the unproductive, inconvenient service pattern of ColumBUS. So, he won't be 'taken by surprise' if you ask a question about something that hasn't already appeared on the front page of The Republic.

    I encourage you to raise this matter with the mayor. The transit center is a pure unadulterated waste of money, no matter how “PC” it may seem to be. Not all things transit are worth spending taxpayer money on.

  • theller

    Daniel – I've just returned from meeting with Mayor Armstrong.

    While he had access to more current ridership than I did, it still indicated that ColumBUS service costs $7 a ride. That's still head and shoulders above the $4 average cost per ride of similarly-sized cities with bus operations.

    ColumBUS's hub-and-spoke system -reliant upon a timed-transfer transit center concept- makes for inconvenient service, thus low ridership and low productivity of the city's bus fleet.

    Yet, the mayor insisted that he will go ahead and build a nearly million dollar ($900,000) 100% federal stimulus funded transit center in the far corner of the vast parking lot being constructed at ehe new Mill Race senior center.

    Apparently, he's a loyal Democrat, determined to waste taxpayer money Congress fire-hosed out upon the American landscape as part of the massive (and massively wasteful) $787 Billion stimulus bill.

    Columbus, with all its ongoing construction downtown and the widening of 17th Street and soon US 31 too, HAS NO NEED to stimulate its construction industry. But I guess the mayor must be a good friends with the contractor (Milestone), to whom this transit center contract and all these road contracts and the city's annual repaving contract have gone.

  • theller

    Daniel – I've just returned from meeting with Mayor Armstrong.

    While he had access to more current ridership than I did, it still indicated that ColumBUS service costs $7 a ride. That's still head and shoulders above the $4 average cost per ride of similarly-sized cities with bus operations.

    ColumBUS's hub-and-spoke system -reliant upon a timed-transfer transit center concept- makes for inconvenient service, thus low ridership and low productivity of the city's bus fleet.

    Yet, the mayor insisted that he will go ahead and build a nearly million dollar ($900,000) 100% federal stimulus funded transit center in the far corner of the vast parking lot being constructed at ehe new Mill Race senior center.

    Apparently, he's a loyal Democrat, determined to waste taxpayer money Congress fire-hosed out upon the American landscape as part of the massive (and massively wasteful) $787 Billion stimulus bill.

    Columbus, with all its ongoing construction downtown and the widening of 17th Street and soon US 31 too, HAS NO NEED to stimulate its construction industry. But I guess the mayor must be a good friends with the contractor (Milestone), to whom this transit center contract and all these road contracts and the city's annual repaving contract have gone.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Ask the Mayor:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Ask the Mayor

Search Ask the Mayor

Ask The Mayor is on Twitter