Strategic I-69 corridor growth, the 2018 city agenda, downtown revitalization progress and new well fields for 2019.
On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Martinsville’s Shannon Kohl addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Hren: As you look ahead to 2018, what are some of the city’s goals or agendas?
Kohl: I’m sure you’ve heard, we have an interstate coming through our neighborhood so we are preparing for that. There’re some LPA grants that I’ve applied for to get some road funding for these roads we’re going to have to fix for I-69 connectivity. So it’s working hand in hand with INDOT to make it go a little easier or as easy as we can make it, if you can even do that when you have an interstate coming through.
Hren: So this is more than just INDOT coming through and creating a highway, you really have to work on connectivity with business owners who have to move?
Kohl: We’ve been working hard trying to find places for those businesses and we’ve been successful with some, we’re still working with a lot of others. We have the downtown revitalization we’ve talked about, so one of the businesses that is in the Industrial Park, we’re trying to get into a downtown building. It’s all about timing right now, we’re in that lull we know it’s going to happen. But once it comes, it’ll all happen at once.
Hren: Any new information from INDOT on timing of I-69?
Kohl: They think they’ll be done with section five in August of this year, which means we’ll be moving dirt in 2019. That can always be pushed back, but a good estimate.
We feel that it’s a reset button for our community, it’s coming no matter what, so we need to get the best out of it that we can.
“We feel that it’s a reset button for our community, it’s coming no matter what, so we need to get the best out of it that we can.”
Hren: Dante wrote in, he wants to know what is your strategy with the I-69 corridor to grow Martinsville?
Kohl: We’ve had some annexation done a few years back in plans for this interstate. We’ve done a comprehensive plan update and it included the new land that we had annexed. We’ll try to get some light manufacturing in that area. But those people don’t have to sell their land. It was important to us to look at the long term. We wanted to give the citizens that live in that area a voice of what could go in there.
Hren: I wanted to ask you about the downtown revitalization, could you expand on that progress?
Kohl: Yes, we had a couple investors buy 22 buildings, local business men who are really trying to give back to the community. So it’s neat to see some of the old buildings they are bringing back that have been closed up for several years. It’s just amazing the transformation. It’s going to take probably two years, but it’s already changed the way downtown is looking.
Hren: We covered the ceremony honoring Carol Jenkins-Davis who was killed during a 1968 racially-motivated crime back in November of last year. It was a moving ceremony, but I left thinking it had larger implications of Martinsville’s image and continuing effort to promote diversity, how does the city keep that effort going?
Kohl: We do have diversity here, we really do. I don’t people realize we have that here. They’re welcomed and good members of the community. So I think the point of that ceremony was we never really acknowledged anything about Carol Jenkins. I felt like we as a community, that was something holding us back.
Martinsville’s misconception is we’re this horribly racial town. But we are not at all what the outside community sees us as. I think we’ve been stigmatized by this one tragic event and to move forward we needed to acknowledge that and her family needed the closure and so did we really. I know it helped us, but I hope it helped them more.