Mayoral candidate Pat Goodwin called on the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission on Wednesday to weigh in on a new Vigo County jail, but the panel took no action.
Goodwin said he approached the commission because it owns a parking lot adjacent to the current jail and must sign off on financing for Mayor Duke Bennett's plan for a new city police building.
“I wonder if you would entertain a discussion” about transferring the parking lot to the county for a combined jail, sheriff's office and police station on the current government campus, “if that would be a good solution?”
Bennett's plan calls for downtown tax increment financing to pay for the police station. Goodwin expressed concern about “overuse” of that tax district.
He estimated the cost of a combined police/jail building at $50 million, instead of the potential $70 million or more if one accounts for the planned jail/sheriff's building off Honey Creek Drive at $60 million and a downtown city police headquarters at $10 million.
Bennett and Redevelopment Director Steve Witt have said the city police headquarters funding by way of tax increment financing would not jeopardize other downtown projects.
With a referendum set on a property tax increase for school operations, “This would be one thing we could tell taxpayers we're doing to save quite a bit of money,” Goodwin said.
Commissioner Troy Helman asked about the impact a combined police/jail/sheriff's building off Cherry Street on the “Turn to the River” initiative linking downtown and the Wabash Riverfront.
“It would change that plan some but it wouldn't sacrifice that plan at all,” Goodwin said.
Bennett is committed to replacing the police station at its existing 1211 Wabash Ave. location and Police Chief Shawn Keen has said, “The last thing you do is move the police department to the outskirts of the city.”
Commissioner Brian Conley said he has consistently favored a jail on the current government campus but added, “I'm a little concerned that the horse has gone down the road too far to have much effect” if Goodwin's request were granted.
Brad Anderson, president of the Vigo County Board of Commissioners, has maintained the new county's jail needs require more space than the government campus off Cherry Street near First Street can offer.
Democratic mayoral candidate Karrum Nasser said Wednesday he agrees, based on plans for a pod design. However, Nasser said he believes a new city police station could be combined with a jail at another location.
In other business
Also Wednesday, the commission gave its approval to a $2.3 million real and personal property tax abatement over 10 years for the second Pyrolyx USA plant in Fort Harrison Business Park. The company will pay an estimated $1.8 million in taxes during the period.
The City Council granted preliminary approval last week and will take final action on the tax breaks next month. While there was some question whether commission approval was needed, attorney Jeff Lind, representing Pyrolyx, said the council requested commission action.
Pyrolyx' plans now call for two plants with a total workforce of more than 100. The plants will extract carbon black and other materials from scrap tires that are shredded elsewhere for use by local plastics plants and Midwestern tire plants.
In other action, the commission:
• Confirmed a revised downtown tax increment financing district plan to include potential projects related to a new convention center
• Authorized reimbursement of about $60,000 to the city from Indiana 46 development funds for paving a short stretch of Industrial Margaret Ave. that might otherwise be delayed by up to two years if paid for from city street funds.
Dave Taylor can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarDave.