On Tuesday, February 19, Mayor Mike Moore delivered the State of the City address to the Rotary Club of Jeffersonville.
Read his full remarks below:
Good afternoon. I want to thank the Rotary Club for once again inviting me to talk about the state of our city. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Before I go any further, I also want to extend a special thanks to my partners on the City Council for their cooperation and commitment to our city. I look forward to working with them again this year along with Council President Ed Zastawny. And, also, to my department heads and city employees for their hard work in helping make Jeffersonville the best city in the Hoosier state.
I come here today as passionate about Jeffersonville’s potential as I was the first time I came to you seven years ago. Never before have I seen the pride and excitement we’re currently experiencing in our city. And never before have I been more certain that there’s so much more to look forward to.
If you moved away from Jeffersonville 10 years ago and came back today, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same place. The landscape has certainly changed. But so has our attitude. Every time we break a mold and find success, it challenges us to go after something bigger. And, together, we have set a new course for our city.
I can tell you today that the state of our city is strong. It is hopeful. And, yes, it is prideful.
Our economy is booming.
Businesses and families continue to choose Jeffersonville as their home. Every time we think our downtown has exceeded expectations, something else new happens to show we’ve only scratched the surface.
Last week, we celebrated the groundbreaking of a $30 million project that will bring a 215 unit luxury apartment building to downtown Jeffersonville. The Walcott project – located on the former American Legion site along Court Avenue – is bringing something to our city that we’ve never seen before. And it’s just the latest in a string of developments that continue to reshape downtown Jeffersonville.
The Marriott hotel across from Big Four Station Park opened last spring. Right next door – on the former Colston Park site – the same developer is wrapping up work on a development that will offer residential loft style living.
In the next couple of weeks the city will break ground on a $25 million private development at 10th and Spring streets. Phase one of that project will bring four new restaurants to Jeffersonville, but most importantly it will once again bring life to the city’s Gateway.
Things are bursting on the other end of the city, too. Last spring’s opening of Kroger on the north end of 10th Street proved to be a jumping off point for our city’s east end. Several other businesses and retailers have opened alongside Kroger in Jefferson Commons and more are on the way, including plans for a Chic-Fil-A and Feeders Supply. Just down the road on the other side of 265, we recently welcomed Growler USA. Plans for a new movie theater are also in the works for that area.
And I can’t leave out Veterans Parkway. Last fall we welcomed Hobby Lobby and several other businesses will soon join that development – including TJ Maxx and Home Goods.
Our Arts & Cultural District is taking shape with even more exciting and creative projects on the way.
Last year I told you big things were about to happen in our Arts & Cultural District – NoCo. I am happy to tell you today that we have delivered on that promise. We hosted the dedication of Picasso Pointe along Spring Street last fall.
And, thanks to a lot of very hard work by Public Arts Administrator Dawn Spyker and our Redevelopment Commission staff led by Rob Waiz, NoCo received official accreditation from the Indiana Arts Commission in December as one of only ten Arts & Cultural Districts in the State of Indiana. We will start work soon on the next phase of NoCo, known as The Depot, that will introduce converted shipping containers and rail cars to serve as retail, dining and entertainment spaces.
Our quality of life is improving with our continued focus on parks and recreation.
When I was here last year I also unveiled my plan to create a park in the city’s east end. I am happy to tell you that we have made that a reality, too. We broke ground on the 115-acre project in December and construction on Phase 1 on Chapel Lake Park is officially underway.
I want to thank councilman Scott Hawkins for being an advocate for this project, as well as Planning and Zoning Director Nathan Pruitt, long term planner Chad Reischl, Parks Director Paul Northam and Parks Authority President Bill Burns for their dedication to getting this project off the ground.
Through a lot of hard work and cooperation, we are creating a one of a kind park for the residents of Jeffersonville. From fishing lakes to natural trails, Chapel Lake Park will have something for everyone and is a significant quality of life improvement for nearly 1,600 Jeffersonville households located within five minutes of the site.
Our city’s aging infrastructure is finally getting the attention in needs with some long overdue road projects.
I am proud to be able to say today that we are wrapping up two major infrastructure projects: 10th Street and Holmans Lane. These are both major projects that were put off for decades. I am extremely proud that we had the guts to tackle them.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my City Engineer Andy Crouch for jumping on board with me and tackling both of these things head on. He has worked extremely hard and probably lost a lot of sleep over the last couple of years. I know it seems like the orange barrels and cones have been lining the streets forever, but soon they will be gone and I promise you’re going to really appreciate what has been done.
If you’ve been on the west end of 10th Street – from Main to Penn street – in the last couple of months, you know what I’m talking about. A widened street, new sidewalks, lighting … it’s a first class improvement. That’s a preview of what the rest of 10th Street – on up to Springdale Drive – will look like once the 10th Street revitalization project is finished this summer.
We expect our $6.3 million upgrade along Holmans Lane to wrap up this summer, too, leading way to turning lanes, sidewalks and lighting.
In addition to those two large-scale projects, we are focusing on our neighborhoods. Last year alone we invested $1.2 million in improvements to our existing streets and roads, including widening New Chapel Road.
Our city is getting connected with more sidewalks and walking trails.
We have added more than 14 miles of sidewalks throughout the city since 2012, continuing to deliver on our commitment to make Jeffersonville a more connected and walkable community. With the sidewalks we’ve added you can now, literally, start in downtown Louisville, walk across the Big Four Bridge, up the riverfront, all the way up Utica Pike, down Allison Lane and all the way to the new Kroger. That’s pretty incredible.
By adding sidewalks on New Chapel Road, we’ve created a connection between some of the city’s largest and fastest growing neighborhoods – all the way out to some dining and retail establishments and to one of the city’s newest projects, Chapel Lake Park.
We are also seeking support from the state’s Next Level Trails program to help us create a multi-use trail that would connect the Lewis and Clark Bridge trail to Charlestown State Park on one end, through River Ridge and into Chapel Lake Park on the other end. This is a project that would create connection points and give trail access to potentially thousands of residents in our city’s east end as well as to thousands of employees at River Ridge.
Jeffersonville continues to evolve. Every door we open leads to even more potential.
One area with unlimited potential is JeffBoat. For decades, our city thrived on building barges. JeffBoat, located on 65 acres of our riverfront along Market Street, was our identity. But Jeffersonville has changed since then. Our workforce is different. Our city is different.
Still, it was an emotional day when JeffBoat announced last year that it was closing its doors for good. Sad, because we were losing such a big part of us. But, at the same time, hopeful because of the opportunity we have to bring that property back to life and make it relevant to Jeffersonville again in a whole new way.
That’s why one of my main objectives moving forward is to secure control of those 65 acres for future development. Our redevelopment director, Rob Waiz, has been working for months on a plan that will put the city in a position to secure that property for future development. This is a long range project and it’s going to take patience.
The transformation won’t happen overnight. We expect JeffBoat to be on site for at least another year clearing the area and there are still a lot of uncertainties about the condition of the property and suitability for specific development but we have high hopes for the potential this area holds for Jeffersonville’s future. This is a game changer for the city and we are ready to tackle it.
It’s time to focus on re-purposing the 10th Street corridor into a vital connector between our downtown and the east end.
Now that we are nearly finished with infrastructure upgrades along 10th Street, we are ready to turn our attention to the next phase of improving the area. We have completed a master plan and will soon start moving toward implementing initiatives to make the corridor more inviting for commercial and residential development.
While we are experiencing explosions of growth on the east and west ends of Jeffersonville, we have to make sure the area in between is also living up to its potential. Now is the time to turn our attention at re-purposing the 10th Street corridor into a new vibrant area where we have a mix use of businesses and residences.
Our commitment to a safe community has never been stronger.
As the City has seen huge growth in industry and population, the demands on our public safety resources have increased. I am extremely proud to say the men and women of our police and fire departments have risen to this challenge.
Since my first day as mayor, I pledged to hire more police and firefighters to protect our city. I’m happy to say we’ve done that – adding 17 police officers and 18 firefighters over the last seven years. What is even more impressive is that the skill set and training of our police and fire departments is at a higher level than it has ever been.
Thanks to the leadership of our Fire Chief Eric Hedrick, the City of Jeffersonville now has four specialized response teams we’ve never had before, including a Hazardous Materials Response team and a swift water/river rescue team.
With the leadership of Chief Kenny Kavanaugh, our police department is one that is professional and well-trained. As society evolves, so does the criminal element. That’s why I’m proud our police department is on the cutting edge when it comes to implementing 21st century policing techniques and training.
We’re looking to start a new chapter in our city’s long history of meeting the needs of animals.
Soon we will break ground on construction of a new animal shelter. Our shelter serves all of Clark County – not just Jeffersonville – and our needs and our goals have simply surpassed what the current shelter can allow for. We’re taking on upwards of 4,000 animals every year at our facility.
The way we treat and care for our animals is a reflection on who we are as a community. Sarah Green, the director at the shelter, does an amazing job with the resources she has, and next year she’s going to have something a little better to work with.
Our city’s finances have never been stronger.
We ended last year with $7.6 million cash on hand. There was another $4.6 million in the rainy day fund.
And just last month we received two great reports that even further support the city’s solid financial standing.
First, the State Board of Accounts presented findings from its 2017 audit of the city. It concluded the city is in a strong financial position with healthy fund balances. And it found no irregularities within the city’s financial statements.
Considering where we started seven years ago, this is one of the best audit results any city could receive. I take the financial stewardship of tax dollars very seriously. I am proud of the tremendous team we have at the city who share my commitment and strive every day to earn taxpayers’ trust.
We also learned recently that in 2018 the city earned $983,000 in interest from its investments. Almost $1 million – that is the largest earning Jeff has ever reported and is almost twice as much as our earnings from 2017. I’m extremely proud of that.
Thanks to our City Controller, Heather Metcalf, we are making tax dollars work through smart investments. Smart investments help us do more for the residents of Jeffersonville without raising taxes.
While we’re on the subject of smart investments … There are few things as important to Jeffersonville’s future as our children.
My commitment to ensuring Jeffersonville’s place in the future doesn’t stop at improving our infrastructure and recruiting new business partners. We also have to foster an environment in our city that encourages our children to succeed. And they need to know if they do their part, we will do our part. We have to deliver on the promise of opportunity.
Last year I told you all about the importance of keeping an elementary school in our downtown. Faced with the school board’s decision to close both Maple and Spring Hill elementary schools, I encouraged you to join my administration in support of building a new school downtown.
I am proud to tell you today that together we succeeded in our efforts. My administration joined Greater Clark school officials, parents and students in December and broke ground for a new elementary school along Court Avenue.
I am thrilled our downtown kids will be able to stay in their own neighborhoods and attend a first-class elementary school and that new, young parents will continue to see downtown as an ideal place to invest and raise their kids.
The downtown school is under construction, but my administration will continue to focus on strengthening the city’s relationship with Greater Clark County Schools and educators. And I am calling on other local leaders and business owners to join us in finding ways to give kids in Jeffersonville access to quality education and opportunities that will prepare them for the future.
The city of Jeffersonville has seen the addition of nearly 7,000 jobs in the last seven years. One of the challenges in keeping those businesses here is having a skilled workforce ready for hire. Jeffersonville no longer relies on barges, toothpaste and J-Boys to drive our economy. Industry has changed and we have to start thinking about ways to position our kids to be part of that.
Our success on the job front means we need a qualified and well trained workforce in today’s highly competitive economy. That’s why Jeffersonville took the lead and became the first city in the state to implement a program to help ensure we are meeting that demand.
When Ivy Tech approached me last year about “Jeffersonville’s Promise”, I quickly realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our city. Ivy Tech wanted to offer a scholarship program so every Jeff High graduate could attend Ivy Tech.
“Jeffersonville’s Promise” is about making our community more competitive when trying to attract new jobs and businesses. You cannot talk about economic development without the workforce issue coming up in the conversation.
Just look at the workforce challenges our state is facing. An Indiana Chamber of Commerce Survey reveals that more than half of the businesses surveyed left jobs unfilled last year due to underqualified applicants. A third of them said that filling job openings is the biggest challenge they face.
This is an alarming trend. We as a community and as leaders have an obligation to address it. One way is to find creative ways to use existing tax revenue to help train and educate our young people. Jeffersonville’s Promise does just that.
While there are state legislative efforts to derail the program, Jeffersonville is still committed to tackling our local workforce challenges. This means partnering with our local schools, colleges and businesses so we remain competitive on the economic development front.
Jeffersonville’s future is in our kids. They are our future doctors, scientists, engineers, iron workers, teachers and electricians.
And the city can’t do it alone. We need everyone to share in that responsibility.
So we’re forging partnerships like the one with the Jeff Housing Authority to convert the old Boys and Girls Club into a new community center that will offer parks activities.
But more importantly, as part of this venture, we are applying for federal approval to operate the facility as an EnVision Center. It’s where residents will have a centralized hub for support in four areas: Economic Empowerment, Educational Advancement, Health and Wellness and Character and Leadership.
The EnVision Center will help individuals and families living in HUD-assisted housing, especially young people, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens by encouraging participation in volunteer and mentoring opportunities. We will track success not by the number of people who walk through the door, but rather by measuring the number of people who are moved to self-sufficiency because of their involvement in the programming at the EnVision Center.
I love Jeffersonville. This is my hometown. There will never be a day when I stop seeing our potential.
We have chosen to go in the right direction even when it wasn’t the easiest direction. That is what we will continue to do. And when I come back to talk to you next year, I can guarantee I will have another list of accomplishments and another list of hopes to share.
We aren’t waiting for someone else to show us our future. We are creating the future.
Jeffersonville is a very special place. We’re a city that fosters dreams, offers compassion, provides hope and fulfills destinies.
That’s why I’m proud to say, Jeff is my hometown.