About a dozen state representatives heard from the mayor, city department heads and community groups such as Shelby County Aspiration and the Strand before hitting the streets to see the project areas for themselves. Several residents spoke in a video presentation.
The city wants to build a detention pond in the South Central Valley neighborhood, add a network of trails and a veterans’ memorial walkway, update facades and sidewalks downtown, give scholarships to residents, plant trees, build a fire station and fund the long-planned West Connector road that would link the Fairland area and West State Road 44, alleviating traffic through Public Square.
Redevelopment Director Amy Haacker said Monday that the city has a strong application package and a good working background with INDOT and OCRA from other projects and grant processes.
“They were really complimentary of the application we put together,” she said. “An INDOT rep spoke really highly of our handling of the money they have given us before.”
Each of the 12 finalist cities was given $10,000 to use to fund its application. Haacker said Shelbyville used that money on visual aids and information packets for the committee. Some other cities, she noted, had to use that cash for engineering plans, grant writing or other processes that Shelbyville city employees were able to complete themselves. The city has several resources and experts already on staff that other locations do not, she said. The grant money would go further in Shelbyville.
“We emphasized our capability,” Haacker said of the city staff. “Our selling point was that they could be confident that we would complete this project. ... All projects are set up to go now, and the groundwork is done.”
The winners will be announced March 10 and 11.
OCRA community liaison Michael Thissen said Friday that he appreciated the city’s efforts.
“Thank you for helping us, as state partners, with what we’d call an experiment,” he said. “We couldn’t have found 12 better communities for making an economic development impact.”
The 11 other cities in line for the pilot program are Batesville, Bedford, Greencastle, Marion, New Castle, North Vernon, Rochester, Portland, Princeton, Union City and Washington. Originally, 45 sites applied to be part of the program.
Shelbyville’s $21 million request was among the highest amounts; other communities requested as low as $3 million. About three-quarters of the city’s total funds requested would go to pay for the West Connector.
“I think the competition is really, really steep,” Haacker said.
Shelbyville’s initial site visit date was scheduled for mid-month, but severe weather postponed the gathering. The committee spent Friday morning in Batesville before coming north for the local presentation.