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Compiled by Nancy Price

2019 was a good year for Beech Grove, Greenwood and Southport. New jobs moved to Beech Grove area with the addition of Amazon, and more will arrive with Milestone Contractors, LP, a subsidiary of The Heritage Group. Cummins will bring about 500 to the city of Greenwood with average salaries of about $100,000. And Southport closed 2019 with a balanced budget. There were challenges, as well, when a tornado brought $15 million in damages to Beech Grove. Yet citizens came together and helped those in need with food, clothing and shelter. Southside mayors are excited about an even better year with plans for 2020.

Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley

Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley. (Submitted photo)

Q: What were the city’s greatest accomplishments of 2019?

BUCKLEY: From an economic development standpoint, the Amazon company relocating to Beech Grove. They are up and running and doing quite well. One of the spinoffs of that is we’ve become home to some local delivery companies so that’s even more jobs. Besides Amazon, there was an announcement by Heritage Group that they’ve purchased the property next to Amtrack. And Milestone Contractors LP will be relocating to that site. They’ve moved 110 jobs to Beech Grove and will add 25 more jobs. The average wage is $36.50 per hour. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Organization has awarded the city $1.2 million for intersection improvements at 25th and Churchman avenues. The INDOT has awarded a bid by Rieth Riley for construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Arlington and Churchman avenues. Work will begin next spring. We have been reassessed in our property values and are up an additional $40 million since the last assessment. That’s good if you own your own home or your own business. Your property value just went up. I’m very happy about that. Last year was a good year for us and I anticipate even better next year.

Q: What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2019?

BUCKLEY: An EF-1 tornado that came through the city. It displaced over 60 families and had a drastic effect on one of the businesses and Beech Grove High School. All of the affected commercial properties are still in business and work is continuing on Beech Meadow Apartments and the high school. There was at least $15 million in damages. It was nice under the worst circumstances that the best of people came out and delivered food and clothing.

New businesses, including Amazon, are relocating to Beech Grove, and a roundabout will be constructed at Arlington and Churchman avenues. (Photo by Angela Morefield)

Q: What do you feel is the greatest strength of your city, going into the new year?

BUCKLEY: It’s always been our people. We provide the absolute best in city services. There’s no comparison.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add, summarizing 2019 or looking forward to 2020?

BUCKLEY: Hopefully soon, we’ll have more police officers in the school and that’s important to develop relationships with students and police. The school will have a referendum in May. If that passes, we’ll hire an additional three officers for a total of four. We will approach the Beech Grove City Council to get approval to build a new police station and fire station. It’s desperately needed. I would like to replace Beech Grove Fire Station 56 on Albany Street. It’s outdated and way too small. Also, the city should begin to see the construction of the Greenway this fall. It’s a 2.2-mile path that winds through the park system and attaches to South Grove Intermediate School and Beech Grove High School. I think it could be the second most important project I’ve had as mayor. I think it’s that relevant to the city; it changes the whole city.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers. (Submitted photo)

Q: What were the city’s greatest accomplishments of 2019?

MYERS: We made significant progress on several transformative quality of life projects, including the re-imagination of Old City Park, redevelopment of the former Greenwood Middle School property and a new downtown fieldhouse. Freedom Springs Aquatic Center and the city’s Summer Concert Series enjoyed record attendance yet again this year and the city is constantly pursuing opportunities for new trails and greenspace.

Greenwood continued its substantial economic development momentum as well. The city announced several new commercial investments and welcomed Cummins as its newest corporate citizen. The company plans to invest more than $35 million in a professional office building that will house 500 professional employees averaging a salary of $100,000. Greenwood also celebrated the launch of its integration into the state’s INBiz portal – the first municipality in Indiana to do so – making it easier for businesses to work with local government. Finally, the city remains focused on building its infrastructure to accommodate recent and future growth. Greenwood made considerable progress on construction for both the Western Regional Interceptor and expansion of Worthsville Road. Both projects will continue in 2020.

The old Greenwood Middle School was demolished in anticipation of the new downtown fieldhouse. (Submitted photo)

Q: What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2019?

MYERS: For several years, staffing levels for both the Greenwood Police Department and Greenwood Fire Department have been well below recommended levels. In 2019, Greenwood addressed the issue by passing a 1 percent food and beverage tax. The additional revenue – a majority of which will be generated by visitors and nonresidents – will allow Greenwood to reallocate budget from the city’s general fund and hire more police officers and firefighters.

Q: What is the greatest strength of your city, going into the new?

MYERS: With a balanced budget, significant financial reserves and Indiana’s fourth-lowest tax rate, Greenwood is well-positioned to continue leading the Southside’s resurgence. The city offers dynamic public amenities and an ever-increasing quality of life. Potential businesses and residents are taking notice and Greenwood plans to continue building on this momentum in 2020 and beyond.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add, summarizing 2019 or looking forward to 2020?

MYERS: Greenwood is excited for another year of pride and progress. Stay tuned for updates and more great news!

Southport Mayor Russell McClure

Southport Mayor Russell McClure. (Submitted photo)

Q: What were the city’s greatest accomplishments in 2019?

MCCLURE: This would have to be our continued fiscal responsibility with our budget and being able to close out this year with a balanced budget including increased reserves to meet any unforeseen challenges in 2020.

Q: What is the biggest challenge the city overcame in 2019?

MCCLURE: While Southport had a relatively quiet year, we were able to update our various plans which

will allow us to apply for more grant opportunities in the coming year.Q: What do you feel is the greatest strength of your city, going into the new year?

MCCLURE: I think that our greatest strength has and always will be the people of Southport. Our citizens remain supportive and want our city to succeed and prosper. We have a great group of dedicated volunteers who selflessly serve on boards and commissions, providing nearly $1 million dollars’ worth of time and service per year to the city.  Our police department let by Chief Vaughn does outstanding work and is committed to our community.

Southport officials took the oath of office, administered by the honorable Judge John Kitley, in November. From left, District 2 Councilor Carol Bowling, District 1 Councilor Jeff Vogt, Judge Kitley, District 3 Councilor Joe Haley, Councilor-At-Large Charles Lynch, District 4 Councilor Larry Tungent and Mayor Jim Cooney. Also elected was Clerk-Treasurer Diane Buchanan, not pictured. (Photo by Nicole Davis)

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add, summarizing 2019 or looking forward to in 2020?

MCCLURE: 2020 will be an exciting year as we look forward to excellent parks programs and working on grants to improve our streets and community center. Southport remains committed to public service by providing space for nonprofit uses at our community center as well as community outreach programs sponsored by our police department.

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