Southport Matters » Conversations, Headline, News, Revitalization » RDC Established in Southport

RDC Established in Southport

Southport Council members established the City’s first Redevelopment Commission (RDC) at their monthly meeting this past Monday night with little fanfare. It’s been 4 long years after former Mayor Robin Thoman first introduced the benefits of an RDC to the Southport Council.
Mayoral (3) and Council (2) appointments for RDC Commissioners were announced at the same meeting. Russell McClure (certified urban planner), Duane Langreck (registered architect) and James Keller (licensed plumber) were announced as Mayor Testruth’s appointees while Jim Cooney (councilmember) and southside realtor Roger Harris were noted as Common Council appointments.

Establishing the RDC has been a long process for the City. It met strong opposition in 2008 from three Southport council members, Rose Harrison, Susan Schmoll and Greg Dant in spite of overwhelming support from Southport citizens, regional officials and southside businesses. Schmoll (now deceased) and Dant (later resigned) often explained that they were in favor of an RDC “but not under this [Thoman] mayor”. Harrison (unopposed for her second term) often cited her requirement for the Council to seat three commissioners instead of the two provided for in state statutes. “We sure don’t trust this mayor” she said.

Three separate economic development studies (two under former Mayor Nanette Tunget and the most recently under former Mayor Robin Thoman) all recommended establishing an RDC.
The vote ended 3-1, with only Councilor Larry Tunget opposed. Nick Schmoll, councilor for District 2 missed the regularly scheduled meeting. No reason was offered by council president Jim Cooney or Mayor Jesse Testruth for Schmoll’s continued absence. Schmoll has been absent for three meetings already this year after Testruth appointed him to fill the seat vacated the after passing of his wife Susie. Mrs. Schmoll was unable to complete her first term after being elected in 2007.

Mayor Testruth appeared to be surprised at Tunget’s Monday night vote. The councilor for district 4, Tunget had earlier voted in favor of establishing the RDC during the initial readings of the ordinance at the March ‘12 and April ’12 council meetings. Tunget had also spoken in favor of the RDC at organizational events and public hearings. Remarkably, his letters to the Council (2008) and to Southsider Voice Editor (2009) were adamantly against the proposal citing racial profiling and the unhealthy nature of additional business competition that would show up in Southport’s central business district if the commission was successful. Tunget’s wife Nanette, a former mayor was also frequent opponent of the recommended RDC.

According to state statutes, the RDC Commissioners now have 12 months to put together a Master Plan for approval by the Southport Council. No budget has been set to support the RDC nor has a director or advisor been selected. Mayor Testruth has often cited his frustrations with available funding resources in running the City. McClure and Langreck are hopeful that investments can occur soon.

All three of the other excluded cities (Beech Grove, Lawrence and Speedway) have long ago established redevelopment commissions and each has successfully completed initial projects in the heart of their central business districts.

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5 comments on “RDC Established in Southport

  1. I’m so happy to see the RDC established. It was a good idea in 2008 and remains a good idea today.

    Let’s give Mayor Testruth credit for bringing it back around and carrying the torch forward!

    Duane L., Russell M., Jim C., Roger and Jim K. have a project on their hands and will need a fair bit of support to get the RDC off the ground.

    There has been a lot of groundwork over the years so they will have had a good start. The visioning sessions with KKG Studio’s is a great beginning.

  2. Let us hope that forward movement on this important aspect of city governance happens! Enough of nay saying! Southport seems to be fading into the woodwork–or so it seems to me, a 34 year, southside resident.

  3. Why would Larry Tunget be opposed? March and April initial reading was good, but in May it is not? Perhaps he is opposed to Team Southport’s agenda and is not a team player. He had better be careful to not upset Jack. It is good for Southport under any administration, even though it should have been passed many years ago. It would be great if Southport could get some new business in the city regardless. Councilor Tunget seems like he is lost sitting on the Board anyway. It is too bad that District 2 is not being represented by Councilor Schmoll with his continued absence for Council meetings. So many things with these meeting keeps me wondering.

  4. Not surprising that Larry Tunget ended up opposing. He votes yes on previous readings (apparently to shield himself from questions), and then votes no on the final reading. This looks like further confirmation of Larry doing Nanette’s bidding which shows me that Nannette is the council member, not Larry.

    • Matt, I hear you. And it’s been said by others too, but I just don’t see as much of Nanette in Larry’s actions as I would expect. Maybe I’m giving Larry too much credit and Nanette not enough. I would have thought that as much as he had opposed the RDC in the past, that he would have spoken up during deliberations at council meetings or other supporting forums. The City and Business Alliance and Commmittee meetings offered many places to speak up.

      As do Carole and I, former mayor Tunget and Larry live together and obvoiusly share many opinions of their world as do we. Also like Nanette and Larry, one of us is far more likely to be vocal. If Nanette would show up, I’m confident that she would add her two cents. Carole surely doesn’t always do my bidding and I choose carefully not to speak for her. I’ll give Larry and Nanette the same credibility, until I’m hit upside the head with alternate evidence.

      It’s Larry’s opposition to the RDC that stands out to me. His opinion (on this matter) is one of value – that I just happen to dissagree with. His opion is valuable and his insight is even more important to share. I truly wish that he had spoken up. The conversation is every bit as important as the final decision.

      No, what I do find curious is how he was so adamant (letters to council and SS Voice) during the 2008-2009 deliberations and now grows stone cold silent.

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