Council asks for specifics on plan

Details about parking, funding and potential tax revenue are needed before the Greenwood City Council can vote on whether to give a city board permission to pursue downtown projects that would total $30 million, several council members said.

Before the city invests significant tax dollars on projects including reconstructing Madison Avenue, renovating Old City Park, constructing a new street and building an underground parking garage, council members want to learn specifics about how the projects will be financed, how parking will be managed and how much private investment the city expects to draw in return.

“We want more information, clarification and details,” council member Brent Corey said.

While Mayor Mark Myers and his staff have provided specific details about the projects in multiple presentations at meetings and open houses, that information, such as the amount of proposed parking spaces, isn’t included in the project list the council is being asked to approve, which often just has a sentence or two of descriptions for each of the million dollar projects, council member David Lekse said.

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The reason for that, according to Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz, is that the downtown projects being approved are tentative. The council’s only say in the matter is whether to allow the redevelopment commission to consider these projects, not mandating that the projects go forward.

City officials are working to gather information and plan to give a more detailed presentation at the next council meeting April 3.

The majority of the funding for these projects will come from the city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, districts, which set aside money from property taxes paid by certain businesses in specific sections of the city.

The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission decides how to spend TIF district funds, and it can only spend funds on an approved lists of projects. Those lists, which are created when the districts are formed, don’t include the recently proposed downtown projects. Adding projects to the list requires approval of the city council.

Unless the redevelopment commission requires a loan to pay for a project, the council won’t get an opportunity to vote on the final versions of any of the proposed downtown projects, which is why council members say now is the time to clarify details of projects that could still be several years away.

Because the plans amount to about $30 million, Corey said he wants specific details about how the redevelopment commission will pay for the projects, whether it will be cash or loans, and how that will impact the ability to pay for other projects using TIF district funds.

One concern is these projects could limit the redevelopment commission from pursuing other opportunities, he said.

The availability of parking is the primary concern for Lekse, who said both the Greenwood Public Library and Our Lady of the Greenwood Church have expressed worries about where visitors will be able to park.

The church has long had informal agreements with both the city and the Greenwood Middle School to share parking spaces. Parishioners have often used the middle school parking lot during services, and the church has made its lot available for public parking during downtown city events.

Because the middle school is proposed to be demolished and replaced with apartments, town homes, businesses and stores, the church is concerned about where its members will park, pastor Mark Svarczkopf said.

The church would like to have 200 parking spots to be able to use during its weekend services, but city council member Mike Campbell said he isn’t sure yet where those spots are going to come from.

“Hopefully we can work out a compromise on it,” he said.

Parking is also a concern for the Greenwood Public Library. One of the lots its visitors use for parking, which is to the west of the building, is a city owned lot which will lose about 30 parking spots if the connector road between Market Plaza and Surina Way is built.

Library Director Cheryl Dobbs said she is excited for the library to be in the middle of all of the new development, but said she has requested that the city find a way to save more of the parking spots.

The lot, which has about 80 parking spaces now, will be reduced to 49 under current city plans.

Library staff have been monitoring how many cars use the lot since the downtown projects were announced, and while the average is 20 to 40 cars, usage has climbed to more than 60 cars when multiple events are going on at the library, Dobbs said.

She’d like to see the plans adjusted to keep about 60 spaces in the parking lot, especially the parking spaces that provide direct access to the sidewalk on the west side of the library.

The city needs to make a clear decision on how parking agreements will be set up with the church and library before the council lets the redevelopment commission move forward with the projects, Lekse said.

“I would like a depiction of the parking the city will give each of these community members,” Lekse said.

What concerns one council member is if the influx of city money into the downtown area will bring in enough private development to make the investment worth it.

“We know what our risk is, $30 million, but we don’t know what our reward is,” council member Chuck Landon said.

Landon said he wanted to see quantitative data about what benefits the city expects to get out of these projects, such as property taxes.

“I’d like to see the economics of the deal,” Landon said.

The city does have data such as estimates of what the assessed values, which determine property taxes, are projected to be based on the current plans, city attorney Krista Taggart said.

That data will be presented to the council at the next meeting, she said.

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The Greenwood City Council has to approve adding the proposed $30 million in downtown projects to the list of projects that the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission can pursue.

April 3: First city council vote

April 17: Second city council vote

Meetings begin at 7 p.m. at the Greenwood City Building, 300 S. Madison Ave.

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The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission is considering adding onto its list of projects that can be funded with TIF district dollars. Here is a list of what is being considered, along with an estimate of what the project will cost.

Madison Avenue reconstruction: $12.5 million

Old City Park improvements: $4.6 million

North city building parking lot redevelopment: $11 million

Market Plaza and Surina Way connector road: $2.6 million

Improvements to Main and Meridian streets intersection: $800,000

Madison Avenue and Smith Valley roundabout: $1 million

Infrastructure development to properties east of Interstate 65, along Main Street and County Line Road: $3 million