Downtown parking in Terre Haute is heating up again. Now, the Executive Director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment, and member of the Capital Improvement Board, says that if the City Council blocks his plans to buy the Vigo County School Corporation Building and turn it into a parking lot the Convention Center Project may get scrapped entirely. He gets paid by the city close to $100,000 a year, but didn’t understand what was involved in building a parking garage.
A Terre Haute City Councilman, Todd Nation, filed an ordinance that would prevent the zoning of a surface parking lot on Wabash Ave. The intended property is now the home to the School Corporations Administration Building.
The Vigo County School Corporation in Oct. 2019 presented a plan to cut it’s budget by $7 million dollars, as part of its plan to “Right Size” the school corporation after years of declining enrollments. Part of that plan was to sell the downtown Administration Building located at 7th and Wabash.
The Vigo County School Board has not approved the sale of the School Administration Building. Steve Witt is having a meltdown over Councilman Nation’s proposed zoning restriction because the planned parking garage for the Hilton is going to require drainage, cannot use precast concrete, and a number of other things that should have been known long before ground breaking.
Terre Haute Councilman Nation says that nowhere during the planning of the convention center did anyone ever mention the need for a surface lot. The plan has always been to include two parking garages.
On the CIB website right now if you go and look at the plans for the Convention Center, it clearly shows TWO parking garages all built at taxpayer expense.
Then, in November 2019, Steve Witt, the Executive Director of the Department of Redevelopment said he would look at the school corporation property as a potential site for a surface parking lot for the Convention Center. Saying it would be a beautiful parking lot, with nice green spaces, and would save money on the convention center construction.
When Steve Witt was asked what would happen if the City Council passed a zoning ordinance that prevented the school property from being bulldozed and turned into a parking lot, Witt stated that it would bring the Convention Center Project to a standstill. Even though when the Convention Center was planned, and the tax was forced upon everyone eating or drinking in Vigo County, that was never an option. The city pays Witt nearly $100,000 to be an expert in urban planning and redevelopment, but he now says the $40 million dollar convention center is going to come to halt over a building that IS NOT FOR SALE.
Witt said if people think having the existing lot and that ugly building (School Admin Building) is important, we just won’t have a Convention Center.
This would be the first time residents of Vigo County have a say in the matter. The private/public squid that this Convention Center has evolved into has no oversight, as evident in this public meltdown by one of it’s Project Leaders. A planned Convention Center that has already broken ground for construction and NOW because of improper planning, a rush to build, lack of oversight, and a multitude of other mistakes, the Executive Director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment says that if a building that is NOT EVEN FOR SALE doesn’t get to be a parking lot then the deal may be off.
What would happen if Terre Haute’s Executive Director of Redevelopment is correct?
Witt and everyone involved in the planning of this project would be immediately fired on the spot. Held liable for breach of contract, lying to public officials, the State Board of Accounts would be called in to account for every penny of the money collected and voters would determine what to do with remaining balance? No.
Terre Haute City Council Members may be reached at: At-large council member serve everyone in the city, district members serve the district they live in
Amy.Auler@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 1
Earl.Elliott@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 2
Cheryl.Loudermilk@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 3
Todd.Nation@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 4
Neil.Garrison@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 5
Martha.Crossen@Terrehaute.IN.Gov District 6
The convention center will be built. It will amount to a significant increase in room rates at the Hilton Garden Inn, Marriott, and some spill over to the Candlewood. The owners of those properties will see a windfall of profit. According to Terre Haute resident Jack Weston, “It’s all just smoke and mirrors around here.”