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Indianapolis Public Library wages long battle with east side property owner over land

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An east side woman is refusing to give her property up to Indianapolis Public Library officials, who want to build a new branch.

Sheena Schmidt, who owns a few lots of land near 25th and Sherman, says the billboard hanging above it reading “say no to eminent domain” speaks for itself.

“I’m not giving up this land,” she said.

The library has a branch across the street from Schmidt’s property, but has a plan for a 15,000 square-foot, $5,000,000 development to be a hub of the neighborhood. They’ve been trying to convince Schmidt to sell for years.

“Really the only piece that we’re in discussion with her about is this small cement block building,” CEO Jackie Nytes said.

Nytes says Schmidt’s claim that the development would result in the purchase and closure of businesses that surround the lot is misinformed. She insists the development would only have a positive impact on the neighborhood.

“As probably some of the first new construction to come into that neighborhood in decades, it would be a real inspiration for that community,” she said.

Schmidt claims the library’s offer severely undervalues the land’s worth, and that the development would mean the end of the handful of small businesses, some of which rest on property she owns.

“You shut this down and you put like 200 people out of jobs,” she said.

The library has petitioned the City-County Council to authorize eminent domain. But thus far, the council says they’re hesitant to step in, opting instead for a resolution to be reached between library officials and Schmidt.

Schmidt says she plans to remain firm on her position of not selling. She insists the issue is not over money, and that she will fight the sale until “she’s dead.” She insists the library can be built on a 13-acre stretch of land a few blocks away, but library officials insist that land is “not suitable” for library development .