Gross sidewalk problem highlighted in pamphlet sent to downtown property owners

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A group working to form an Economic Improvement District downtown is highlighting a gross sight on downtown Indianapolis' sidewalks, vomit and urine stains.

Downtown Indy, Inc. sent a flyers to property owners last week. They in part read "Doing nothing or saying 'No' will you a lot more of this:" next to a photo of waste. The caption for the photo reads "Vomit and gum stains are becoming more commonplace."

"Clearly as you walk the streets, specifically on an early morning on a weekend, the remnants of what took place the night before, vomit and other human waste, shows up its ugly face and we can do better," Bob Schultz, the senior vice president of marketing, communications and events for Downtown Indy, Inc. said.

The organization is working to gain support to form an Economic Improvement District it says would raise more than $3 million a year from property owners within Mile Square. The EID would be run by a separate board. The organization said it would in part, enhance safety and security and improve streetscape maintenance, beautification and cleanliness. It needs more than 50 percent approval of all property owners downtown and approval by owners representing more than 50 percent of all assessed value downtown. Schultz said right now they're at about 44 percent.

"The decay is just starting, this isn't a crisis for our city, this is something we have to address," Schultz said. "We have a method and a process and model that works in 1,100 other communities."

Downtown Indy, Inc.'s illustrative budget lays out a plan for hiring 10-15 maintenance ambassadors and deploying patrols throughout Mile Square in part to help remove litter and graffiti and pressure wash in pedestrian dense areas.

Not everyone in the community is sold, though. Last week, the Indiana Apartment Association released this statement:

"Downtown Indy’s proposed Economic Improvement District (EID) has not demonstrated a real need for this new tax that will have an impact on affordability of rental properties within the mile square. The Downtown Indy EID petitions were sent over five months ago, and they have failed to gain the support needed. IAA has expressed concerns with the Downtown Indy proposal and question if organizers appropriately gauged community support prior to petitions being sent. Similar efforts to establish Economic Improvement Districts around the state have received overwhelming support and have been able to wrap up their petition drives in much shorter amounts of time. It is disappointing that Downtown Indy has yet again extended their deadline to achieve a minimum level of support within a small area of the city."

But the graphic photos are sites some Hoosiers see firsthand heading into work Monday morning.

"Looks like it was a part downtown. Lots of trash, puke, you name it," Patrice Means, who works downtown, said. "I've actually gotten splashed before with you know grout that's in the curb lane, so it's pretty disgusting."

Means said she now takes a different way to work in the morning.

"I don't want to be bothered with getting splashed or harassed," she said.

A spokesperson for the city said it's property owners responsibility to keep adjacent sidewalk clean, and adds DPW has dedicated downtown crews that pick up litter, empty trash receptacles and help ensure the beautification of the Mile Square 7 days a week.

Schultz said as more people live and work in the city, though, it's a problem that needs addressed.

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