Election Guide 2011: Candidates’ views about U.S. 31 construction

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Some of the more challenging impacts on local businesses during construction on US 31 will involve hindered access, decline in customer traffic, possible loss of business and forced or voluntary business relocation. How would you address these (or other) issues to support the business community and to stem possible declines in tax base?

Dear Citizens:

The Westfield Chamber serves the Westfield Washington Township community. The Chamber has set out to assist the community in becoming better acquainted with the candidates running in the November 8th election for the position of Westfield Mayor.

The Westfield Chamber requested responses to questions that were sent out in mid-August to all three candidates running for the position of Westfield mayor. Prior to distributing these questions, a previous fourth candidate, M. Kurtis Maddox confirmed that he was no longer running as a candidate for Westfield mayor.

The remaining candidates received the list of questions and responded:

  • Andy Cook – Republican
  • Todd Hoard – Independent
  • Mike Waite – Libertarian

Each candidate was issued the same guidelines which included that each response would be limited to the first 200 words. Each candidate was informed that responses would be published unedited.

Each week, beginning in October, the Chamber will submit one question along with each candidate’s response to local papers. Once all questions have been published, the entire list of questions and answers will be compiled and forwarded to the membership of the Chamber, as well as others who indicate an interest in receiving a copy.

Hopefully, you will find this information helpful as you prepare to vote on November 8th.

Respectfully,

The Westfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Some of the more challenging impacts on local businesses during construction on US 31 will involve hindered access, decline in customer traffic, possible loss of business and forced or voluntary business relocation. How would you address these (or other) issues to support the business community and to stem possible declines in tax base?

Response for Mayor Andy Cook:

The US 31 Freeway will be a tremendous asset and an economic development driver for our community when completed.  It will also be painful for some residents and businesses during construction.  To mitigate some of the potential traffic issues, we are currently developing the East Access Road (behind Wal-Mart and Marsh), widening 151st Street and constructing a new round-about on 151st Street to better move traffic through the area.  Additionally, we are working with INDOT and the U.S. Department of Transportation to construct the West Access Road, which is proposed to be located parallel to US 31 on the west side, connecting Union Street to Western Way.  These projects will undoubtedly help with traffic disturbances during the construction process.   As it relates to the existing businesses, we are constantly working with INDOT, the Chamber of Commerce and the business community to work through issues or concerns stemming from the project.  We have a team consisting of City, Chamber and INDOT personnel specifically dedicated to assisting businesses on all aspects of the project.  These coordinated efforts will offset the disruption caused by the project before, during and after construction.

Response for Todd Hoard:

Lessoning the impact to our existing businesses will be the challenge. Westfield needs to reach out to our existing businesses and promote our businesses to residents and commuters. Businesses needs to reach out to the community to let us know what there needs are and that they are committed to Westfield. We need to be working hand in hand with INDOT to do what we can to retain commerce in the City of Westfield. Westfield’s US 31 is currently under construction but once this is completed, Westfield has a great chance to optimize our US 31 as a businesses corroder to attract new business and to retain existing Business. But I’m afraid that we are going squander a great opportunity to capitalize on the new improvements and business areas because we are not competitive on our commercial property taxes with surrounding communities. By decreasing the high commercial property taxes, I hope to retain businesses that have to relocate and attract businesses wanting to locate to the new high visibility corroder of US 31. We should be able to attract new businesses, employees and customers with the now shorter commute from other communities that the US 31 upgrades will give us.

Response for Mike Waite:

A meeting should be held immediately between the City of Westfield, INDOT, and the businesses affected. The last thing Westfield needs is for another business to leave our community for Carmel. As mayor I will bend over backwards to make this major inconvenience as easy as possible to these businesses. According to the county auditor Dawn Coverdale this office is unable to calculate the property tax loss at this time. We must have true figures to answer this question.

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