The Zionsville Town Hall was standing-room only Oct. 22 as residents came out in crowds to watch a forum between Zionsville mayoral candidates incumbent Republican Tim Haak and Democrat Emily Styron.
Organized by the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, candidates answered a slew of questions submitted in advance by the public, and main points of conversation were the candidates’ top three priorities for 2020 if elected, Creekside Corporate Park and more.
Styron identified economic development, solving traffic congestion and investment in the town’s park system as her top priorities.
“I have a desire to work towards solving some of our traffic congestion issues, particularly on Oak Street where we have some hazardous areas,” Styron said. “I have new ways to look at parking shortages, or the perceived sense of parking shortages. After talking to a number of folks on Main Street, I think I have some fresh ideas to bring to that conversation.”
Haak identified public safety, economic development and commitment to infrastructure as his top priorities if re-elected.
“When I first came on town council in 2010, Zionsville’s tax base was 94 percent residential. It put an increasing amount of strain on the residential tax base to pay for services that are needed. A formula was developed and implemented in 2010 to get that number down to 80 percent by 2020, and we are currently below that.”
When it came to Creekside Corporate Park on the town’s southern border, the candidates had conflicting views. Haak believed the park was a success already, and he said the town was being picky for a reason.
“Creekside is a success. When it was first proposed and initiated, (we) predicted a 16-year buildout for the park with $45 million in assessed valuation of investment. We are currently at $18 million, ahead of schedule,” Haak said. “Part of the feedback I hear from the corporate world is not the price of the land, because we discount the price of the land, (but) commercial construction (cost) is up 30 percent year over year, so that’s cost prohibitive for some companies. We are picky about what comes to Creekside. If the buildout was to occur overnight, then yeah, it could’ve occurred, but it would’ve been businesses and companies people wouldn’t have wanted.”
Styron said she thinks there are problems with Creekside Corporate Park on the attraction side.
“My goal is to take a multi-layered approach to this,” she said. “First, we need to work through who has attempted to secure land in Creekside. My conversation with a number of different business owners is there are likely folks who come to the table and wanted to locate their business in Creekside but found the cost to be prohibitive. That’s certainly an area I’ll prove to change.”
Preceding the mayoral forum was a town council candidate forum with several candidates from various races present. To read that article, visit https://youarecurrent.com/2019/10/23/candidates-face-off-in-town-hall-forum/.