Indiana News

Mayor Mike Moore expressed confidence in Jeffersonville’s ability to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic during this year’s State Of The City address.

During his 20-minute speech on Tuesday, Moore touched on the city’s growth over the past year through COVID-19 and his vision for the future. The mayor was reelected to a third term at the end of 2019.

“We have faced the blows of a pandemic, and while the threat of COVID still isn’t over, we have withstood its challenges at every stage,” Moore said. “So much last year was out of our control. But we excelled at everything that was within our control.”

Moore commended city employees for working through the difficult year, which ended with $10.4 million in cash on hand for new projects and another $4.4 in the city’s “rainy day” reserve fund.

Despite the pandemic, several new businesses came to Jeffersonville in 2020, including a new movie theater, hotel, fitness center and several restaurants. To prop up existing businesses, the city distributed $10,000 each to 25 businesses, funded by a state grant.

“There’s so much more to come,” Moore said. “More than 2.4 million square feet of new commercial and industrial developments were permitted by our planning and zoning department in 2020, so you can expect to see a lot more businesses opening up this year.”

The city approved more than 1,300 new units in 2020, ranging from large subdivisions to apartment buildings. To support the new residents that will make their way to Jeffersonville, Moore said it’s important for the city to look towards infrastructure. 

Moore said the city will explore options to expand the wastewater treatment facility at River Ridge.

Work will begin on two major road projects: revamping Utica-Sellersburg Road between Highway 62 and Keystone Boulevard, and adding turning lanes, sidewalks and gutters to Charlestown Pike, one of the city’s most heavily-trafficked roads.

Moore asked residents to be patient as they take shape. Those projects will bring “growing pains,” he said, but they are important to the city’s future.

The Jeff Digs project will also enter its final phase, which will include an overhaul of the sewer system downtown. Without infrastructure improvements, Moore said Jeffersonville can’t take advantage of new opportunities for future growth.

“I know it’s going to be a pain,” he said. “But Jeff Digs will efficiently revitalize and expand our aging sewer infrastructure and is absolutely necessary in order to bring the City into compliance with federal clean water standards.”

The city will also continue to expand its new parks. Jeffersonville opened the 116-acre Chapel Lake Park and Shirley’s Arbor last year. The latter has only been open for a few months, but Moore said it has already generated more traffic than expected. Because of that, the city will add a new parking lot and playground to Shirley’s Arbor.

The NoCo Arts and Cultural District will also see additional growth, as work winds down on the Depot. Moore described the project, which sits just off Spring Street, as an artists’ village where vendors will set up shop in repurposed shipping containers.

“Public art remains an integral part of our commitment to improving the quality of life, and like I’ve said many times, nothing spurs economic development more than investing in amenities to improve the life for our residents,” Moore said.

Moore praised the city’s first responders, and a $750,000 federal grant to allow the Jeffersonville Police Department to partner with LifeSpring. Four social workers will be hired to help police respond to calls involving substance abuse.

While Moore’s address was largely positive, he criticized Greater Clark County Schools for closing two more elementary schools in Jeffersonville. He said the city has been “a good partner” to the school system, and that the decision to make the budget cuts “breaks his heart.”

“Sometimes one of the hardest things for me to accept is that there are some things I can’t control,” Moore said. “Especially when it’s something I care about so deeply. I cannot tell you how disheartening it is to see four of our city’s schools closed in less than two years while other communities in the school district weren’t asked to sacrifice on the same scale. Especially at a time when Jeffersonville is experiencing record growth, both in residents and in industry. “

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.