Muncie Mayor Tyler: First year exciting and fullfilling
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - After the first year as mayor of Muncie, Dennis Tyler had the opportunity to witness how people care about working together to make Muncie a truly great city to live, work and raise a family.
"It has been extremely exciting and fulfilling," said Tyler, a former state lawmaker and career firefighter.
Just watching Tyler in a crowd of people needing help or at a local school reminding youth how important education is illustrates the mayor's dedication making the community better.
Like most public leaders, Tyler said the top priority remains economic development to create good paying jobs that will help build families and community around them.
And to bring new employers, like a possible manufacturing that has been looking at eastern Indiana to locate, Muncie must have good infrastructure, quality education and fun recreation and culture to attract commerce and those who work for it.
It's like former Mayor Dan Canan, who is now president of the Fishers Chamber of Commerce says, people come to a community that has a great quality of life. And it also helps, like in Fishers' case, to be close to a larger metro area like Indianapolis, where the market is about 10 times larger than Muncie.
Tyler looks to see many improvements in Muncie during 2013 which already is evidenced by a housing boom around Ball State University, a possible housing development at the old Roberts Hotel and more money to rebuild the downtown and neighborhoods.
That hotel project and its development group is ready to go in the spring after financing is finalized, and the city is putting another $1 million into downtown building facades that could help fill some empty storefronts and bring more apartments.
An urban neighborhood project, a new community center in Industry using the old Garfield school, should begin this summer too. The Unity Center was a project initiated by Canan's administration, and funded by federal economic development and housing funds. It never got off the ground during the McShurley administration and now residents want to see inaction end.
The Muncie Housing Authority is spearheading the project and its board chairman, Ed Faulkner, has promised to get the project started this year. Residents also want to see some neighborhood businesses grow with that community effort.
Tyler also has brought change to the Muncie Sanitary District by putting businessman Bill Smith back in charge of the $30 million utility and government agency. Smith took steps to cut costs and reduce the bureaucracy of the district and plans to ensure the community along with White River is kept clean.
Fiscal responsibility is another priority of Tyler who promises not to raise taxes and live within current means. That has been difficult in recent years with property tax caps and using federal money to supplement public safety costs.
During a recent winter storm, Tyler also was pleased to see city employees doing a great job at clearing streets and providing other services. "I appreciate the work I see them doing on a daily basis," said the mayor.
With the expansion of Sallie Mae and 200 more jobs, and a manufacturer that could be tied to expansions of Honda and Chrysler in Indiana, Muncie could see an improved economy and a place more people call home in 2013.