Muncie IN working together to improve quality of life, place

Community leaders look at eliminating poverty, blight

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Muncie's community leaders talked about ways Monday to provide new housing and jobs while eliminating slum and poverty in advance of the city's 150th anniversary in 2015.

Mayor Dennis Tyler brought the group together to give an update on some projects and more than needs to be done to clean up Muncie's inner city neighborhoods.

Such diverse interests like Jud Fisher, president and CEO of Ball Brothers Foundation and George Branam, who directs the Muncie Action Plan group, met with Bill Smith, president of the Muncie Sanitary District and Muncie City Council President Julius Anderson, among others to look at some facts about Muncie and address needs in life and place.

There's no question that more than 70 percent of Muncie school students receive free and reduced lunches while thousands of homes are empty.

Tyler recently directed the city's Community Development office to secure federal money aimed at reducing slum and blight in inner city neighborhoods. 

And there was talk about consider new market tax credits to build more new housing as the community is seeing more student housing,  besides assisted and senior housing being built.

Branam said the planning group had offered several ways to improve the community, many which the mayor and government has implemented.

But he said there was more work to raise some out of poverty besides help others with health concerns.

Phil Tevis, who works with Flatland Resources, offered demographics about the community and has been hired by local government to rebuild infrastructure in advance of more development like a new downtown hotel.

Tyler mentioned the $25 million hotel that will be a Courtyard by Marriott that is next to the Horizon Convention Center. The city also is planning an $8 million parking garage that will serve those properties and new loft apartments at the old Roberts Hotel.

A bigger $60 million project is underway at the University Village where an apartment building called Village Promenade will including housing, parking and retail shops on University Avenue.

Even more infrastructure work will be done there to improve utilities and streets.

Local foundations like Ball Brothers help the life improvement like a recent grant to renovate Camp Adventure and also provide preschool education opportunities at Appletree Child Development Center.

Business interests like the Delaware County Economic Development Alliance also made it clear there's two ready to occupy manufacturing buildings in Muncie and Daleville with a third being constructed this summer in the south Muncie industrial center.

Tyler said the key to improved life and place was everyone working together for a better community.