TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Longtime Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett updated residents on numerous projects and efforts throughout the city Thursday.
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, attended by more than 220 people at the Terre Haute Convention Center Thursday morning.
Executive director of the Terre haute Chamber, Kristen Craig, spoke about how the address provided an overall view of what is to come. “It really provides that … view of everything that’s happening in the city of Terre Haute, IN, in the county, in the region, and how all of these things are coming together… to create a more positive environment in our community.”
The mayor listed two goals as part of his community plan-driven approach. His primary goal is to halt the city’s population decline. While the second goal was to reverse the trend of declining per capita personal income for city residents.
According to the mayor, 2023 marks the 8th straight year the city has had a balanced budget. The mayor touted $758 million in private investment in the city.
Speaking about the Wabash River RDA, the mayor said they received $20 million in READI grant funding with projects already moving forward.
When discussing major city infrastructure projects, the mayor mentioned Margaret Avenue improvements among other projects.
Citing data from the city’s community census, the mayor said life is improving for most residents showing a .5 improvement between spring and fall 2022 surveys when residents were asked to rate their satisfaction with life in Terre Haute/Vigo County on a scale of 0-10. The mayor also said more residents believe the community is changing for the better as well. Those same positive feelings were felt throughout the mayor’s address Thursday.
Speaking about American Rescue Plan Act funding the city has received, the mayor said the team has designated a number of areas of interest in looking to fund projects including housing, stormwater, parks, child care, and food deserts, among other topics.
Looking back at projects from 2022 the mayor touted 1.38 miles of sidewalks replaced, as well as roads improved using funds from the 2022 Community Crossings Grant:
- Poplar Street – 1st Street to 25th Street
- Fort Harrison Road – US 41 to 13th Street
- Blakely Avenue – Wabash Avenue to 6th Avenue
- Fruitridge Avenue – 6th Avenue to Maple Avenue
During the mayor’s 2022 address, he had set a goal of 80-90 condemned buildings to be demolished. The city fell short of that goal, with 61 houses and 5 garages demolished. A large increase over 2021 which the mayor called a “down year” in last year’s address. Looking forward, to 2023, the mayor said their condemned properties list sits at 198 houses, 19 garages, and 6 commercial buildings. He hopes to see 60-70 of those demolished this year.
Discussing the coming Queen of Terre Haute Casino Resort, the mayor said all permits have been issued and construction is fully underway. Due to rising labor and construction costs the original estimated cost has risen by $30 million.
With an opening set for March 2024, the mayor gave some estimates for expected incoming revenue from the casino.
Estimated gaming revenue to the community – $10 million
- $5 million – City of Terre Haute
- $3 million – LSA/Foundation
- $2 million – Split with City, County, VCSC, & Regional Planning
Looking forward the 2023 plan consisted of six community plan pillars. The pillars include:
- Economic Development
- Health & Wellness
- Talent Attraction/Retention
- Quality of Life
Craig said, “Today’s message with the mayor talked about so many of the positive things and no one can deny that in the last couple of years, we have seen so much progress.”
The three biggest takeaways from the meeting that Bennett feels would matter most to our community, included the quality-of-life project, (including parks, infrastructure, street improvements) workforce development, and housing.
“We build more houses, we make this a place people want to be because of quality of life, and we help the workforce to increase their household income through better job opportunities, that’s where we’ll all be successful,” Bennett said.
Bennett and Craig are excited to see many projects come to fruition, now that funding is coming through.
“We’ve positioned ourselves with our planning, our accomplishments of those things, and now we have funds available to us through READI, ARPA, the casino, we’re going to be able to invest in the community like we’ve never been able to do before, Bennett said.
Mayor Bennett is looking forward to continuing working with the community, to keep the momentum going. He said the residents should be excited about where Terre Haute is heading and what’s to come.