Yorktown offers deal to residents affected by Canal Street redevelopment
Anderson’s Downtown can have an exciting future too...but at the moment City Government is sitting still as other Hoosier cities move ahead. Let’s get Anderson moving again!
YORKTOWN, Ind. — Yorktown officials might have found a compromise to frequent protests by locals about the use of eminent domain by offering residents along Canal Street who will affected by a redevelopment project the chance to remain in their homes until they die.
The town has been in negotiations with homeowners in the area in advance of redevelopment, set to begin within the next few months, that would bring a new pedestrian bridge to Morrow's Meadow, widen the streetscape and install sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Officials say the improvements will allow for a more walkable and accessible downtown area for all Yorktown residents.
The new bridge is intended to provide easier access between the park and downtown during community events and increased foot traffic to downtown-area businesses, a driving force in the support from town council members. According to the approved plans, the bridge’s downtown landing will be located between Plum and Vine Streets.
The town has not used eminent domain to obtain property for the construction of the bridge, though eminent domain was used in other portions of the redevelopment project.
Janice Ross is in price negotiations with the town after Delaware County Circuit Court Judge Kimberly S. Dowling ruled in favor of the town of Yorktown in an eminent domain case that seized several parcels of land from Ross, including a former grocery store along West Smith Street and her nearby home.
A group opposed to eminent domain in Yorktown, Yorktown United, physically delivered to the town council a petition with more than 105,000 signatures from across the U.S. in opposition use of eminent domain with Ross' property and any future cases.
The group rallied behind Ruby Martin, a blind 90-year-old women who did not want to leave her Canal Street home. The petition also featured Sharon and Jerry Puckett, an older couple concerned about losing their home.
After not saying much about the use of eminent domain for the rest of project, town officials have made impacted property owners offers that would allow them to remain in their homes for the rest of their lives if they agree to sell to the town.
Officials confirmed the offer was made to Ruby Martin and the Pucketts.
“The town is working with the existing property owners to find ways to make the project a reality while respecting individuals in the downtown,” said Matt Anderson, the president of the Yorktown Redevelopment Commission.
The Canal Street upgrade and bridge is one part of a larger downtown redevelopment project.
The overall project eventually will include a signature building that could be a high-end restaurant, the bridge to Morrow’s Meadow, greenspace and mixed use space of condos and retail.
Redevelopment has been planned along Canal Street between South Plum and Market streets since late 2016.
Town Manager Pete Olson said the upgrades planned for downtown will help attract and maintain businesses, which would boost the town’s economic sustainability and expand its commercial tax base.
Plans for the downtown project began as early as 2014, when the Yorktown Redevelopment Commission first invited members of the public to open houses and town hall meetings to discuss residents’ desires for downtown.
“The downtown plans were developed based on resident feedback, so the whole project is community-focused,” Olson said.
The commission hosted multiple meetings to which the public was invited, and the town council officially approved the downtown redevelopment plans at a public town hall meeting in December 2017. The approved plan included the Canal Street improvements and the construction of a new bridge.
More information about Yorktown’s downtown development plan can be found on the town's website: yorktownindiana.org