Harris on the Record

What impacts you and the media doesn't cover. – Art Harris

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Council Buying PNC Property On South Main

Zionsville’s Town Council took the first steps at its’ meeting Monday night to increase its’ properties – the PNC Bank’s holdings on South Main Street.

The property includes the bank building, the locksmith’s shop, and the parking lot on the southside of Hawthorne Street between South Main and First streets.

The council action approved hiring of two independent appraisers, as required by state law, to come up with costs for the potential purchase.

The parking lot, provincially referred to as the Friendly Tavern lot, owned by the bank and leased to the town for a minimal annual amount, is also the site of the popular Farmers’ Market, operating from May to September.

In accompanying action, the council also approved the use of the lot for the annual Saturday event with the Farmers’ Market Inc.

Well-placed sources have confirmed that PNC is in the process of unloading hundreds of its properties, and the Zionsville branch is on that list.

What the town would do with the property, if a purchase is approved, has not been made public. The purchase would probably be funded by a loan to the town should the town decide to buy the site.

Please understand this is only a possible use for part of the property, but using the site of the locksmith shop for a town visitor center with public restrooms would resolve two issues debated for years. That was until one of those matters was resolved this year when a visitors’ center was opened in the business district.

Regardless of how or what would be developed on the property, it would be critical for the town to retain the parking facility, used to great extent daily by patrons of the Friendly, one of the town’s most popular gathering places, hosted by its’ generally genial proprietor Scott Barnes.

Provided that the purchase of the property by the town comes to fruition, then maybe the historic ”Zionsville” sign can be returned to the corner of Main and Sycamore streets where it once was located.

Urban legend purports that the sign, made of iron, once adorned the Zionsville train station depot, located at the end of Laurel Avenue.

 Currently, the sign rests in the garage of a well-known town resident, who is most protective of the artifact and refuses to dilvulge its location, but is more than willing to return it to its’ previous location.


County GOP Failed Takeover Surprises

Last Saturday, an attempted coup d’etat of the Boone County Republican Party by the Zionsville-led forces of Chad Pittman et al crashed and burned big time.

And, Zionsville came out a loser.

Saturday, at the courthouse in Lebanon, county Republican precinct committee persons gathered to elect a slate of officers for the county GOP party.

Pittman’s horse was Steve Jacob, president of the Boone County Council, and vice-chair of the county GOP party.

Least you are unaware of Jacob’s credits, he married the daughter of Betty and Paul Green of Zionsville. Paul was a longtime former Boone GOP chairman, Betty’s father was also a county GOP chair.

Pittman was also backing Kate Swanson to become vice-chair.

Swanson was treasurer of the Pittman-organized Citizens for a Better Zionsville committee which swept the Zionsville Town Council elections in 2007.

Jacob also had the support Saturday of county councilor Gene “Dump the Bridge” Thompson, from Zionsville.

Pretty impressive bunch?

But, along came Debbie (Ottinger).

Ms. Ottinger, the county treasurer and longtime officeholder, was the reigning GOP county chair, and had second thoughts of passing the torch to Jacob.

She teamed-up with the popular Sheriff Ken Campbell as her vice-chair and the duo soundly tromped the Jacob-Swanson ticket by a goodly margin.

So, how will this play in Peoria for Zionsville?

Pittman and his camp may well be on the outs with the county GOP.

Pittman, of Zionsville, supported Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, for the U.S. Senate vacancy against Republican Richard Mourdock in the November ’12 election.

As a result, according to well-placed sources, there may be a move to strip Pittman of his precinct committee position because of his backing Donnelly.

About three years ago, Pittman, Jacob, and former Zionsville Town Council member Michelle Barrett began organizing a slate of precinct committee persons. Their the intent was to have supporters when occasions arose for committee persons to decide on candidates, such as a town council vacancy, as well as electing county political heads.

With the failed takeover of the county GOP machinery, fellow party members from Zionsville could get short shrift from the Lebanon Repubs when it comes time to fill party tickets, or fill party vacancies.

My advice to Pittman is to read Robrt Caro’s biography of President Lyndon Johnson, who when he was Senate majority leader always knew of his support ahead of a vote. He never failed to count his votes.

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