Decatur Township residents win fight to build parking facility
Homeowners won a victory Wednesday in a fight to bring a new parking option near the Indianapolis International Airport. A private group got approval to open a pay lot just southeast of the airport, but with the tax money going to the community rather than the airport authority.
The Metropolitan Development Commission passed the plan on a 6-2 vote, but only after a lengthy debate. The City of Indianapolis and the airport argued against the plan.
Less than two miles from the airport is a 31-acre field in the Ameriplex area. That's where developers plan to build a large parking facility.
Fast Park and Relax would provide covered parking for 3,700 vehicles. Several nearby residents who attended a hearing Wednesday strongly support it.
"Because we need the tax dollars," said Mary Wolf, resident. "Decatur pays one of the highest tax rates in Marion County. Too much of our ground is being used non-taxable."
"It would be dollars that would come to Decatur Township that we could use to help fund the fire department, poor relief, all township government entities," said Dale Henson.
But the mayor's office and the airport are strongly opposed. They say parking is not the best use of the land. They're also concerned that the parking facility would compete directly with the airport, which relies on parking as its largest source of revenue.
"It wasn't created for a parking operation and including a parking operation that could put the airport in a situation where it drains airport revenues," said Michael Huber, deputy mayor.
That argument doesn't fly with neighborhood leaders Pat Andrews and Chip Pearson. They point out that the airport already receives significant tax breaks.
"They're supposed to be an economic development engine for the area and instead they're acting like tax-free business that's gonna kill the competition by throwing its weight around," said Andrews.
"We support competition and if parking operators want to enter the Indianapolis market they have a lot of different parcels to choose from, but not Ameriplex," said Huber.
Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) Board President Michael Wells issued this statement regarding modification of the land-use plan for parking:
"The new Midfield Terminal and surrounding infrastructure at the Indianapolis International Airport were built to sustain long-term growth. As a result, passengers already enjoy ample parking capacity on and around the airport. With a significant portion of existing parking assets currently underutilized, the IAA did not believe the development of additional airport parking represented the most productive use of the land. Nonetheless, the IAA will continue to offer a variety of competitive and convenient parking options that benefit passengers and add significant value to the airport."