A friend recently remarked to me that it must be nice to have a “forum” available to write about whatever I choose or to help direct editorial content by assigning stories based often on what I hope others will find as interesting as I do.
Well yes … and no. As most of you in this community know, the city of Evansville is not as cohesive as we should be on moving our collective needle forward. No matter where you stand on some of our upcoming projects and those that are underway, it is undeniable, especially in Downtown Evansville, that we are experiencing business growth and development. Some projects but not all include:
The Lloyd Expressway-Highway 41 interchange is shaping up to be a dramatic improvement. Not only aesthetically pleasing, it also will result in the reduction of two stoplights on the Lloyd as well as a much improved traffic flow.
It does appear the Downtown Evansville hotel project is planned for construction in August or September. Although not what originally anticipated, it still will provide a facility to help bring in conventions and visitors wishing to stay Downtown. The Indiana University School of Medicine – Evansville also anticipates breaking ground soon for the medical education and research partnership, which many feel will be the most transformative project undertaken in Downtown Evansville in decades.
We could soon see Tropicana Evansville (I think likely) build a casino on land adjacent to its hotel and conference complex across from the current “boat.” Manhattan-based Haier America, which produces various home appliances, just renovated the former Coca-Cola distribution building and opened its first U.S. product technical center. Also look for the former McCurdy Hotel on Evansville’s Riverfront to be renovated into 113 apartments. The hotel is on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered places list.
Last but certainly not least is the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative. Our Regional Development Authority is one of 11 regions across the state vying to be one of two selected to receive up to $42 million to improve the quality of life and potential infrastructure. This is expected to be awarded in the fourth quarter. Talk about a game changer!
As I suspect many of us do when returning from an absence from Evansville, I looked at a few things with an objective eye after being out of the country recently. I was quite surprised to see our brand new “Welcome to Evansville” sign and sculpture area near the airport poorly landscaped and weed-choked. C’mon, it’s brand new.
Two minutes down the road, our “Welcome to Evansville” sign on Highway 41 fared only a little better, but it’s not too welcoming. Later that day, while visiting Wesselman Park Nature Center for the Deaconess Women’s Hospital Classic tennis tournament, I was struck by the mess (yes, mess) that was the garden at the entrance to the park. Why, with so many visitors that week, was it not cleaned up? And anyone who has traveled N. Burkhardt Road knows what the medians look like. We can do better, Evansville.
I struggled with writing the last part of this letter. Aug. 1 is my father William F. “Bill” Tucker Jr.’s 80th birthday. Anyone who knows my father will understand when I simply say he is one-of-a-kind. My father has stood with me every step of my life and I can never give back what he has given me. He is my best man, best friend, and grandfather to my boys (who think grandpa “rules”).
You, sir, are loved and appreciated by many. So I know as I write this what an outpouring of love and affection you will receive at your surprise party. And I want to thank you publicly for giving me the greatest gift you could give a person — believing in me.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker