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2/6/2019 3:41:00 PM
Clarksville leaders talk growth, community in first State of the Town address
Blaze Pizza is part of the 5-acre mixed use Veteran's Crossing development near the Clarksville Town Hall, a retail spot which has been developed over the past two years. Staff file photo by Tyler Stewart
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Blaze Pizza is part of the 5-acre mixed use Veteran's Crossing development near the Clarksville Town Hall, a retail spot which has been developed over the past two years. Staff file photo by Tyler Stewart

Aprile Rickert, News and Tribune Crime and Courts Reporter

CLARKSVILLE — In its first State of the Town address Tuesday, Clarksville leaders discussed the major growth of the past half-decade and about some of what's to come.

Clarksville Town Council President Paul Fetter and Town Manager Kevin Baity delivered the roughly 45-minute presentation following the regular council meeting, giving an overview of where the town has been and what's planned for the future.

Recent changes include the 2016 hiring of the town manager — going to a new form of government — and council approval for district-wide voting. 

A master plan was completed in 2015 which laid the groundwork for hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and redevelopment projects — completed and in the works.

"There has been a lot that has happened in the town of Clarksville in the last six or seven years both related to project development and related to how we govern our town," Fetter said. Last year brought with it the promise of 450 new jobs and $115 million in private investments, leaders said.

"It's taken seven years and two elections, but this council has delivered on promises," Fetter said.

The oldest municipality in the state, where Lewis Meriwether and George Rogers Clark began their expedition of the Northwest Territory, now has a population of more than 21,000 and a growing number of amenities of which residents, and visitors, can take advantage.

"We are putting Clarksville on the map, and remember, it began here," Fetter said.

The last three years have included new investment in what was already a retail destination — the five acres of Veterans Crossing on Veterans Parkway near Sam Gwin Drive, which has been fully developed, creating 150 new jobs in the community. New businesses have opened at the former Peddler's Mall property off of Eastern Boulevard — now known as Gateway Crossing — which is near a new park, bringing the town's total to 13.

Work has begun on a two-mile stretch of former CSX railway for an urban trail, a new fire station is nearly complete, and the final connection in the Ohio River Greenway, a 7.5 mile mixed-use trail along the river, is almost finished. The town also completed upgrades to its wastewater treatment facility, built a new aquatic center and invested in the runway expansion at the Clark Regional Airport. Plans continue on the South Clarksville redevelopment projects. 

The town operates on around a $40 million budget with a staff of around 200. This includes 52 sworn police officers and 11 support staff and 38 firefighters. Clarksville police responded to 34,677 calls in 2018; the fire department 1,930.

In 2018, there were 875 building permits issues totaling $62 million, something town manager Baity said is "a great indicator of growth."

Town leaders say more is on the way, and to look for several big announcements in the coming months.

"I really foresee the town becoming iconic in Southern Indiana as we move to improve the value of our heritage," Fetter said. "The town of Clarksville being the first in the northwest territory, the Lewis and Clark trail expedition began here. The federal government is in the process of bringing that trail eastward and we will be an official designation," he said. "Clarksville is really historically significant."

Baity also explained to attendees how the town government is structured and what each town department does, introducing department leaders. He asked residents to get involved and invest in the area they call home.

"Everyone is working together to make Clarksville a great place to live, work, play and invest," he said. "I ask you to be positive about your town. get involved, volunteer, make a difference. Get to know your neighbors. Maybe even offer to assist your elderly neighbor down the street. Smile, wave."

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