IS IT TRUE? February 18, 2011


The Mole #??

IS IT TRUE? February 18, 2011

IS IT TRUE that the slots for candidates for Evansville City Council are filling up and in some cases over filling to the point that 3 person primaries will be needed to determine the nominations?…that the 2nd Ward City Council seat now has contested primaries for both major political parties?…that the eDebate between the Democratic candidates Missy Mosby and Patrick McBride will be next Monday in the Community Observer?…that another epic battle is looming in the 2nd Ward between Republican nomination seekers E. Lon Walters and Bill Kramer?…that the at-large seats already have three candidates from each party and Mole #13 tells us that a highly qualified individual may be filing today forcing a primary for the at-large field?

IS IT TRUE that a couple of the City County Observer Moles took advantage of the spring weather to take a trip into the Front Door Pride district in and around Goosetown yesterday?…that the tour guide was none other than the Director of Metropolitan Development Mr. Tom Barnett?…that the Moles were leaning negatively prior to accepting the guided tour?…that some Mole minds may have changed a little?…that there are a few places where entire blocks have either been refurbished or torn down and replaced with FDP houses?…that when entire blocks have been reclaimed that the housing is nice, occupied, and has the look of neighborhood?…that in the locations where the complement was a nice FDP home surrounded by vacant lots or dilapidated crack houses that the FDP homes still have for sale signs up?…that those for sale signs are getting dusty and losing some of their color to UV damage from extended exposure to the sun?…that significant and sustainable change takes cleaning out blocks at a time to separate the new residents from crime and blight?…that Tom Barnett understands this very well but is drastically underfunded from the perspective of really cleaning it all up and making it attractive to the educated young professionals that Evansville is in desperate need of?

IS IT TRUE that one of the most beautiful homes that the Moles were privileged to have a look at was the Evansville Living Idea Home?…that this is perhaps the best and most beautiful reclaimed home in the Washington Avenue corridor?…that over $500,000 was invested in bringing the IDEA HOME up to modern standards with classic elegance?…that this home has been on the market for nearly 6 months and only has an asking price of under $200,000?…that this house in any prosperous American city in a safe and completely reclaimed neighborhood would easily fetch over $1 Million?…that as long as the house next door is patrolled by free range pit bulls that have open front door access to the house, has dilapidated houses across the alley and as far as a child can walk to the school bus, this home will not attract a family of young educated professionals?…that the IDEA HOME represents everything that the Washington corridor and Goosetown can be but that the homes that completely surround it represent why it hasn’t been and why it probably won’t?…that to really create a Johnson Place atmosphere as the Washington corridor once was would require 40 or 50 IDEA HOMES, a demilitarized barrier (maybe a wall) of at least a lot on the entire perimeter, schools that compete with Scott for ISTEP achievement, and the crime to be eradicated?…that the part of that scenario that can be bought will cost $30 Million to $50 Million that Evansville does not have and will not get unless there is a dramatic shift in the local economy?

IS IT TRUE that the Moles were also shown non FDP areas that make Goosetown look pretty darn good?…that Mr. Barnett’s presentation where he revealed that over 8,000 homes in the City of Evansville need over $100k of work each just to be habitable seems like an understatement?…that one Mole has been to 3rd world countries like Indonesia, central Mexico, rural China, and Thailand?…that parts of the City of Evansville have the same look and feel to them as these third world countries and that these places are within walking distance of downtown Evansville?…that the best thing that could happen to some of these areas would be demolition?…that Evansville has nearly 10,000 abandoned homes?…that Evansville has lost 24,000 residents in the last 50 years?…that incidentally coincides quite closely to the number of abandoned homes?…that these homes given the present population and continued contraction are simply not needed?…that demolishing 10,000 abandoned and uninhabitable homes would only cost around $50 Million (the same as getting a Johnson Place atmosphere on Washington)?

IS IT TRUE that a massive demolition would not only “right size” the housing stock of the City of Evansville but it would save a COUPLE of BILLION DOLLARS?….that empty lots do not need sewers?…that it stands to reason that the EPA mandated bill to separate the combined sewers will be reduced by massive demolition as well?…that the Moles came away from this experience with a high level of admiration and respect for Tom Barnett and the task that he has taken on?…that the Moles are also awestruck and shell shocked at the advanced state of dilapidation in much of the housing stock of the City of Evansville?


  1. Maybe it’s this IDEA home that should be razed, and sold for scrap while there may be some value left?

    Oh… right, that would break these “expert”, economic planners hearts. Because they selected that home to slush tons of taxpayer money into it.

    Cannot the CCO put together the fact that just like Tom Hanks and Shelley Long found the negatives of sinking tons of money into an old house… when government does it… you get kids with needle injuries, no jobs, rising food costs and stagnation?

    By the way, did you just try to convince us that Barnett is “underfunded” for FDP, while telling us a story about the 1/2 million he spent in a home that isn’t worth 200K?

    Did you also try to convince us that this is anything other than a massive boondoggle?

    • We were not trying to convince you or anyone else of anything. We simply presented the numbers and painted the picture of what is down there. If Tom is to make real and sustainable change he is drastically underfunded. If he were handed $50M to create a Johnson Place on Washington would there be enough affluent people to sell them to? It is doubtful given the types of jobs that are here and what the local pay scales are. Whether or not the Evansville economy will ever support the number of high paying jobs that it will take to fix these problems is doubtful. I sense that you have similar conclusions.

      • Is it true that you could take a tour around Evansville and see which shiny commercial/industrial buildings are government subsidized vs. the rusted, dilapidated ones that are not? Is it true that the differences are big and getting worse?

        Is this really a trend we want to continue in our housing stock?

  2. put weinzapfel and barnett in a bag ,shake for 30 minutes and it will still come out just as worthless

      • As of the noon deadline, a total of 5 Democrats filed for city council at large: Dan Adams, Connor O’Daniels, Sonya Nixon, Steve Smith, and Jonathan Weaver.

        Six Republicans filed for city council at large!

  3. I have an entirely different perspective on the whole mess. I don’t think you spoke to any of the people who were living in the area, people working as artists and if they had HALF the money that was spent on the idea home, they would not have been forced to move or face losing their homes from constant code enforcement charges. Tom Barnett destroyed my downtown dream. I will never have anything but a bad opinion of him.

  4. Please use correct numbers. The amount spent was just under 300k not 500k. Instead of tearing down a now national award winning project that was a home run by anyones standard why be determined to find fault with it?

    • Our source for the pricing was Mr. Barnett yesterday. The square footage of the property and the standard cost to refurbish classic homes supports a $500k cost.

    • We also were very open that the house is beautiful and would command $1M or more in a safe neighborhood in a prosperous place. We find no fault with the Idea Home. The faults with its location are as obvious as the pit bulls next door.

  5. Is it true that backdoor slide homes cost 300M to build and they sell for 135M? Is it true you would have to be a moron to think this economically feasible? Is it true that two of these gems have been sold to City Council members relatives? Is it true if you let the market work and stop with the central planning

  6. It sounds good on one hand but given that our Section 8 housing is full and even the waiting list is closed I think we need to make sure everyone has a home, then demolish the rest.

    • Many of the homes that are habitable are functionally obsolete. By that I mean that if you have a low payment of say $300 but a Vectren bill of $650 due to poor insulation your cost to live is higher than just buying or renting a recently built $100k home that has relatively low utility bills. The shrinking population eliminates the need for these homes even if they are repaired. Adding housing in a place that is losing people doesn’t seem to make sense to me. It drives prices down as is evidenced by the 50% or more off homes that are “on sale” in the FDP area. If Evansville wants to fill the houses and see them refurbished it has to reverse the outward flow of people.

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