On February 7, Mayor Jim Lienhoop had the opportunity for a private meeting with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and State Representative Milo Smith to discuss issues and concerns. Mayor Lienhoop used the opportunity to welcome Governor Holcomb to office by presenting him with two gifts from Columbus, a copy of the Thomas Schiff coffee table book on Columbus, Indiana and coasters displaying 4 iconic Columbus buildings, which the Governor immediately began using on his office coffee table.
The first topic of discussion was the impact of the expected increase in railroad traffic in late 2018 along the downtown and State Road 46 intersection. Mayor Lienhoop shared the results of work done by City staff and volunteers to collect data, select options for a solution, and those solutions presented to INDOT. Mayor Lienhoop emphasized the impact an estimated 20 trains a day through Columbus would have on residents, local businesses, schools, emergency services and daily life. Of all RR crossings between Louisville and Indianapolis, the crossing at SR 46 is the most impacted on the line, with twice as many delays as the next highest impacted crossing. Because SR 46 is a state highway, INDOT has authority over the roadway and will be instrumental in helping to fund whatever solution is put in place.
Mayor Lienhoop shared the frustrations experienced by the City with the state’s process of providing budget revenue estimates for local governments, and the resulting restrictions placed on local units such as Columbus during budget preparation.
The Governor and Mayor Lienhoop discussed the statewide focus promoted by the Governor to deal with substance abuse and drug addiction. Mayor Lienhoop shared that Bartholomew County has started a new initiative through Healthy Communities Council and offered the community’s help wherever possible.
Finally, Mayor Lienhoop expressed the City’s support for a proposal by Indiana University to add a Masters of Architecture degree housed in Columbus. The Indiana Commission on Higher Education will be voting on this proposal at their March meeting. Mayor Lienhoop talked about the 70+ architectural buildings, landscapes and public art pieces in Columbus and the importance of promoting the design and culture represented by these items. The group discussed the importance of our community’s partnership with IU through the IU Center of Art and Design, which is in downtown Columbus. A Master’s degree in Architecture in Columbus would continue to grow the design heritage that community leaders have spent decades building in our community.