Fishers, Food & Displacement

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December 23, 2016 4:13 PM

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It’s amazing how one simple word on a Web site news story headline can result in so many Fishers elected officials becoming upset.  Allow me to explain.

Fox 59 and WTTV are two television stations with separate on-the-air news anchors, but they both share the same owner and the same news-gathering operation.  Both posted a news story on their respective news Web sites about a development coming to Fishers called “The Yard.”

This development has food as its theme and will be located near the IKEA store currently under construction near Interstate 69 and 116th Street.  To pave the way for the culinary development, 21 families in Springfield Estates sold their homes to the developer, Thompson Thrift.

In the headline for its online story about the announcement of this development, Fox  59 and WTTV said the project would be “displacing 21 families.”  Some members of the Fishers City Council were not pleased with the use of the word “displacing” in that headline.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness took to Facebook and posted the following statement:

“To clarify, the residents in this neighborhood worked independently with the developer to voluntarily come to an agreement on selling their homes. This was done prior to the city’s involvement in the project.”

In other words, Thompson Thrift arranged the deal to buy all those homes before coming to the city with the project proposal, based on the mayor’s statement.  It should also be noted that these 21 homes are not in the City of Fishers as of this writing, but there are plans to annex that land as The Yard project moves forward.

Reporter Brian Bondus did talk to a resident of Springdale Estates, Mike Bowers, who was quoted in the online story this way:

“It’s painful and we certainly would have preferred staying here, but we do understand that progress is something that comes no matter where you are.”

The homeowners were paid a premium to sell their homes to Thompson Thrift, and none of the Springdale Estates residents have come before the Fishers City Council to complain about the deal.  There was no threat from the city to exercise its legal right of eminent domain.

So, the question remains, were these Springdale Estates residents “displaced?”

I like to check the dictionary when presented with such an issue.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides the following definition:

“to remove from the usual or proper place; specifically :  to expel or force to flee from home or homeland <displaced persons>”

Based on that definition, “displaced” would not likely be the most accurate description of this situation.

Would the Springdale Estates residents have preferred to remain in their homes without all the development coming to their neighborhood?  Based on Mike Bowers comments to reporter Brian Bondus, the answer to that question is yes.

Did the residents voluntarily sell based on all the coming development and the premium price offered by the developer?  That answer to that question appears to also be yes.

Were these residents “displaced?”  I’ll leave that up to you.

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