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Downtown events discussed at city meeting

Mayor Tom DeBaun, right, gave commendations to and thanked Shelbyville Street Department employees Cody Bassett, Greg Gault and Jonathan Merrick, left to right, at the Board of Works meeting on Tuesday for their actions to aid and comfort Otis Tilley, a long-time barber in Shelbyville,whothey discoveredtrapped by a car that had fallen on him. Tilley was taken to Methodist Hospital and died on May 8.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

The Shelbyville Board of Works meeting in City Hall on Tuesday wasn’t dominated by the “talk of the town” – it was the talk of the downtown.

In both the premeeting and the board’s regular meeting that followed, Mayor Tom DeBaun, city officials and nonprofit leaders went back and forth on a proposal to bring regular concerts to the Public Square.

Scott Fuchs, former owner of Capone’s Speekeasy on the Public Square, told the board at its June 4 meeting that he’d like to hold weekly concerts downtown.

At Tuesday’s premeeting, Brandy Coomes, executive director of Mainstreet Shelbyville, expressed mixed feelings about the idea.

“I have some concerns. I also have some support,” she said.

First Friday, the monthly celebration on and around the Public Square, is now in its fifth year, and many people, including downtown business owners, have put a lot into organizing it, Coomes noted.

Rachael Ackley, executive director of the Shelby County Tourism & Visitors Bureau, also was concerned, saying events such as the Taste of Shelby County which tourism puts on are not done for profit.

“We don’t expect to make money. We do it as a community service,” she said, a feeling also expressed by Coomes.

David Finkel, a member of the Board of Works and director of the Strand Theatre, was more supportive. He liked the idea of someone making greater use of the downtown.

“I say heck yeah,” Finkel said, though he agreed that those events should probably be done on a day other than Friday to prevent confusion with First Friday.

Mayor DeBaun believed there should be a coordinated effort to prevent overlap and suggested a possibility.

“It may be time for a community calendar,” he said, noting that in other communities the parks department handles that responsibility.

Board of Works member and former mayor Bob Williams noted that he tried to get the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce to do a regular community calendar years ago.

The Chamber now posts events on its website and does a good job, the participants agreed.

At the Board of Works regular meeting immediately after the premeeting, Fuchs asked about the status of his proposal and DeBaun replied that more details need to be worked out.

“I’m not trying to infringe on First Friday,” Fuchs said. 

Finkel asked about Saturdays, and Fuchs replied that, based on his experience with Capone’s Speekeasy, Fridays were a much better day with many more people downtown.

DeBaun suggested that Fuchs meet with Coomes and Ackley to come up with a plan.

In other matters, the Board of Works:

n Voted to approve Charles Shriver as a permanent police officer; 

n Approved traffic restrictions on County Road 200 West and 400 North on July 3 for the fireworks show put on by Indiana Grand Racing & Casino; 

n OK’d use of Harrison and Mechanic Streets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 30, July 14 and Aug. 18 for Walmart employees to collect money for Riley Hospital for Children;

n Heard from Finkel that broken street lights had been replaced through a joint effort with Duke Energy. He asked that citizens who notice a problem with any street light to contact the Shelbyville Street Department at 317-392-5169.