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Relations between Muncie and Ball State University are not at their best, and that’s no secret. Thankfully, President Mearns has started working quickly in his still-fresh tenure here to make good in addressing that issue and growing our campus closer to its home. Muncie is a great place deserving our university’s respect, and I’m not only glad but proud of the headway that Mearns has begun to make. Just last week, in fact, Mearns sat at the first Better Together public forum to begin that dialogue. I applaud that.
It’s a pity that certain members of our Board of Trustees don’t share the desire to build our relationship with Muncie, and would rather sue the city instead.
On Sept. 20, Tom Bracken, of the Ball State Board of Trustees, sued the City of Muncie over a $4.5 million loan that was approved by the Muncie City Council to fund the MadJax Muncie project — an innovative startup owned by Sustainable Muncie, designed to encourage new entrepreneurs and businesses to startup, as well as to improve quality of life in the City of Muncie. Tom’s argument in his Star Press column? That MadJax just “lacks common sense.” Tom Bracken tells us that MadJax, a center for startup businesses in Muncie, lacks business sense.
Not only is MadJax an ingenuitive project that will grow Muncie, Ball State’s relationship with the community, and improve lives, but MadJax is also everything Tom Bracken seems to think it is not. On top of that, however, is the fact that I don’t believe that Tom dislikes MadJax because of its traits; rather, he dislikes it because it won over his proposal. When the City of Muncie began to determine what to do with the vacant Cintas space, two major proposals came — MadJax and Tom’s idea of building a park. Not just any park, either, but a 10-acre behemoth, with an underground parking garage and six roads running through it that would have required razing half the buildings in its way. It was a bad proposal, presented badly — which is why it lost to MadJax.
MadJax, on the other hand, already has several terrific start-up tenants, which work closely with our university. Tribune Showprint, the oldest continuously operating print shop in the country, relocated from Fowler to Muncie just to work from the space. Most recently, The Guardian Brewing Company moved to the MadJax space. MadJax is growing, creating local jobs and improving our community’s quality of life by being the single most important goal in the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance’s Vision 2021 Economic Development Plan. If Tom would like to see the MadJax project fail, I hope he can explain why he believes these terrific businesses don’t deserve a home in Muncie.
Tom’s lawsuit is no more than spilled grapes and a terrible representation of our university. Tom shouldn’t act so recklessly to divide this city we learn and live in while we work so hard to rebuild a relationship that has deteriorated and should not be a Ball State Trustee.
— Trevor Preddy, junior urban planning major