Charlestown residents working to keep developers away from Pleasant Ridge area

Residents working to keep developers away from Pleasant Ridge area

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WAVE) - People living in Charlestown's Pleasant Ridge neighborhood are gearing up for what lies ahead.

Homeowners say the city has been using fines to force them out so a private developer can take over.

“It’s been a wonderful place to live,” said Beverly Cairnes, who, like many of her neighbors, has lived in Pleasant Ridge her whole life. “(It’s) just a little harder to work with now.”

Over the past five years, residents have been fighting the city from coming in to re-develop the neighborhood. A lawsuit claims the city imposed unecessary fines to force people to sell their land to the developer, but now, many see hope.

“I feel like we have opportunities coming, ways of doing things, ways to help the people who are in the neighborhood still, ways to see what we can do to make this better,” Cairnes said.

One thing that’s helped boost morale is that the neighborhood has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The homes were built in the 1940s for workers at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant.

“This really set the stage for a lot of the post-World War II neighborhoods you see, not just in Indiana but throughout the country,” historian Gregory Sekula said.

The neighborhood association is now working with the momentum from that designation.

“We want people to realize moving forward we are just as much a part of Charlestown as anyone else is, and we want to be a part of it,” said Josh Craven, a spokesman for the neighborhood association.

Planning to provide some free maintenance and materials for residents to spruce up their properties, and expanding neighborhood events, the association hopes to build not only a better neighborhood, but also improve the rest of the city’s perceptions.

“A lot of people think we are just the same little people on the hill doing nothing, but (we’re) trying to save our homes,” Craven said. “That couldn’t be more far from the truth. It’s not even funny because we try to do more than that.”

Added Cairnes: “We are here to stay. We enjoy this place and we want to stay here.”

The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association is funding its improvement projects through two properties it bought, renovated, and rented out. It also plans to organize more community fundraisers and build partnerships in the city.

The city said the historical aspect doesn’t affect anything they’re trying to do. The courts still have to make a decision on the case Nov. 12.

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