Indiana, PA - Indiana County

CANDIDATE: Nancy Jones

by RANDY WELLS rwells@indianagazette.net on October 29, 2013 10:00 AM

Nancy Jones attended Indiana council meetings long before she was elected to the body.

“I spent a year going to the podium” to speak out against the traditional neighborhood development overlay zone, she said, and with her neighbors delivered a petition to council opposing the proposed ordinance that would encourage developers to acquire property near the campus, even in some R-2 residential zones, and build high-density housing units to draw students from rental properties in the residential neighborhoods.

Jones said she and her neighbors told council, “Please don’t do this to our neighborhood.” Council tried to convince her it was a good financial deal because her property could be sold to developers. But, she said, she and her neighbors wanted to preserve their neighborhood for the people already living there, not make it more suitable for someone else.

“I made no bones about why I was running” in 2007, she said. A main plank in her platform was opposition to the TND overlay. She voted for its repeal in July.

“I’ve tried to be more compassionate (as a council member) because I know what it’s like to face those 12 council members” and feel they weren’t listening or planned to go ahead with any agenda, despite passionate opposition, Jones said. “I’m not a landlord. I’m not a business owner. I really feel I can address the concerns of residents because that’s what I am.”

Jones, now council president, is completing her sixth year in office and said protecting residential neighborhoods continues to be her primary goal on council.

Jones said she was the council member, as chairwoman of the Administration Committee, who argued against a long-term lease for the Indiana Free Library in the borough-owned Community Center Building.

“As a (retired) teacher, I’m concerned about the library,” she said, but she’s also concerned about the safety of the people working there and using the library. The century-old building needs extensive repairs.

The lease dispute attracted the attention of the public and of local elected officials who helped secure a $500,000 state grant for repairs.

“We needed attention to drive this,” she said. “Getting funds for the library is huge.”

Jones said she’s been accused of being too negative recently about the disruptions caused by students and out-of-towners during the IUP Homecoming weekend.

“I can’t be positive about vandalism and theft,” she said, adding that some residents have thanked her for speaking out about the excesses of homecoming.

“I personally feel with the rising cost of the police overtime, we need to get some financial help” for homecoming, possibly from IUP and the borough’s landlords of student rentals, she said.

“Again, we’re not raising taxes. I’m very proud of that,” she said. “Our downtown looks beautiful. It was a good move to give some of our CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) money” to the downtown streetscape enhancements and to construction of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. “I think we made a lot of good partnerships” through those contributions, she said.

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