State Street Project

Brian Hefele /

Though tensions flared last month between the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission and the board in charge of the city’s $120 million plan to overhaul State Street, the mood between the two was decidedly calmer at a meeting Wednesday night.

Just two weeks ago, the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission condemned those leading the ambitious State Street Redevelopment Project for their lack of transparency regarding its cost and scope. Commission President Larry Oates went so far as to call for a withdrawal of funding.

Purdue University


That’s the word Purdue officials have chosen for their reaction to a call from West Lafayette city leaders who wanted more transparency in the process of deciding which firms would spend as much as $120 million to overhaul State Street.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels says a little secrecy is the price of doing business, and says Purdue doesn’t have to help.

But city leaders admit they need the school to front the money or the job will never get started.

That’s just one of the topics on this edition of WBAA’s Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels.

Rieth Riley /

More than once in a presentation explaining how a consortium led by Rieth-Riley was chosen to retrofit State Street, Purdue University counsel Steve Schultz said the team followed the letter of the law.

After the meeting, the university’s lawyer pronounced himself “perplexed” about the call for more openness.

“This project has had more public meetings approving the project than probably any one in the history of the city of West Lafayette," Schultz says. "So from the University’s perspective, we are puzzled by this clamor for more transparency.”

City of West Lafayette

As the winning bid for West Lafayette’s State Street overhaul is set to be announced, the city’s Redevelopment Commission is expressing its displeasure with the process.

In a largely symbolic 3-2 vote Wednesday, the Commission decried what it sees as a lack of transparency in the so-called “build-operate-transfer” process.

City Attorney Eric Burns tried to assuage the concerns of Board Chair Larry Oates, but Oates pounded on his desk and insisted on trying to slow down the Joint Board overseeing the project.

City of West Lafayette /

The State Street redesign is one of the most ambitious – and costly – projects the city of West Lafayette has ever attempted.

But is its expected $60-80 million price tag an albatross around the city’s neck that prevents leaders from improving water infrastructure at a time some west side residents are complaining they’re poorly served?

John Dennis faces that question and more this week on Ask The Mayor.

Also coming up in this half hour: Speaking of projects that have hung around too long, a listener wants to know when she can get back into Happy Hollow Park.

City of West Lafayette /

The city of West Lafayette is getting ready to issue bonds to pay for the State Street redesign. A proposal before the city council would allow the city to seek up to $78 million worth. But that’s in the ballpark for how much the whole project – whose cost is shared by Purdue – is supposed to cost. Today on Ask The Mayor, West Lafayette’s John Dennis helps us sort out the math.

City of West Lafayette

Since he was unopposed in Tuesday’s election, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis has had the luxury of spending the last several months working more on the State Street redesign than running for office.

On this week’s Ask The Mayor, we ask about a couple tangential issues – whether now is the right time for the city to get its own water utility and whether the failure of a plan to secure regional planning dollars hurts the city as it gets set to pay what could be a $50 million bill for the project.

Purdue Research Foundation

Rolls-Royce has announced plans to build a 40,000-square foot facility at Purdue. The company is the first tenant in the university research park’s newly-established Aerospace District.