What we think: CUB, Hardesty boost civic center project

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The donation by Citizens Unon Bank and the moral support of Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty are important to the effort to build a downtown theater/convention complex.

That was a double dose of good news last week for the so-called City Centre project that would bring a much-needed enhancement to downtown Shelbyville, a theater/conference center project to be built on the block surrounding the Shelby County Community Theatre.

This is the inspired brainchild of educator Leon Mooneyhan, who has been working methodically with a small group of partners to pull together all the plans and funding needed for such a facility.

And now he has received two early Christmas gifts.

One is in the form of parcels or property on the block donated by Citizens Union Bank through the City of Shelbyville.

The second was the enthusiastic support from Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty that was apparent at the announcement/photo op for CUB’s donation.

These were the most significant steps since Mr. Mooneyhan introduced the project in 2009 and has been busy procuring funding and initiating a feasibility study to help move along the concept.

Shelbyville, Shelby County Public Schools and the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative – where Mr. Mooneyhan is CEO – were early contributors, and in recent months Shelby County Fiscal Court anted its share of the cost of the study.

But those aren’t the only important milestones that have been accomplished.

One of the more delicate hurdles that was part of this concept was the location of Operation Care at the corner of 8th and Washington streets, and that was cleared earlier this year with Op Care’s move into a new building on Main Street.

And now CUB President David Bowling has continued the bank’s historically proactive contributions to the public by acquiring and presenting to the effort two dilapidated, shotgun-styled houses that would have added acquisition cost to the overall project plan.

By doing it through the city, too, the project can become eligible for grants to help in the removal and clearing of the property, further reducing costs.

Still, we think the most important point is the commitment of Mr. Hardesty.

No, we don’t think he is positioning the city to contribute a large piece of cash to this project – neither should he be – but his presence does offer to the public an important political and government ally on which Mr. Mooneyhan can call for important support as this moves forward.

We are not inured to the possibility that the feasibility study may present immediate and significant obstacles to this project. We don’t know what it might say.

But we believe that with the obvious backing of Mr. Bowling and Mr. Hardesty, those obstacles can be removed far more easily.