Jeanette Surina 1921 - 1991 Surina Way is more than a street in Greenwood. It’s a community culture championed by the late Jeanette (Lyons) Surina – whose influence and leadership paved a remarkable path at a critical time in the city’s history. Jeanette and her husband, Charles (Chick) were successful developers in Central Indiana (Surina-Buzek Construction and Surina Development) who built and owned Chipperfield Shoppes and the popular Big Red Barn skating rink on North Madison Avenue across from Greenwood Park Mall. She also worked as the House Clerk in the Indiana Statehouse and was instrumental in the Capitol’s refurbishment in 1965. But it was her work as Greenwood’s Mayor where her public legacy is best remembered. In 1984, she was the first female mayor to serve Greenwood and the first Democrat in 20 years. Elected to two terms and serving for seven years, Surina led the city’s transition from a small town mostly known for a mall to a vibrant Indianapolis suburb. During her tenure, the city (among many accomplishments): • Annexed the Valle Vista subdivision and fixed its aging sewers and streets • Purchased the privately owned airport and secured federal funds to upgrade its runway and hangars, enabling it to become a designated reliever airport for Indianapolis International • Attracted the county’s first Japanese high-tech manufacturing company, Alpine Electronics • Renovated the old Polk Community Building into a new City Hall – moving city employees out of an aging, dilapidated former interurban train garage • Established more professional hiring practices for police officers, and hiring the city’s first full-time firefighters • Funded significant infrastructure upgrades – including expansion of Emerson Avenue and construction of a sewer line under Interstate 65 that opened residential and industrial development east of the highway. When Greenwood landed Alpine, company officials cited Jeanette’s influence and business savvy as a key factor in their decision. When they visited the city to look at locations, Surina invited them to her home. She cooked a traditional Hoosier meal of fried chicken and mashed potatoes! The company representatives later said other cities took them to Japanese restaurants during visits. They confided a love for American fare, and credited Surina for setting the table for good eating and comfortable negotiations. Surina and her staff believed in and worked to make Greenwood a City of Pride and Progress. Though she drove around town in a gold Mercedes, she was known to stop to pick up trash along a city street or stomp around muddy fields to make on-site decisions during sewer projects. Of course, she had her detractors – mostly fiscal conservatives on the city council who did not favor higher taxpayer investments. She knew how to bargain and gained enough favor to get her ambitious plans passed (usually on 4 to 3 votes). One council member who often fought her aggressive budgets once stated in the Daily Journal: “Greenwood is a runaway train, and Mayor Surina has her hand on the throttle.” Surina loved the quote and had it framed and displayed in her office as a badge of honor. Mayor Surina was unable to finish her second term – an aggressive cancer took her life in 1991 at age 70. Mayors who followed – Margaret McGovern, Charles Henderson and Mark Myers – often cite her drive and influence in their approach to the office. The Surina Way lives on today in the public-private culture that makes Greenwood one of Indiana’s great cities. We would like to thank Jeff Owen, Clever Dogs Media, Inc. for providing us with the information for Women's History Month.