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Stellar Advisory Committee Update - September


CITY OF CRAWFORDSVILLE

MAYOR’S STELLAR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

September 19, 2016

On Sept. 19 members of the Mayor’s Stellar Advisory Committee met for its monthly meeting. Mayor Todd Barton said he believes the City is still a little ahead of scheduled from where they thought they would be at this time and are ahead of where other Stellar communities have been at this stage of the game.

 

UPDATES ON MAJOR PROJECTS

POCKET PARK
Since the naming of the park  - Pike Place - Saturday, Aug. 6, design work has begun. Rundell Ernstberger, who was hired as the as the design consultant, has begun work on a concept design and has had two meetings with some community members to get input on the design, as well as working from the Wabash WDPD report. 

The next step will be to schedule a public meeting for later this month to once again gather the public input. There has to be a balance of what the public would like to see and what the City has to spend on this project. The current budget for the project is approximately $500,000.

 

The Mayor also noted that we are looking for ways to use the area even before it is complete. The area will be used on Sept. 24 as part of the All In Celebration. He also noted that the Bi-Centennial Celebration is scheduled to take place there on Oct. 13. Anyone who has a group or has ideas to use this property for a project is encouraged to contact the Mayor.

This project is a joint effort between the City of Crawfordsville, Montgomery County Community Foundation and Wabash College.

Ground-breaking is expected in the Spring of 2017 which would be right on schedule.


FUSION 54
This project continues to move forward while it is still in the acquisition phase. The appraisal process has now been completed and an offer has been made to the landowner. The City is waiting to hear back from that owner and Mayor Barton is hoping to be able to report progress on that at the next meeting. Once the city has the option in place we can move ahead with acquiring the funding to purchase the property. It is hoped that this property will be in the hands of the City by early 2017.

All of the environmental testing, soil boring, and survey work has also been completed.  The design process is continuing which is where construction management steps in with the first overall cost estimate. There have been some small delays as we work through a few design/cost issues but in general the project is still on schedule.

The income survey has been completed and the results were within the range that it needed to be to apply for the OCRA grant. That process will begin immediately by Amy Miller who is handling the grant work for this project. This was a big piece of the puzzle which was needed to secure the funding needed to complete this project.


DOWNTOWN TRAIL
Several meetings have taken place with INDOT regarding the Downtown Trail and those discussions have gone well. This will likely be the last project done because of its complexity and scope.

The Downtown Trail will be completed in two phases. Phase I will be beginning at the railroad tracks on South Grant and head north to Wabash, then east to Walnut Street then north to Main Street.  Trail consultant HWC has been waiting for INDOT to issue the Notice to Proceed which was granted on Aug. 5, so they are beginning their work to create concept drawings of the trail for our review.

While the project will be done in phases it is still hoped that both phases will be completed by the same consultant so the look will remain the same.

The presentation for Phase II was presented to INDOT on June 22. INDOT has indicated we should have their decision by the end of October.  If we receive the additional funds requested then the best case scenario would be to start the program by August of 2018. The worst case scenario would be it would start by mid to late 2020.

This project is being developed carefully as it is critical to the health and future of downtown commerce.  If done correctly, this will further enhance the Wabash and downtown Crawfordsville connection. The goal is for this Loop to resemble the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis in its impact on the businesses in the area.  There are a number of issues to be worked out including how to create the Loop without losing downtown parking spaces as well as revising the streetscape along Main Street.

 

BIG 4 TRAIL

There have been many discussions between the City of Crawfordsville, CSX and R.R. Donnelley. The discussions with CSX seem to be changing weekly as they are anxious to get the project started.

A new developer has been brought in to help get this moving forward. The developer has past experience working with CSX. A meeting to bring everyone to the table is expected soon.

The shift to try to fund this project using private funding sources is still on-going. A non-profit group will be created to help with funding this project as well as several other Park and Rec.  related projects such as a possible Dog Park. They would be used to help secure grants for the Big 4 Trail and other park/recreational projects in the future. The objective of this project is to tie the existing Sugar Creek Trail and Downtown trails to the site of the Fusion 54 building and to the Crawfordsville Middle School. 

One of the major pieces to making this happen is to get the CSX railroad in the area off-line. There have been some new people assume key roles with CSX and they appear to want to make this happen. Talks have been very positive with CSX officials as they want to move as quickly as possible on this.

The mayor is working with a development team to create a new intermodal site for LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelly) still serviced by CSX at on off-site location.


BEN HUR BUILDING

The transfer of the property into the hands of a private developer has been completed. 

Work on the exterior of the building has begun and new protective netting around the building is in place which allowed the barriers on the sidewalk to be removed for the first time in several years. In addition, the new owners have been doing extensive work on the roof of the building.

Some changes have taken place in the last month. A hotel operator has been secured by the owners of the building. It is now the idea of the hotel operator that there will not be a condo/hotel mix. It will be all hotel rooms – 62 in all.

The new operator will also have first choice at bringing in the restaurant/bar on the first floor. If they decide not to do this or can’t secure someone to run that it will be opened back up of a private party.

Another piece of good news is that the terra cotta is not in as bad of shape as originally thought.

A meeting between the contractors, owners and Wabash College also took place recently.  The developer is now considering layout options for the make up of the interior of the building.

 

HISTORIC WHITLOCK NEIGHBORHOOD

This, along with the Pocket Park, should be one of the first projects to have visible progress. There is a need to better inform and educate the residents in the area of this program to encourage them to sign-up.

There is still some disappointment as there have not been the response which had hoped for during the initial phase of the project despite several mailings, meetings, and door to door canvassing of both the original designated area as well as the expanded area. The eligibility area was extended from the original east border of Whitlock Ave to the intersection of Binford and Market Streets. Part of the problem is due to the fact many of the homes in that area are not owner occupied and thus are not available for the $25,000 worth of rehab per home. A total of $500,000 in grants is available. So far 10 local residents have shown interest in getting money to help do repairs and updates to their properties free of charge. Out of those only 3 have been fully qualified to receive benefits.  IHCDA would like for there to be enough qualified homes to use up the full grant before they release any funding. Many homeowners seem suspicious of these services being offered at no charge.

Steve Talbert and Community Action Program Inc. of Western Indiana are leading up this project.

 

KEEPING THE PUBLIC INFORMED
The Mayor announced that everyone can keep up-to-date on the Stellar projects in a couple of ways.

The first is on the City’s website (www.crawfordsville.net) where a button has been placed on the left side of the home page. It has the overall Stellar proposal and will be where residents can go for updated information as the City moves though the Stellar process.

In addition, there will be an update in the local newspapers every quarter. The Mayor said he will be supplying an update to the local media soon as he feels it is important to keep the public up-to-date. He said the response to his newspaper columns has been very positive.

Comprehensive Plan Update

City Planner Brandy Allen reported that the process is underway to update the Comprehensive Plan for the City.  The plan will take into consideration the Stellar projects and their anticipated effect on the downtown area and quality of place in the city as well as look at improvements in areas outside of the Stellar designated area.  Committee members should anticipate receiving an invitation to focus group meetings that will happen in the next few weeks, in addition to a public workshop.

Allen also informed the group that Crawfordsville had been selected to participate in My Vision/My Community program. Crawfordsville is one of five communities in the state to be awarded participation in this program.  In this program the City will team up with youth in the community (we will be teaming up with the Crawfordsville Sunshine Society) to be mentored by Ball State and to come up with a project in which the group will see through to fruition. The program gives the group $500 to help with the project. Allen said there might be a possibility of some other match money to boost that total so they might be able to do a little bigger project.

OTHER RELATED PROJECTS

The Mayor informed the group that the Old Hospital Project is complete and there are people moving in to the facility. There is still some landscaping and punch list activities taking place.

Recently a piece of property at the corner of Tinsley Avenue and Jones Street had been purchased by the owners of Historic Whitlock Apartments and the existing duplex has been taken down and a green space with possible a playground will be put in that place.

 

NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Stellar Advisory Committee will take place at 10 a.m. Oct. 17, 2016.