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November Stellar Advisory Committee Summary


CITY OF CRAWFORDSVILLE

MAYOR’S STELLAR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Nov. 21, 2016

On Nov. 21st 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 schedule from where they thought they would be at this time and are ahead of pace compared to other communities.

 

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. 

There have been meetings with the design team. There has to be a balance of what the public would like to see and what the project budget will support. The plans have been adjusted to some degree as the cost for the original ideas came back considerably over budget. The idea is to create the bare bones which should come in at or under budget and then add to it if needed in the future.  It is hoped all the details will be worked out by December and that the ground-breaking will take place in the Spring of 2017 which would be on schedule.

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


FUSION 54
In the past month this may have been the piece which has seen the most work done.

This project continues to move forward and the City now has an option for the property.  This is vital to the entire OCRA grant process and by having the option on the property the acquisition and grant processes can continue. It is hoped that the OCRA grant will be filed in December.  It is hoped that this property will be in the hands of the City by early 2017 and construction bids might be accepted in February or March.

Preliminary ideas for the building were shared at the meeting. Some changes have had to be made to keep the project on or near budget. Original plans called for the building to be a steel structure but that has been changed to a wooden structure due to costs. It will still be a 20,000 square foot building. Other minor changes to the inside have been made as well.

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

The Phase I part of the project is moving forward and a presentation on the look of the project was made by Catherine Puckett at the October SAC meeting. There are a lot of details to be worked out but it is taking shape. The Mayor also said that they have met with all the property owners along the way and they all seem to be onboard.

Phil Goode of Crawfordsville Electric and Light said they would be providing lighting for part of the trail. This will save on some of the cost of the project which would have been used for that lighting.

Jim Rice also said that the impact of the trial when completed will be a huge boost to the downtown area as it will once and for all be tied to Wabash College.

Phase I is in the conceptual phase and getting ready to enter in to the technical phase in 2017.  The bidding and actual construction is still being scheduled to begin in 2018.

 

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.

Phase II part of the project was not funded by INDOT during their latest call for projects. Jim Rice of HWC said that was not all that surprising as the City has four open INDOT projects as of now. Once one or two of those are completed he feels confident the Phase II part of the project will be funded and he sees no reason it wouldn’t be.

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. While there have been several meetings, still nothing has been set in stone.

A new developer who has recently been brought in to help get this moving forward has done a good job of moving this project 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 Recreation 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 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 completed 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.

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

There will not be a lot of work seen to the general public here until next spring, but the planning and design phase is on-going.

 

HISTORIC WHITLOCK NEIGHBORHOOD

As has been mentioned in the past few months 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 three 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. CAPWI is moving forward with renovations to three of the qualified homes using other OOR funding they had in place.

The Mayor is still confident that this piece of the project will get off the ground at some point. The City took a proposal to the Oct. 26 Board of Works meeting asking that the sidewalks in that area be replaced and possibly that might help to spur on some interest. However, that hit a snag when no bids were received. Contractors were concerned about the tearing out the sidewalks and what impact that would have with the existing retaining walls. This issue is still being discussed.

Steve Talbert and Community Action Program Inc. of Western Indiana are leading 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. Recently added is a quarterly report which the City does when it meets with all the state agencies involved. This includes a timetable and some updated plans on some of the projects.

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 was not at the meeting, but the Mayor reported that the process is under way 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

Brandy Allen informed the group the first My Vision/My Community group met in Muncie. The group of high school students are starting to work on their draft. She said they seem to be concentrating on the Milligan Park area.

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 turned into a playground for that area.

 

NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Stellar Advisory Committee will take place at 10 a.m. Dec 19, 2016.