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Stellar Advisory Committee December Update


CITY OF CRAWFORDSVILLE

MAYOR’S STELLAR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Dec. 19, 2016

 

On December 19th members of the Mayor’s Stellar Advisory Committee met for its monthly meeting. Mayor Todd Barton opened the meeting by noting that the committee has now been meeting faithfully for over a year and how much that has meant to the program.  As everyone now is familiar with the make-up of the committee he dispensed with the usual introductions to start the meeting.

Mayor Barton noted that the committee would continue to schedule meetings on the 3rd Monday of each month at 10:00 with the location still to be at Chase Bank on the 3rd floor.  He advised that the first two meetings of the year would be moved to Tuesdays (January 17 and February 21) due to National holidays of Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day respectively.

UPDATES ON MAJOR PROJECTS

POCKET PARK
Rundell Ernstberger, the design consultant for the park has completed the conceptual design and has had three  meetings with the design team and a community input meeting held on Dec. 15.  There were 40 people in attendance at the public meeting and the project was generally well received.  The public was introduced to the concept of Crowd-Granting, and IHCDA developed program that matches locally raised funding for specific projects.  The hope is that amenities can be added to the park using this type of funding. 

With the design set they final detailed plans can be completed by late January, for a February bid letting.  That would allow the park to begin construction in April and complete as scheduled in September 2017.

Dale Petrie presented a slide show explaining the various design phases that the design team had worked through to bring the development to this point.  Starting with a $1.8 million dollar design, the presentation removed features one by one to bring the park back to the $500,000 budget.  The critical issues for the design team were to create a park that would  immediately satisfy the public expectations as well as have a solid foundation to uild on for future enhancements.

 

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 activity, at least behind the scenes.

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. The OCRA grant will be filed in December and should be approved in early January.  The building plans continue to move forward and should be at the 50% completion point by the end of December.  Once the grant is approved the city can move forward with closing on the property.  Construction bids should be accepted in March with an anticipated groundbreaking in April.  Occupancy will be in January of 2018 if construction stays on schedule.


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 completed because of its complexity and scope.

The Downtown Trail has been separated into 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 2019.

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 has done a good job of moving this project forward. The developer has past experience working with CSX. Meetings and conversations with CSX continue weekly.

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. 

Some changes have taken place fro the original Stellar concept. 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. 

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.  The important piece for 2016

was to complete the exterior repairs to the building and that has been accomplished.

 

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.

 

The Mayor is still confident that this piece of the project will get off the ground at some point. The city is considering a now partner for the project and has meetings scheduled for January of 2017 to put that in place.

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 committee with updates on the new fire station, the Walmart road situation, and the Concord Road project. 

NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Stellar Advisory Committee will take place at 10 a.m. January 17,  2017.