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Stellar Advisory Committee March Update


CITY OF CRAWFORDSVILLE
MAYOR’S STELLAR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
March 20, 2017

On March 20, members of the Mayor’s Stellar Advisory Committee met for its monthly meeting. Mayor Barton noted that the committee would continue to schedule meetings at 10 a.m. on the third Monday of each month at Chase Bank on the third floor.

UPDATES ON MAJOR PROJECTS

POCKET PARK
Work continues to progress with Pike Place Park. In the past few months, the design of the park by Rundell Ernstberger, the design consultant for the park, was presented. This project has a completed conceptual design that took into account information which had been shared during three meetings with the design team as well as a community input meeting held on Dec. 15. Approximately 40 people attended 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.

It was announced that Indiana American Water has made a $10,000 donation to help with the funding of the park and Tipmont has granted $10,000 for trees and plantings through their Enviro-Green program.  It is hoped that possibly some other donations will also be received to help with added items to the original design concept. The original plans call for there to be a basic “good Bones” park constructed with utilities and sufficient structure in place  for additional amenities to be added as funding becomes available.

With some changes to the Fusion 54 project there could be some funds originally earmarked for that project may be diverted into this project.

The overall process has slowed down a bit, as it is now being linked to the Fusion 54 project – at least in the fact that some of the money which was originally earmarked for that project is now going to be used for the Pike Park project.

Because the project will now be using federal money the process will be slowed down. This project was hoped to break ground this spring but will now be delayed. However, more of the things the public wanted to see at Pike Park should now be available with the extra money being diverted.

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


FUSION 54

A major change has been announced by Mayor Barton in February. The idea to build a new building has been replace with plans to purchase an existing building and remodel. According to the Mayor there were a number of reasons for this change. First, the cost of the proposed building came in much higher than anticipated. Secondly, because ORCA money was to be used it limited the scope of some of the tenants, which altered the purpose of the original concept of the Fusion 54 project. The Mayor felt the original concept was important and he did not want to vary from that.

City officials have looked at moving the Fusion 54 project into an existing building in the downtown area. This will still allow the concept for more forward and it is projected to be able to be done at about one third the cost of constructing the new building. An offer for an existing building has been made and we are awaiting the response from the owners.

The City still has an option for the Crawford property and intends to complete that purchase this spring.  The lot which was originally to be purchased for the Fusion 54 building will be turned into green space and a trail head for the Big 4 Trail. The OCRA money which was intended for this project can be used to help turn that lot into a parking area, green space, and trail head. It is hoped that any remaining funds can be diverted to the Pike Place Park.


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.

Jim Rice informed the committee that paver samples have bene ordered. He also stated that field studies would be completed in the second quarter of this year, environmental studies would be done in the third quarter of 2017 and overall plans should be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

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 finally 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 very 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

Mayor Barton said there has been some very positive meetings with CSX and now things are back to where the original plans were. While there have been some good meetings lately between the City of Crawfordsville, CSX and LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelly), still nothing has been set in stone.

The most recent development is that a possible site for off-site loading has been found. That site is the old Impex property located off of Louise Avenue. Should that agreement be reached then the path for the retiring of that CSX line can move forward.  The developer who has recently been brought in to coordinate a site and building design 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.

CSX is anxious to get the line retired. There is some questions as CSX has recently laid off more than 1,000 employees including the one who has been the city’s direct contact.

The shift to try to fund this trail 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. 


BEN HUR BUILDING

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

Some changes have taken place from 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.  The public should see some significant activity at this site this spring.

HISTORIC WHITLOCK NEIGHBORHOOD

The city is now collaborating with a new group on this project. That group is Administrative Resource associates who have been doing this type of work for nearly 30 years. They have also worked with other Stellar Committees with a great deal of success. This group will take a completely different approach and that has helped to regain some of the excitement about this piece of the project.

The eligibility area has been extended to now include the entire city with those in the original scope of the Stellar projects getting top priority. A scoring rubric has been created to give priority to living in the designated Stellar project area, followed by such factors as disability, single parent, senior citizen, and income.

A public meeting will take place at the Crawfordsville Library on March 8 for anyone with questions about this program. A total of 61 people were in attendance at the meeting. We have at least 10 actual applications at this time. It is believed that 22 to 23 houses can be rehabilitated at a cost of up to $20,000 per house. The total grant is up to $500,000.

 

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 that 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 would 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 under way to update the Comprehensive Plan for the City.  Allen said the City is now awaiting the final draft to come back and when it is received it will then be shared with the public for its input. 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

Allen also informed the group the first My Vision/My Community group has completed their draft. The group presented its plan in March in front of the other four communities in preparation for their presentation to the Lt. Governor in April. 

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. April 17, 2017.