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July Stellar Update


CITY OF CRAWFORDSVILLE

MAYOR’S STELLAR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

July 18, 2016

On July 18 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
The big news for the Pocket Park is twofold – naming the park and the selection of on engineering consultant firm to work on the project.

The intensive naming campaign was conducted by Brooke Monts and Morgan Kincaid who are summer interns of the Montgomery County Community Foundation.  The campaign gave residents a chance to name the park using Facebook, local media, and drop boxes placed in downtown businesses. As of the time of the meeting more than 250 names had been submitted and the contest had just ended (it ended on July 16). More names were expected as not all of the boxes placed at local merchants had been collected. A group will now go through the suggested names to come up with the winning name.

The design proposals were presented on July 13 and the engineering consultant selected was Rundell Ernstberger Associates out of Indianapolis. The principal in charge of the project is Carl Kincaid who is a North Montgomery and Purdue University graduate. They are partnering with VS Engineering. Stan Hamilton is the local contact for VS.

The Mayor also noted that we are looking for ways to use the area even before it is complete. He noted that the Bi-Centennial Celebration is scheduled to take place there. 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 with the next step preparing an offer to purchase an option on the property.

All of the environmental testing, soil boring, and survey work has also been completed.  A time table has been developed and the critical deadlines have been laid out. As of now the project is still actually ahead of schedule and could be done as much as three months earlier than originally anticipated.

The Mayor said this is a very tricky process because of the different funding sources involved. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts and everything has to be done just right. It is hoped that in the near future there will be a report of more progress toward the signing of a purchase agreement. It is hoped that this property will be in the hands of the City by early 2017.

In the meantime, more meetings have taken place with all those involved as the groups begins to narrow down some of the finer points of the overall design. Meetings have also been held with the different entities who will occupy the building. While each have their own ideas, meetings such as this help to mold those ideas into one concept and to help strike a balance among those who will be in the building as well as making sure the project stays within the budget.

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 request for proposals for the designer on Phase I went out in May and HWC was awarded that bid.  The contract to hire HWC has been sent to INDOT for their approval.  That contract which was passed by the Crawfordsville Board of Works and Safety, was sent to INDOT for their review on May 26. As of July 18, INDOT has not notified the City as to approval or denial of this contract.

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. Director of Operations Dale Petrie likened this process as the government’s version of the Shark Tank. We are hoping to hear something back about their decision by the end of August.

It is hoped INDOT will make the awards by late August and at that point we will know if we qualified for additional money to enhance the project.  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.

The shift to try to fund this project using private funding sources is still on-going. These discussions have led to the possibility of a Park Support Foundation being formed. This group would be a non-profit group which would be created to help with this project as well as several others such as a possible Dog Park. They would be used to help possibly secure grants for this project 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.

Also RR Donnelley has narrowed its choice to where it would like to off-load since the railroad would not go all the way to the plant.

 


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.

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.

Project Manager Jim Rice said this was an area of some disappointment as they have not gotten the response they had hoped for during the initial phase of the project. Part of that 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 are 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 seven only two have actually filled out the application and have qualified.  The eligibility area has been extended from the original east border of Whitlock Ave to the intersection of Binford and Market Streets.

It is hoped that with an extended area and another round of door-to-door canvassing at different times of the day will help get this information into the hands of those who can use it. It is hoped that maybe this will help get neighbors talking to one another and more people will come forward and sign up. This is available to owner-occupied homes with some income based qualifications.

Randy Burnette 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.

 

INCOME SURVEY COMPLETE AND SHOWS NEED MET

As mentioned before City Planner Brandy Allen said the survey was complete. In order to qualify the City needed 51 percent of the returns to meet the state’s medium to low income requirements. The final tally for Crawfordsville was 51.45 percent.

With the survey now complete the entire Fusion 54 project can move forward.

This survey helped define the amount of low to moderate income households we have in the city.

OTHER RELATES PROJECTS

The Mayor informed the group that the Old Hospital Project is expected to be complete very soon. The interior and exterior work is in its final stages. Rental of these apartments is in process and an open house is being planned.

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. Aug. 15.