Roachdale revitalization gets residents' attention

Friday, August 17, 2012

ROACHDALE -- Close to 30 members of the Roachdale community gathered at the town council meeting on Tuesday, looking for information not about the council's actions, but about the future.

Joe Buser, a former resident of the town, gave a passionate speech about the Roachdale Revitalization Committee, his goals for returning commerce and residents to the town and how Purdue University has offered to help.

"The last several years, I've been concerned about my hometown, Roachdale," Buser said. "We're on the beginning of a great journey here."

In August 2011, Buser, brainstorming, wrote a proposal that describes his vision for Roachdale. He wrote:

"As members of the Committee of Roachdale Revitalization, we are committed to providing our citizens: a) the opportunity for new jobs, b) a fresh way of thinking, and c) an opportunity for a better life."

The proposal found the right people at Purdue and engineering graduate student Justin Richter signed on to work on the project for the next four years while he completes his PhD.

Richter also has experience in entrepreneurship and team building -- subjects that will be key to this project.

"We want to bring these small, rural communities back to vibrant life again," Richter said. "I think the first year is going to be planning and then the second year is construction and development. Then we'll go from there."

At the meeting, Buser asked the council how much support they would give to the project, and if he was free to pursue grants and other subjects.

Council members were very receptive to the ideas.

Town attorney Dave Peebles said the RRC must be conscious of the grants for which they apply -- some are available to non-profit organizations and some to towns.

Richter said he is excited to start knocking doors in town, meeting Roachdale residents and seeing what they from their town.

Having grown up in Chicago, Richter said attending Purdue has given him an appreciation for small-town Indiana and the people who live here.

Although specific changes to Roachdale are yet unknown, one of the primary focuses would be to make the town a sustainable community, what Buser calls an "eco-village."

The idea is to create a community that minimizes environmental impact and provides conveniences and amenities to the residents.

Richter suggested this could be done by incorporating solar, wind and other renewable sources to create "cyclical energy." This would reduce wasted heat and electricity.

Roachdale would offer grocery stores that sold food grown locally and offer new employment opportunities, such as an environmentally friendly microbrewery or golf course.

Residents who attended the meeting expressed excitement for changes coming to their town, saying that the younger generation has lost touch with the proud and thriving community that Roachdale once was.

Each council member seemed willing to use the town to partner with the project.

Although no changes are imminent, the people in Roachdale are anticipating great things to happen.

"I'm looking forward to it," council member Barbara Scott said. "I can't wait to see it."

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