Greencastle named one of state's first 'Stellar Communities'

Monday, March 7, 2011

More than $30 million to be invested in the cities over three years

INDIANAPOLIS -- Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced Monday that Greencastle and North Vernon will be the pilot communities for the new multi-year, multi-million-dollar Stellar Communities program.

Stellar Communities is a first of its kind collaboration initiated by Lt. Governor Skillman between INDOT, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency, and the State Revolving Fund to help fund communities' strategic plans.

"It's important for governments to stretch every dollar as far as possible. Stellar Communities has taught us to be intentional and strategic in the way we deliver grant funding to local governments," Lt. Governor Skillman said. "It will help our agencies collaborate more, be more efficient, and make a bigger impact with the dollars we have."

State agencies will invest an estimated $31 million in the two communities over three years. The cities of Greencastle and North Vernon will invest an additional $9 million in local and private funds.

Forty-two communities submitted proposals to become a pilot community. After scoring the plans, the top 12 communities were asked to submit more details, and site visits were conducted by staff from each agency. Lt. Governor Skillman intends to continue Stellar Communities next year, and cities that did not win this year may re-apply for future rounds.

Lt. Governor Skillman will travel to Greencastle for a celebration ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Its plan will revitalize the downtown area; link the city more closely with DePauw University; and improve the quality of life through new initiatives in health, the arts, and technology.

"Stellar Communities will allow us to improve our city in ways that wouldn't otherwise be possible," Greencastle Mayor Susan Murray said. "With this help, we will create the next great college town in Indiana."

North Vernon, the only city between Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and Interstate 65, will use their funds to become an economic hub for the defense industry. Planned improvements include a new event center, a pedestrian plaza, improvements to the Irish Hill neighborhood, and creating more commercial opportunities on Main Street. Lt. Governor Skillman will hold a celebration in North Vernon on Friday.

"Our region is not able to take full advantage of Muscatatuck without a vibrant North Vernon," Mayor Harold "Soup" Campbell said. "Without Stellar Communities, we would certainly lose out on millions of dollars of economic activity."

Funding for the initiatives comes from multiple existing federal funds. State agencies will continue to offer grant programs to local units of government not participating in Stellar Communities.

Details on the community celebrations will be announced later this week.

Greencastle Fact Sheet

Greencastle has proposed quality of life improvements which integrate the cultural and intellectual assets of their city and position the city as a regional center for economic development.

Main Goals

* Revitalize courthouse square and central business district

* Improve streetscapes and offer parking solutions

* Improve facades while preserving historical integrity of buildings

* Wayfinding program to support community visitors

* Resolve potential environmental concerns in commercial district

* Create a pedestrian friendly residential neighborhood

* Enhance housing options -- second story loft housing in commercial district and new construction in South Court neighborhood

* Improve local quality of life

* Community health initiatives including new community health center and new trail linking community to recreational area

* Partnership with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

* Technology hub/Wi-fi bubble in commercial district

North Vernon Fact Sheet

Improvements proposed by North Vernon will continue their efforts to create an economic hub for the defense sector, which gives new opportunities and improves quality of life for local residents, as well as making the community more strategically placed for business and residential attraction.

Main Goals

* Arvin Redevelopment site -- 3.5 Acre Brownfield site, clearing the way for private investment

* Carnegie Library Restoration

* Depot Events Center Renovation

* Project will convert historic train depot into social center for community events

* Downtown Streetscapes

* New sidewalks, curbs, landscaping, lighting, signage, and wayfinding

* Irish Hill Revitalization

* Historic Uptown Streetscape improvements near Irish Hill neighborhood

* Creation of 17 properties to serve low- to moderate-income residents

* Short Street Plaza

* Close Short Street to construct pedestrian-friendly plaza space

* Main Street Development -- mixed use for both commercial and residential

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  • Great Job everyone!! Lets keep moving forward!!!

    -- Posted by macvrod on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 4:26 PM


    -- Posted by greatful mom on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 4:41 PM
  • This is HUGE for Greencastle. Great Job!

    -- Posted by Old Soul on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 5:29 PM
  • This will be the best thing to happen to this town since IBM.

    -- Posted by anonymous101 on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 5:49 PM
  • Holy crap this is great!

    -- Posted by goatman on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 7:59 PM
  • woohoo go G-castle!!

    -- Posted by cds1305 on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 10:25 PM
  • This is wonderful. Yeah right. The only way this is going to be a Steller Community is if the old lets go and lets the new in. There is a banner just before you get to the square on 231 that says Buy Local, Invest Local. That would be great if there were business besides Wal-Mart, The Putnam Inn and The Double Decker to buy and invest in. Where is Applebee's. I believe the city counsel axed their request to move in several years ago. How many people go elsewhere to spend their hard earned cash on the weekends? I dare say at least 50% or more with a driver's license go to Plainfield, Avon, Terra Haute, Bloomington and Indianapolis at any given weekend to eat, shop or go to a movie. Not to mention the gas prices? Thats another subject. Come on Mrs. Mayor and City Counsel. If you want this to be a Steller Community...invest in REAL businesses.

    -- Posted by Jahaya56 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 12:37 AM
  • Jahaya55, this is an amazing opportunity fot Greencastle. Why do you have to be such a downer Debby? Jeesh. If you can't say anything positive then don't say anything. Alot of people worked really hard on this project. What have you done?

    -- Posted by townielove on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 1:00 AM
  • This is a way to fix the problem from its source, and that is what your city council and mayor have recognized and are trying to do.

    By investing this kind of money into the infrastructure of Greencastle, it could increase property values (and your taxes, so go ahead and *****)--and also make the community more inviting to business and higher-income families. By doing this, tax revenues may increase and allow for better schools, roads, and overall quality of life in Greencastle.

    What that leads to is a demographic that is more inviting to businesses to invest in and create economic growth in Greencastle (a foreign concept these days).

    After all, nothing else that has been tried since IBM left has worked, and tons of money has been wasted trying. This gives the town an opportunity to invest in a new direction to spark growth in a decaying community.

    -- Posted by anonymous101 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 1:29 AM
  • Not to mention, this is the way a government should be investing money. Good infrastructure brings good business, whereas investing in a business (tax breaks, land discounts, etc) only brings a business that has been chosen by government officials. Said business may close and leave within 5 years or less and there is always the corruption aspect--which I will leave aside. At least with infrastructure, the money is still spent on things that the general public will see tangible benefits from for years down the road.

    -- Posted by anonymous101 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 1:39 AM
  • Government, city, state, or federal, can't invest in a business. They (we, really) can only provide the infrastructure and environment that the business requires. That's what this grant will facilitate.

    Instead of wishing for an Appleby's you might try Chief's, Almost Home, Martinez, The Dixie Chopper Restaurant, Mama Nunz, Topper's, Humble Pie, Monical's, etc..........

    These are local establishments that keep your dollars within the community. Get involved with the Sustainability group, the farmer's market. We can see the effects of the Buy Local campaign through these connections.

    Congratulations, Greencastle. This is GREAT news. I'm proud of our city government and all of the others who made this happen.

    -- Posted by Citizen Crane on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 8:38 AM
  • " the city more closely with DePauw University."

    The only words that mattered in the whole article. This isn't about growth, its a roundabout way of promoting Depauw under the guise of revitalizing an already dead downtown Greencastle. Most everything listed will only benefit the area directly around the square, and therefore, the campus.

    -- Posted by stranded67 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 9:32 AM
  • To the absentee owners of buildings around the square and the central business district -- well, you have finally got your way after not maintaining your buildings for years and letting the area look like a bombed-out shelter -- someone else will be picking up the tab for your building improvements and maintenance. Great job, not!

    -- Posted by Lookout on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 9:47 AM
  • Yes, Citizen Crane, i agree. People in our community and all over basically control and dictate what happens in our communities with their purchasing power. If someone wants to spend $20 in gas and drive to plainfield, to save $5 on their purchase, that ends up hurting us locally. If people continually go to fast food restaurants to 'save money' instead of frequenting local establishments that tend to use more 'real food', then that's all we're going to end up with, is a bunch of junkie food places that offer little or no nutritive value.

    And then there are the people that sit around and do nothing to improve their community, but love to complain that its not all perfect for them.

    The applebee's comments that come through these posts just floor me. why would we want another chain restaurant in this town that makes people fatter and clogs their arteries more.

    I do hope the people in charge of allocating this money to projects do a good job of managing it. and I hope they audit their books regularly so we don't see a picture of some chic on the front page of the banner that's going to jail for stealing it.

    -- Posted by just a local on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 10:17 AM
  • I am inspired by the folks in our community who cared enough to put in the hard work needed to get this grant. Congratulations to them and us all!

    -- Posted by localmom44 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 11:12 AM
  • Lookout, maybe you should move, how about Lookout Mt. TN...

    With this will come add'l tax revenue I am sure. Along with that new revenue maybe we can have some of the recreation like Plainfield.

    But more importantly just maybe home values will go up along with some of the demographics will change, and maybe just maybe we will keep some of those good paying jobs to live here and spend.

    By the way you can get your 2 for $20 dinner at the Airport, and if you haven't tried their fried green beens as an appetizer, you are missing out. It comes with their special 2 for. Check them and other restraunts out here in Greencastle & Putnam County. These owners spend locally, I believe!

    -- Posted by macvrod on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 12:17 PM
  • Huge thanks to Mayor Sue Murray and her team and congrats to all in our wonderful town. This is indeed an extraordinary accomplishment and a great, great development for Greencastle.

    @Citizen Crane..thanks for your comments. Good explanation of the "buy local" concept.

    -- Posted by louisvilleslugger on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 2:04 PM
  • Anything that can be done to improve the appearance and potential draw of the city is welcome.

    There is not one attractive roadway entrance into the city.The downtown area looks like the buzz bomb exploded.

    Used wisely, this money could go a long way.

    Otherwise, it's simply lipstick on a pig.

    -- Posted by ProblemTransmission on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 2:25 PM
  • Mr. or Ms. Lookout,

    A building built in the 19th century is expensive to maintain. Then when retail shopping moves to the "big box" store, the rental income drops. Therefore, no money to maintain the downtown. No, I don't expect you to drive to the downtown and buy your groceries, socks and underwear. I know that a small shop can't compete with "Big Box".

    However, specialty shops, bakery / coffee shops, restaurants, and offices to provide financial and legal services to our county citizens can survive and thrive downtown. The addition of funding to convert empty second and third floors to loft apartments will bring downtown residents to use these shops and services.

    Here's a challenge: Building owners, take advantage of this opportunity to improve your assets. Create great living spaces to attract good quality tenants. Try to utilize street level space for retail tenants. Invest a little now to improve our downtown. Route 231 in our downtown is a slight negative in ou restoration efforts. Rt 36 through Danville and Rt 40 through Plainfield haven't stopped them from making their downtowns attractive. Let's not be negative. Be positive and get involved with this great program. and.... SHOP LOCAL!

    -- Posted by Citizen Crane on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 5:25 PM
  • Wondering who to thank and give the credit for the grant? Just the mayor and her team? Our Economic Development Director? At any rate, it is a huge coup for the 'castle. Congrats!

    -- Posted by letspulltogether on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 4:07 PM
  • So tired of the complaining...this is huge for Greencastle. So what if Depauw is so closely linked with this extraordinary opportunity? if it weren't for Depauw, Greencastle would be just another "po-dunk" hillbilly, Indiana town. Lighten up and be happy for this opportunity!

    -- Posted by sarah on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 2:17 PM
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