Next phase of Stellar Grant projects to focus on downtown Greencastle


Members of both the DePauw and Greencastle communities gathered in city hall Wednesday night to hear Mayor Sue Murray speak about updates on the Stellar grant community projects.
DePauw has reaped multiple benefits from the Stellar grant, including the building of Starbucks and the new bookstore, as well as the reconstruction of the Anderson street entrance. The next phase of action will focus on improving downtown Greencastle.
The overarching goal, with various projects that have ranged from moving the university bookstore downtown to road reconstruction and adding streetscapes, is to make Greencastle "the next great college town" by making the downtown area a dining and commerce center for the city and college alike.
Murray noted the need to make stronger connections between the university and the city, especially because Murray estimates that DePauw brings about 60,000 people to Greencastle a year.
The first phase of the grant projects was the relocation of the bookstore and the renovations on Anderson Street.
"It's proven to be a very successful move," Murray said of the relocation of the bookstore.
While the first phase of the projects seemed to be university focused, the next phase of the projects is centered on downtown Greencastle. The first of these projects will occur over the summer.
"You're going to be seeing sidewalk construction and traditional streetscaping on Washington Street from Vine Street to the traffic light at Bloomington Street," Murray said.
The construction will widen the sidewalks, create better drainage and add lighting that will match lighting that has already been placed downtown.
In 2014, reconstruction of Indiana Street between Washington Street and Seminary Street will begin in order to fix the approximately seven inch pitch in the road.
"We're actually going to widen the sidewalks from Washington Street to the alley that's there," Murray said.
The goal is to create enough space on the sidewalks along Indiana Street near Starbucks and Downtown Café for these two businesses to have outdoor seating. However, the downfall of widening the sidewalk is the loss of parking spaces in an area.
According to Murray, a solution would be to build a parking structure near the square. The city went before the board of Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority on April 25 with the hopes of having them release funds for the parking structure.
If the structure is built, all parking in city lots will be free and parking on the square can be limited to two hours in an effort to accommodate those who visit the square for shopping or dining.
In 2015, Vine Street from Washington Street to Seminary Street will be reconstructed as well.
Additionally, the development of a new health clinic to combine the work of the Johnson Nichols Clinic and DePauw's Wellness Center are in the planning stages. Murray hopes that this new health clinic will also include occupational medicine.
"If anybody gets hurt [now], we're sending them to Terre Haute or Danville," Murray said.
The university has been working alongside the city to make sure that the needs they have within the new health clinic are met.
"We're starting to do research alongside them as well to make sure that we make a thoughtful decision there," Audra Blasdel, director of auxiliary services and community relations, said.
Adam Cohen, men's swim coach at DePauw and President of Greencastle Common Council noted something unique about how Greencastle has handled the money and work from the Stellar Grant.
"Stellar has not stopped Greencastle from being Greencastle," Cohen said.
Cohen also expressed the need for Greencastle to work alongside the rest of Putnam County as a whole in order to meet countywide needs like reopening the humane society and the Away Home Shelter.
"We have a lot of things that need to happen," Murray said.
Blasdel tries to keep this prospect in mind by posting a saying on her office's dry erase board.
"Stellar is not the answer," Blasdel's white board reads. "It is merely posing the question of what we will do next."