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Vast opportunities at Keller site

Some people may not have understood why the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau was accumulating quite a pot of money in its capital development fund, which comes from hotel taxes and casino boat revenue. Last week, we saw the reason. An opportunity presented itself.
When the Keller furniture company executives started talking last fall about abandoning the aged Corydon plant and moving operations to its New Salisbury plant, Bud Bennett, who lives nearby, started thinking about the possibilities of the 14.5-acre site next to Big Indian Creek.
It’s an old industrial site and will probably need environmental clean-up of one kind or another, but it’s prime property in a uniquely beautiful location, ripe for many kinds of development. Bennett, one of the leaders of Main Street Corydon for years, knew his group would have to act quickly if the site were to be kept in civic, non-profit hands. Bennett made a sizable down payment with his own money, and his board agreed to obtain the asking price, $300,000, from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Now the discussion can begin in earnest about what could be done with that property. Convert the all-steel pre-dryer building to a conference center that could accommodate several hundred people? Put in a hotel? Expand the ever-popular Corydon Jamboree and build a real parking lot? Build a performing arts center for Hayswood Theatre? Build an outdoor amphitheatre like the one at Brandenburg with the wooded Doolittle hill as a backdrop? Create a museum, office space, antique mall, flea market, artist and craft studios (think Zimmerman Art Glass) and restaurant in the old brick manufacturing building? Put up senior citizen apartments?
The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations. Of course, construction won’t happen this summer or next fall. There will be extensive discussions and brainstorming sessions, professional studies and site preparation ‘ no telling what has been stored, spilled, abandoned or buried there over the last century. But the dreaming and planning can begin, and you can be part of the crucial visioning process, if you want to, because there will be a great need for volunteers.
Main Street Corydon and the CVB want local, creative and expert input. In the near future, the framework will be designed for the volunteer citizen help that will be needed.
In the meantime, you can express your interest in the future of Corydon and, by extension, Harrison County by attending the public hearing for the Corydon downtown revitalization master plan. It will be presented April 27 at 4 p.m. at Town Hall.
Hope to see you there.