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Corydon adopts revitalization plan

With the cautions that ‘no plan is perfect,’ ‘not all will agree with everything,’ and ‘adoption doesn’t mean you have to open up your checkbook,’ Sean Hawkins, a community development expert, encouraged the Corydon Town Council last week to officially adopt the 70-page Corydon Downtown Revitalization Plan. It had been prepared over the past year by the project consultant team of DLZ Indiana LLC of Indianapolis, SDG (Strategic Development Group) of Bloomington, and The Planning Workshop of Indianapolis.
After some discussion and noting a few typographical errors that needed to be corrected, the board unanimously adopted the $49,870 detailed study by unanimous vote Nov. 8 at Town Hall.
Hawkins is community development manager for the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said the report includes the ideas and recommendations of the consultants, members of the CVB, Main Street Corydon, the town council and ‘about 100 people’ who filled out questionnaires and attended informational meetings the consultants held last spring at the Harrison County Public Library.
Hawkins said there are three projects that he’d like to start working on right away:
‘ Improvements on Chestnut Street that would include ‘traffic calming elements,’ colorful banners for various events designed by commercial photographer Bob Davis, and putting utility lines underground.
‘ New custom-designed gateway signs for the main entrances to town on state roads 135 and 62. This would include improving the sign on the north entrance near Shireman Produce market, making it bigger and similar in concept to the others.
‘ The CVB has money budgeted for 2005 for the design and creation of new and impressive ‘wayfinding’ signs in Corydon and directional signs in town.
‘We’ll make it much easier to find Corydon and what to do once they get here.’ he said.
All the gateway and wayfinding signs would match in concept, Hawkins said.
The board was interested in the idea of dramatic street improvements on Chestnut as well as Beaver Street, which would make the entrance to the Frederick P. Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy and Corydon Town Hall more attractive. Caesars riverboat revenue and Transportation Enhancement funds can be pursued as two sources to pay for improvements, Hawkins said.
He noted a Sept. 20, 1995, story on Main Street Corydon from The Corydon Democrat that mentioned many improvements in downtown Corydon that led to increased business and tourism, but the town’s ‘master plan’ was never adopted. Now is the time to step up to the plate and get started again, he said.
He said the new revitalization plan provides a basis for an opportunity to build on the character of Corydon that makes it attractive, a fun place to visit and a nice place to live.
He said there are 15 retail shops in downtown Corydon. In addition, six to eight spots could be remodeled and opened for prime retail space if the owners wish.
‘It all sounds good,’ said town council president Fred Cammack, ‘but we need a better handle on the costs and the time frame.’
In other business, the town council:
* Hired the River Hills Economic Development District to be grant administrator for the Keller Furniture site redevelopment project. Having River Hills as grant administrator (to do the considerable amount of technical paperwork) ‘takes the headaches away from the town or Main Street Corydon,’ said Hawkins.
* Gave Cammack the authority to sign a contract with the Estopinol Group of Jeffersonville so it can get started on the $49,870 redevelopment study which would include removing asbestos and unwanted old buildings on the former wood furniture manufacturing plant site in town.
* Followed up on recommendations by the town planning and zoning commission and approved a change in zoning from R1 to R2 for a second residence on the Jeffrey D. and Carla Thomas residence at 516 E. Chestnut St.
* Approved a change from R1 to R3 for the Michael and Lisa Watt residence at 514 Wyandotte Ave. for duplex rental properties.
* Made some minor changes in the 1998 flood ordinance, as recommended by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources as well as the local zoning board.
Hawkins said Christmas lights are now going up on the town square. Twenty-five to 30 members of the Indiana University Southeast Red Edition Dancers have been hired to string the lights on the trees in the square this year. They are doing it as a fund-raiser for $6,000 as opposed to $10,000 that Main Street Corydon, the town and the business community would have had to pay otherwise this year. The dancers obtained help from a company that donated the use of its bucket trucks.
Light Up Corydon will be held at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27. Santa Claus is expected to arrive at 6:30.