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Main Street Corydon eyes Chestnut Street, abandoned Keller site

Main Street Corydon eyes Chestnut Street, abandoned Keller site
Main Street Corydon eyes Chestnut Street, abandoned Keller site
Sean Hawkins, community development manager with the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, shows Bill Taylor of Regions Bank, suggested plans for East Chestnut Street in Corydon as part of a revitalization project. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Two back-to-back public hearings were held Monday afternoon in the Corydon Town Hall to give updates on two projects for which federal funds are sought.
Proposals for the Keller Manufacturing Demolition Project and the Chestnut Street Revitalization Project are due Friday, said Laura Dixon of River Hills Economic Development District & Regional Planning Commission, the agency that’s helping the town of Corydon and Main Street Corydon write the grants.
The Keller project, estimated at $550,000, will allow the demolition of all buildings at the old Keller Manufacturing plant.
Dixon said the two agencies had previously applied for the Community Development Block grant for this project but were unsuccessful in getting any of the $1 million set aside for block grants.
Sean Hawkins, community development manager with the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said safety is the ‘first and foremost’ reason for demolishing the buildings.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us’ to accomplish this if the grant is awarded for the project, he said. There is a 10-percent match required.
Corydon town council president Fred Cammack said the council’s biggest concern about the property, as it sits vacant, is the potential for fire.
The Chestnut Street project would complement a massive undertaking in the early 1990s that included the burying of utilities, sidewalk improvements, and the addition of benches and historic street posts on the town square.
Dixon said the grant being requested is through the rural affairs division of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
‘This grant benefits low to moderate income areas’ with slums or blight, she said. ‘It’s a very competitive process.’
The proposal for this grant is also due Friday.
Typically, about 120 proposals are submitted, followed by 85 actual applications, Dixon said, and only about 30 projects receive funding.
Hawkins said if funding is received for the revitalization project, similar work that was done around the square will be completed along Chestnut Street between Mulberry Street and Capitol Avenue.
Also to be addressed as part of the project will be the trees. Hawkins said the trees growing along Chestnut Street now have ‘large canopies that hide’ many of the businesses and whose roots are causing the sidewalks to buckle in some places.
‘We’re going for a consistent look in the (downtown) retail area,’ Hawkins said. ‘We certainly have some nice buildings on Chestnut … with good merchants.’
An exact dollar amount has yet to be determined for this project, but it will probably be in the $700,000 range and require a local match as high as $250,000.
Dixon said the grant cannot be used to pay for burying utility lines, but that expense will count at part of the match.
‘We hope to have (exact details of the project and dollar amount request) nailed down by the next public hearing,’ Dixon said.
A public hearing for both projects will be held in April, prior to the deadline for submitting the actual grants. Dixon said the announcements of the grant recipients will probably come in June.
Letters of support for both projects are being accepted at the town hall and will be attached to the grants for submission.
Hawkins thanked those who attended Monday’s hearings, which are ‘an important element of making these changes happen.
‘I just wish we could make them happen quicker,’ he said.

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