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Bicentennial Park to be great addition

My Opinion
Alan Stewart, Staff Writer

It’s hard ‘ really hard ‘ not to notice what’s been happening in downtown Corydon lately.
Take a walk around the historic district, and things are changing at break-neck pace. Buildings that had for years gone neglected are getting fresh coats of paint, new awnings and updated facades. There are multiple food options. New trees have been planted on the square, which also has improved lighting for evening strolls.
Everywhere you look, there is change, and it’s for the better.
After a vote during a meeting of the Corydon Town Council on Monday, yet another change is coming to Corydon.
The Harrison County Community Foundation pledged $200,000 Monday toward the Bicentennial Park project, which is to be located between Chestnut and Poplar streets in Corydon. But, it would only push ahead with the grant if the Town of Corydon would pledge $300,000 to the $965,000 project.
I’ve covered Corydon Town Council meetings for close to a decade. The modus operandi ‘ especially on a financial monster ‘ is to view, hear and table. Certainly with well over a quarter of a million dollars at stake, the council wouldn’t be faulted for taking some time to consider the matter and vote at its next meeting on Dec. 28.
But that didn’t happen.
In a matter of two minutes, a couple of questions were asked and answered and a motion was made and seconded to pledge the money.
Then, Sean Davis, who chairs the community involvement committee with Hometown Collaboration Initiative in Corydon, looked at Eva Bates North, who was holding an artist’s rendering of the park, and put a hand on her shoulder as if to steady himself and ask, ‘Is this really happening?’
Yes, with a 5-0 vote that was followed with whooping and hollering, the Bicentennial Park will happen.
There are plenty of things to iron out, such as whether or not there should be parking lot access off of Chestnut Street, if there should be a splash pad or some other type of water feature, if there should be public rest rooms on site, if there should be free public Wi-Fi Internet access (no one mentioned that; consider it my contribution of a suggestion) and several other items.
There’s no question downtown is geared toward tourists, from an upcoming county museum to the state historic site to a variety of quaint shops. And that’s fine.
But tourists are here at a far lesser percentage than county residents are, and, without a really good reason to come downtown, well, the locals won’t.
Every community needs a great public park or green space, and Bicentennial Park would accomplish both, with places to sit and relax while eating ice cream, listening to someone strum a guitar, watching children play on a splash pad or getting in some reading after checking out a book at the Harrison County Public Library that is a block away.
The possibilities and positives seem endless, and the negatives appear to be few.
No businesses will be displaced. There’s nothing to get washed away when ‘ not if ‘ Little Indian Creek swells beyond its banks (affecting only the lawn, a small gazebo and parking lot). Though the spots will be a few extra steps away, there will still be ample parking for businesses along Chestnut Street.
The best part of the project, so far, is that it has been a community endeavor and will be paid for, in large part, through community members, including the Harrison County Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, the O’Bannon Foundation, an anonymous donor, HCI and the Corydon Capital Preservation Alliance.
And, soon, you’ll be able to help, too, by purchasing bricks and pavers that will certainly be incorporated in the final design.
With its proximity to the downtown business district and historic square, I predict people will feel an incredible sense of pride and investment in Bicentennial Park. They’ll use it, they’ll love it, they’ll protect it, they’ll keep it clean and they’ll view it not just as a park in Corydon, but as a shining example of what a community can do when everyone shares a common vision and pulls the rope in the same direction.