Riverfront development work to begin within next few weeks
By Joseph Slacian | The Paper of Wabash County
Organizers of a new Wabash River development hope to begin work in a few weeks.
Jordan Tandy, a member of the committee seeking to put a new plaza along the Wabash River Trail, told the Wabash Park Board that the group hopes to be finished by Memorial Day weekend and that a formal dedication would take place during First Friday activities in June.
The Wabash Marketplace Inc.’s Design Committee received a $50,000 matching grant to create the new development along the Wabash River, just west of the Wabash Street bridge. To receive the grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency’s “CreatINg Places” program, the committee had to raise a matching $50,000. It did that before the Dec. 31 deadline.
Tandy said the organization has raised more than $83,000, combined with the $50,000 grant will give the project a budget of about $130,000.
Plaza areas are planned on both the north and south sides of the River Walk, he said.
“We’ve got a pavilion area on the north side of the River Walk, and a pergola and a deck that sort of overlooks the river, a fire pit, as well, for the first major part of the project,” Tandy said.
The second part of the project, he continued, involves the building now used to store various pieces of city equipment.
A water fountain is planned for the site, he continued. It is being designed by Schlemmer Brothers in conjunction with The Ford Meter Box Co., and will have several fountains for adults, as well as one at ground level for pets. It is designed to be removed during the winter to avoid freezing.
A bicycle rack, designed in the shape of an upside down light bulb, also will be placed at the site. Attached to it will be a metal bicycle sculpture that will be functional.
“So someone will be able to get on the bike and peddle it,” Tandy said, “and it will be hooked up electrically to the light bulb and will be able to illuminate it.”
Like the fountain, the bike rack is being designed by Schlemmer Brothers.
Wabash businessman Ben Gebhardt plans to open an outfitter store in the building.
“Ben’s got big plans,” Tandy said. “He’s talking about renting and selling canoes, kayaks and bicycles. He also would sell all the gear that goes with it.
“He’s also talking about selling lunch several days a week out of it. So we’re hoping that spurs other development along the river.”
The Wabash Board of Public Works and Safety approved a lease agreement with the group, and the city is currently reviewing a memorandum that details responsibilities at the site.
“We also have allocated $5,000 from our budget for a maintenance fund,” Tandy said. “My idea is that whenever repairs come up and something needs to be fixed, we first tap into that $5,000 before asking the city for money.”
As far as state permits, Tandy said, “I’ve talked with lots and lots of different agencies to make sure we’ve crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s.”
The Indiana Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Natural Resources have approved the plans. The group is still awaiting a design release from the state for the pavilion/shelter house.
Board President Jon Baker asked if the group would be doing anything with the wetlands in the area.
“It was made very clear to me that we’re to steer clear of the wetlands,” Tandy replied, also noting that plans call for avoiding the flood zone as well.