A committee involved in establishing a pool in Brownstown in the 1960s came up with the slogan “Now, it’s our turn.”
The committee members had lived in and enjoyed the town for a number of years because people in the past had worked hard to make it a good place to live. They felt it was their turn to do the same thing for future town residents.
Mike Tormoehlen, a longtime contractor who grew up in Brownstown and was involved in the pool project, has that same mindset while volunteering his time to help establish Heritage Park in the green space across the street from the Jackson County Courthouse.
On Monday, Tormoehlen participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the park’s pavilion along with members of the park committee, town council and Brownstown/Ewing Main Street.
He said that was a proud moment.
“I grew up in this town, and my family and other people have made life good for me, so it’s my turn to do it for them,” said Tormoehlen, who now lives in Indianapolis.
Park committee members Joe Reynolds and Mary Sue Spurgeon also were happy to be involved in the groundbreaking.
“It’s exciting to see it materialize,” said Reynolds, who was born and raised in Brownstown and moved back there after his retirement several years ago.
“I’m just thrilled to death,” Spurgeon said. “I could just picture it being used in so many different ways and lots of people. I’m excited about it.”
A crew planned to dig footings for the 40-foot-by-40-foot brick and concrete foundation of the pavilion Monday, but rainy weather this past weekend moved that to next week.
Americana Building Products of Salem, Illinois, will design and deliver the prefabricated steel structure.
In mid-June, Tormoehlen said, Recreation Unlimited of Noblesville will spend about a week assembling the open-air pavilion, which will have a metal roof with a cupola to match the look of the nearby Brownstown Public Library.
Following some electrical work and landscaping, Tormoehlen hopes to have the pavilion ready for use by the first part of July.
Tormoehlen is one of several people who have volunteered materials, time or money to ensure Heritage Park comes to fruition.
Carl Shake, owner of Brownstown Electric Supply Co., has found someone to do the foundation work at no cost to the town. That company also will provide electricity and light poles for the park.
Margie Strange with Schneider Nursery is leading the landscaping design, and about 20 people have signed up to help with a variety of tasks. People can still get involved by signing up at town hall.
Tormoehlen has been actively involved in the project for about six months and said he is happy to do so.
“That’s kind of the joy of it, the fun of it,” he said. “I do it because it needs to be done, but the fun is seeing it happen. That’s why I like the construction business. I’ve been a contractor all my life, and I just like to see things get done, get built and look nice.”
The pavilion costs $81,800. After a few unsuccessful attempts at landing a grant, the town learned earlier this year it was one of seven in Indiana chosen to receive a Place Based Investment grant from two state agencies. That’s valued at $50,000.
“Once you have that money in place, then that’s when the wheels really started turning,” Spurgeon said.
The committee also has received a $5,000 Community Impact grant from the Community Foundation of Jackson County and collected more than $20,000 in donations on its own.
The pavilion will be on a 0.45-acre lot at 121 E. Walnut St. facing the courthouse. The town purchased that property in 2014 for $45,000. A $155,000 federal grant helped pay for the purchase and the $64,562 cost to demolish the two feed mill buildings and a silo.
The park committee sought feedback from the community for potential uses of the site, and the result was an open-air, permanent stage and green space for community events.
Initially, Reynolds said, the committee considered having a wooden stage built by volunteers. But once Tormoehlen became involved, he discouraged going with a wooden stage because “it’s just a maintenance nightmare” and said a pre-fabricated steel structure would last longer and require less maintenance.
Tormoehlen was involved in the early designing process of the pavilion and helped with the grant paperwork.
Nolting said the committee will continue to raise money so funds are available for upkeep and other needs down the road. Spurgeon said selling bricks, benches and other items also could be done to raise money.
Once the pavilion is constructed, restrooms, a storage area, pillars, landscaping and sidewalks will be added as money becomes available.
Two pieces of property next to the park are for sale, and the town council has discussed the possibility of purchasing those lots.
But the town currently doesn’t have $40,000 to purchase those lots, and grant money can’t be used for that purpose.
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The Heritage Park committee is seeking volunteers to help with tasks at the new Brownstown park.
Pushing wheelbarrows, carrying boards and planting flowers and trees will be among the tasks.
Interested volunteers may sign up at Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St., and provide your name, address, phone number and email address.
For information, call 812-358-5500.
To contribute to the Brownstown Heritage Park Fund, visit the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, or call 812-523-4483.
Checks also can be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274. Checks should be made payable to “Community Foundation of Jackson County” with “Brownstown Heritage Park Fund” written in the memo.