Building on a year of success, Seymour Main Street plans to make 2018 even better by changing the landscape of the downtown to attract more people to spend time exploring and more businesses to invest in the area.
The organization is working closely with the city to prepare for the opening of the new downtown park in late spring and on renovating and updating One Chamber Square.
Although weather has slowed construction at the site of Crossroads Community Park, the project still is expected to be completed by late May, officials said.
Located at the “crossroads” of two rail lines in the 100 block of East Tipton Street, the 3-acre park will become the gateway into downtown and the site of new and expanding events, said Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street.
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A large outdoor stage, pavilion with lawn area and public parking and restrooms will make the park the perfect location for outdoor concerts, including the Seymour CityJam summer concert series, art and community festivals and other events, including the Seymour Area Farmers Market, she said.
The name of the park recently chosen was to tie in with the city’s Crossroads Community Trails, an ongoing project to connect areas of the city with trails and make it more accessible to navigate by biking and walking.
The $3.5 million park is being funded by the Seymour Redevelopment Commission using tax increment financing revenue and is being developed by GM Development of Indianapolis.
Tom Goecker, chairman of Seymour Main Street’s design committee, said the organization is working with the city on a grant that would help pay for upgrading One Chamber Square, too, located on South Chestnut Street next to the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce building.
Construction of One Chamber Square was completed in September 1987 as part of a $1 million downtown rehabilitation project. There hasn’t been any major work done to the park, which cost an estimated $160,000, since that time, Goecker said.
“It’s time for some upgrades,” he said.
Ball State University students are involved in the project and presented some preliminary ideas for the One Chamber Square property in December.
“We’re looking at tying it together to the new park,” Goecker said.
For people to easily and safely walk from the park to One Chamber Square and further downtown, Goecker said a pedestrian rail crossing gate is needed. That won’t be easy to get approved by the railroad companies, but it would go a long way in making the area more accessible, he said.
Another goal of Seymour Main Street is to beautify the downtown and make it more inviting for people to visit and stay.
The organization has been working to replace downtown benches and install bike racks and wayfinding signs, Goecker said.
He hopes to be able to add another 40 benches in the next couple of years through grant money but said Seymour Main Street may have to take up that cost to get them all placed.
The design committee also is working with the Jackson County Recycling District to replace trash cans with recycling/trash combination receptacles to increase recycling opportunities, Goecker said.
To attract more businesses and to help current building owners improve their properties, the economic restructuring committee continues to maintain the Seymour Main Street loan and grant program.
That program issued $19,428.65 in grants in 2017 to five downtown businesses for new awnings, signs and/or building facades and a $10,000 loan to a local building owner to renovate 123 W. Second St., for a total of $29,428.65 invested in the downtown.
“Ultimately, our goal is to have 100 percent of the buildings in downtown occupied,” said Jeff Nolting, committee chairman. “We also obviously want to maintain facades, which will help maintain the structural integrity of our buildings downtown.”
Nolting said the biggest request the committee gets is for help replacing windows, so they are looking at whether Main Street can offer financial assistance with that particular need.
“If you look through downtown, there is a lot of different variety of windows,” he said.
There also is concern that some of the older windows could be safety hazards because they do not shatter when broken but come down as a single pane, he said.
This year, Seymour Main Street gained 14 new members, bringing the organization’s total to 109 members. Membership fees brought in $16,129.04 in 2017.
People interested in becoming members and supporting Seymour Main Street can now do so through the organization’s newly designed website, seymourmainstreet.org.
Brandon Hunsley, chairman of the organization committee, said a new strategic plan will be completed soon to allocate more specific responsibilities and to try to accomplish more in the next five years.
“It’s going to give us a lot of work to do, as we have big plans for downtown and for some of our events,” he said. “Hopefully, downtown will look a lot different five years from now.”
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Seymour Main Street 2018 board
Brandon Hunsley, president
Beth Veatch, vice president
Suzi Judd, treasurer
Jane Graessle, secretary
Members: Fred Moritz, Tom Goecker, Jim Noelker, Anthony Walker, Melissa Collins, Monica Hartung, Roger Smith, Jeff Nolting, Mindy Roeder, Melody Hageman, Shannan Silver, Mayor Craig Luedeman and Tricia Bechman, president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce
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Calendar of spring events in downtown Seymour
One Chamber Square Spring Scavenger Hunt: 10 a.m. April 7
Parking Lot Pickers: 8 a.m. April 14
Happy Glamper Show: Noon April 28
Seymour Area Farmers Market opens: 8 a.m. May 5
Downtown Shop Around: 9 a.m. May 19
Seymour CityJam: 6 p.m. June 21