Construction of downtown park continues


Spring is just around the corner and evidence of that can be found in the progress being made in what was once a vacant parking lot in downtown Seymour.

Curbs for the paved driveway under construction on that lot, which will soon become the city’s newest park, have been created; the concrete block walls of restrooms are beginning to go up; and excavation throughout the 3.24-acre site has begun in earnest.

The construction of Crossroads Community Park involves converting the long-vacant lot in the 100 block of East Tipton Street into a green space for concerts, festivals and other communitywide events. The park will feature a covered pavilion and stage with an event lawn, walking trail, public parking and landscaping.

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Officials also are considering installing a 32-by-32-foot fitness area for visitors to do body weight exercises.

The park’s price tag is about $3.5 million, which includes the purchase of the property from city resident Dick Elmore. The park is funded through tax increment financing revenue, not property taxes.

That funding is generated by the city capturing a portion of property taxes from new development within the TIF district for a designated amount of time. Those funds are controlled by the city’s redevelopment commission.

“Things are looking good, and progress is being made,” said Bob Tabeling, parks and recreation director. “I think it’s going to help the community, and I think it’s a great introduction into downtown.”

City officials are now debating a couple of ideas for the park. One is whether the city will permit alcohol consumption during events.

Park board members discussed the issue during a board meeting Monday afternoon at city hall.

The board is considering adopting a permit policy, which would require an application with event information, including whether the group plans to have alcohol.

“I think it can be done properly. There just needs to be an avenue,” Tabeling said.

The board would have to approve the permit, and there would be a fee.

The board plans to discuss the issue at its April 9 meeting. If the board approves the proposal, it will go to city council for consideration.

The city does not permit alcohol at its parks for events.

Kathy Hohenstreiter, parks board member, said the city has precedence on allowing alcohol during events within the city.

“They allow it during CityJam,” she said, adding enforcing the city’s alcohol ban in parks is difficult. The concert series features four events per year in downtown Seymour on Second Street in the spring, summer and fall.

Tabeling echoed those thoughts.

“My thought is that there will be special events that we recognize do want to have alcohol, and if the individuals seek the proper documentation, then I think we could do it,” Tabeling said.

He said there are other events where alcohol is allowed, including wine and beer tastings and Seymour Oktoberfest.

“Those are events we have had, and I’m not aware of anything major happening at any of those events where alcohol is served,” Tabeling said.

Hohenstreiter said the park also could serve as the host site for beer and wine festivals that have become popular in recent years.

Tabeling and city officials have had discussions with city officials in Fishers, which has a similar policy.

“There’s a fee, but it’s more of a damage deposit,” he said. “They also want to know what the event is all about, and then it goes to a committee for approval.”

Board members agreed they were not interested in overhauling the department’s ban on alcohol at the city’s other parks.

“This park would just be the exception as long as it stays under control,” Tabeling said.

The city also has been approached by JCB, a Seymour-based bank, to potentially sponsor the naming of the stage.

Board members were unsure what the cost of sponsorship would be or how long such a sponsorship would last.

“I think it needs to be a substantial number,” board member Gary Colglazier said of the sponsorship amount.

Sponsorships of parks also is something the city has done before.

Steinker Platz, another downtown park, was named after the family that owned the site and operated a meat market there.

That family contributed $20,000 for the project, Tabeling said.

“There’s going to be a lot of attention on that stage,” board member Matt Levine said.

Board members decided to table the naming issue until the April 9 meeting.

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