City plans to reapply for grant to fund One Chamber Square project


After an unsuccessful first attempt to secure state funding to renovate One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour, the city isn’t giving up on the project.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he wasn’t surprised Seymour wasn’t chosen for the first round of Community Development Block grants from the state because of the competitiveness of the program.

“What I have found out is that it typically takes two to three applications before a project is funded,” he said. “Greensburg just got funded, and that was their second or third round they’ve went after it.”

The city plans to submit the project again Nov. 30 for the second round of funding from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. A proposal is due by Oct. 5.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1,040,000 and will include the renovation of One Chamber Square along with streetscape improvements to St. Louis and Jeffersonville avenues and a pedestrian crosswalk over the Louisville and Indiana railroad into Crossroads Community Park.

A preliminary concept plan from HWC Engineering shows new elements, including porch swings, interactive art and musical features for children, tables and chairs and other architectural and landscaping features.

One of the most important aspects of the project is making the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The current design of One Chamber Square has picnic tables set up in a pit area with concrete steps on the west and north sides but no ramp.

That pit would be filled in and made flat, and curbless street design would be implemented, similar to Fourth Street in Columbus. Parking along the south side of St. Louis Avenue would change from parallel to angle parking.

If awarded, the city will receive $600,000 for the work and will have to contribute a total of $440,000 in required matching funds. Of the matching funds, $430,000 would come from tax increment financing revenue from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission, $5,000 from the city’s economic development income tax fund and $5,000 from Seymour Main Street.

A required public hearing on the project was conducted during the city council meeting Monday night to give people an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

No one spoke in favor of or against the project during the hearing. The public will have another opportunity to share their support or concerns about the project at a council meeting in November before the final application is submitted to the state.

A similar hearing took place in July for the first grant application.

Grant writer Trena Carter with Administrative Resources association said the city will be notified in January if the project receives state funding.

Construction would begin next summer, Carter said.

Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street, said the project is an important step in the organization’s continued work to revitalize the downtown.

The city will celebrate Downtown Development Week Oct. 8 through 12 with a visit from Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch on Oct. 12.

Crouch will tour the downtown and take part in Seymour Main Street’s second Scarecrow Stroll, where downtown businesses display homemade scarecrows.

The public can vote on their favorite scarecrows at each participating business. Votes will be tallied Oct. 31, and the winner will receive a plaque and a gift card.

“Last year, this was a huge success and a lot of fun,” Schepman said. “We are thrilled to see the creativity of our downtown businesses again this year and have the chance to show off our downtown to the lieutenant governor.”

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