A $1 million project to improve and revitalize One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour gets underway today.
A groundbreaking will be at 10 a.m. with city officials and representatives from Seymour Main Street and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in attendance.
Schutte Excavating of Greensburg is the general contractor for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by May 2020. The project was designed by HWC Engineering of Indianapolis.
Funding for the project is coming from a $590,000 state Community Development Block Grant, $430,000 from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission, $10,000 from the Community Foundation of Jackson County, $5,000 from the city of Seymour and $5,000 from Seymour Main Street.
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One of the most important elements of the project is making the area accessible, said Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street.
The current design has picnic tables set up in a pit area with concrete steps on the west and north sides but no ramp making it difficult to navigate for wheelchairs and strollers, Schepman said.
Once complete, the area will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The pit will be filled in and made flat, and a curbless street design will be implemented similar to Fourth Street in Columbus.
Other features will include a sculptural Seymour sign, a trellis with bench swings, a seat wall, a turf-covered area with play features, tables and chairs, a music play area with interactive instruments and benches.
Schepman said the project has already benefited the city by helping attract new businesses and investors to the area.
"Being able to show potential business owners what we have coming to the downtown has created a buzz and excitement," Schepman said. "It has gained downtown Seymour attention and shows the city cares about the downtown, making other businesses want to invest in the downtown."
She expects the project along with the addition of several new restaurants to change the entire dynamic of downtown Seymour.
"It will become a destination where families can come and eat, shop and play and really spend the whole day," she said.
Although parking will change from parallel parking to angled parking along the south side of St. Louis Avenue, Schepman said the number of parking spaces will stay the same.
One feature that won’t be part of the project is a pedestrian walkway over the Louisville and Indiana Railroad into Crossroads Community Park.
"Since this project is funded from a grant, we have a timeline from the state, and we have to stay within those time limits," Schepman said.
City officials have been in talks with the railroad company about the crossing, but the process does not enable the project to be completed in time, so it was eliminated.
"We will have a crossing," Schepman said. "It just is not part of this project."