Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Starting in 2012, construction will begin in earnest on downtown North Vernon's Stellar Community project.
The results will be a grand new meeting place for the community and a magnet for new businesses and shoppers.
"They'll be some dust and a little inconvenience, but when it's over downtown will look great," said North Vernon Mayor Harold "Soup" Campbell.
"Winning the Stellar Community grant will let us get more downtown revitalization work done in the next 24 months than we would have been able to do in years, if not decades," Campbell said.
Phases 1 of the streetscape work should begin construction in the second half of 2012. Phase 1 will include work on O&M and 5th streets north of the CSX railroad. Work in 2012 would also include work on Short Street. The second phase, including work on Madison and 5th street south of the CSX railroad, will begin in 2013.
Details about these and other Stellar Community projects can be found at www.northvernonstellar.com.
"We are doing everything we can to minimize problems for local businesses and their customers," said Cory Whitesell, project manager for Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, which is overseeing the construction. "Meetings will be scheduled with business owners before construction begins to explain the construction sequence," Whitesell said.
In the meantime, the following section answers some basic questions about the project.
What work will occur in 2012?
Three projects will begin in the summer of 2012:
- Streetscape improvements will be made on O&M between 4th and 5th, and on 5th from O&M to Hoosier.
- Façade improvements will be made in the same area.
- Short Street work will begin.
What work will occur in 2013?
- Streetscape improvements will be made on Madison between US 50 and O&M/4th Street and on 5th Street from US 50 to O&M.
- Façade improvements will occur in that same area.
How will customers be able to reach downtown businesses during construction?
Pedestrian access will be maintained to all businesses throughout construction. The streets will need to be closed to vehicular traffic at times to complete the work. Details are being worked out and will be discussed with local business owners before construction begins.
How will this impact traffic?
A key goal of the project is to simplify an area that out-of-town drivers find confusing.
First, the plan will eliminate two of the six roads intersecting at Madison Street and US 50 – greatly simplifying this intersection.
Second, the plan will eliminate two of the three roads intersecting Madison Street near the CSX depot – improving traffic safety in this area.
Which specific roads will be affected?
- Madison Street will be converted to two way traffic between US 50 and Main Street.
- Poplar Street will be closed from Jennings Street to Madison Street.
- Short Street will be closed entirely.
- Madison Street (South of US 50) will be closed.
How will this impact parking downtown?
There are currently over 800 parking spaces within a five-minute walk from Short Street; that's enough parking for downtown even if all floors of every building were occupied. As long as parking is not decreased, there will still be enough parking.
While closing Short Street eliminates 17 parking spaces, 28 new spaces will be added only steps away. Eight new spaces will be created along Madison Avenue. Twenty additional spaces are proposed in a new public lot near the Depot.
Won't redevelopment at the Arvin site and police station cause parking shortages?
No. Those developments will be required to provide their own parking.
What is happening at the Arvin site?
The Stellar project includes funding for the city to buy the property, clean up existing environmental issues at the site, and tear down the building. Ultimately, the intent is to ready the site for future private development. A voluntary offer to purchase the property has been made at this time.
What is happening at the Police Station site?
The Stellar project includes funding for a new mixed use building on the west side of the site. This would include commercial space on the first floor, and residential apartments on upper floors. The Police Station would remain in its current location.
Is acquisition of the former Napa building (next to the Carnegie) included in the project?
There is no funding in the Stellar Communities program for acquisition of the Napa building.
What happens to the bank drive-through on Madison Street?
The drive-through/ATM is in the project area. In order to make Madison Street two-way, the bank site may need to be purchased. The city has initiated discussions with the bank regarding this issue, but no decisions have been reached.
What happens to the depot?
The train depot is in the project area. The tracks will remain "live," but we are in discussion with CSX about the future of the depot, but no decisions have been made.
Is it too late to sign up for Façade improvements for my business?
Businesses have until February 29 to sign up. Signing up does not commit a business to participate, but instead makes them eligible to meet with the architect and receive a preliminary design for their business - at no cost to the business.
How can I review the materials that were presented at the January 23, 2012 meeting?
Plans are available at the Mayor's office, or may be viewed online at www.northvernonstellar.com.
How can I provide input?
There are several ways. Persons can contact the Mayor, city council member, or any stellar committee member. There also is a way to ask questions on the North Vernon Stellar Ready website. Click "Contact Us" in the upper right corner.
How much money is the city getting?
The city will get about $13.8 million from state agencies to be spent on 10 specific projects over a three-year period.
What is this costing the city?
North Vernon's match will be about $2.4 million, with most of the money coming from the Jennings County Redevelopment Commission.
To get the grant, the city had to agree to use local funds to match the state's investment. The exact amount of the grant and the local match may change some based upon the actual cost of construction. The money will be given by the state as the work is done.
Who is in charge?
Mayor Soup Campbell is in charge of implementing the North Vernon Stellar Communities Grant.
A Stellar Communities committee helped prepare the application which won the grant.
To carry out construction and other technical aspects, the committee has hired consultants, who report to the mayor and Stellar Committee. Hannum, Wagle & Cline Engineering, with offices in Indianapolis and Terre Haute, is leading the consultant team.
How are decisions made?
Mayor Campbell and the local steering committee make decisions as the projects move forward.
The exact projects have not changed much since they were included in the grant application, but there are a lot of details to work out as they move toward construction. The committee has been meeting about once a week to get the projects up and going since the grant was awarded in March 2011.
Because there are multiple projects, subcommittees have been set up. The following list shows the local subcommittee representatives and the consultants working on those projects.
Stellar Committee: Mayor Campbell, Pat York, Tony Eder, Kathy Ertel and Chris Ertel.
Consultant Selection Committee: Mayor Campbell, Kathy Ertel and Matt Hurley.
Carnegie Building Committee: Mayor Campbell, Kathy Ertel and Connie Rayburn. Consultants: Cory Whitesell of Hannum, Wagle & Cline Engineering (HWC) and Mike Smith of KZF Design of Cincinnati.
Irish Hill Housing Committee: Mayor Campbell, Pat York, Tony Eder and Kathy Ertel. Consultants: Eric Frey and Deb Lilly of ARa in Columbus, Ind.
Irish Hill Street and Sidewalk Committee: Pat York and Tony Eder. Consultants: Cory Whitesell of HWC.
Arvin Site Committee: Pat York and Tony Eder. Consultants: Cory Whitesell of HWC.
Train Depot Committee: Mayor Campbell, Pat York and Tony Eder. Consultants: Cory Whitesell of HWC.
Finance Committee: Chris Ertel, Pat York and Rita Elmore.
Who picked the projects?
Two factors were used to select the projects.
The first factor was the requirements of the state's Stellar Grant, which was looking for large-scale projects that could be funded by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Office of Community and Rural Affairs or Indiana Department of Transportation.
The state wanted projects that would have a noticeable local and regional impact, spread over the three-year grant cycle.
The second factor was the revitalization goals and strategies the community already had in place, as captured in the 2009 City of North Vernon Comprehensive Plan.
The plan clearly spelled out specific projects for downtown revitalization as well as ways to further service the housing and other needs of the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC).
In other words, all of the projects had already been considered as community priorities even before the Stellar Communities grant was announced.
The table below shows how closely North Vernon's Stellar Community projects correspond with the goals of its comprehensive plan.
|Comprehensive Plan Goals (2009)||Stellar Community Project|
|Downtown North Vernon: The city will lead the way in downtown revitalization by assisting with beautification, code enforcement, historic preservation and the creation of gateways to downtown.||
Arvin Redevelopment Site
Depot Events Center
|The Highway 50 Bypass: The bypass will alleviate traffic problems and open up new areas for economic development. However, preparation is needed to build downtown into a regional destination.||
Historic Uptown Streetscape
|MUTC: The training center benefits North Vernon and accommodations will be made for the center and its associated facilities. The city supports their mission and will work to integrate the center and its people into the community.||
Short Street Plaza
Main Street Development
|Housing: The city will support older neighborhoods through grants and other means and will prepare for a mix of new residential units, including moderate to higher end housing.||
Irish Hill Revitalization
Why did North Vernon win?
MUTC was a major factor in the city getting selected for the Stellar Communities grant.
While completing the city's comprehensive plan, it became apparent that North Vernon did not have everything the center needs for housing, recreation and other services. As a result, much of the money being spent outside the gates of MUTC was going to communities like Columbus instead of North Vernon.
MUTC officials asked the city for help in providing these services, and North Vernon's leaders saw a chance to revitalize their downtown while helping the center.
How are consultants and contractors being selected?
Proposals from architects, engineers and grant administrators were requested and reviewed. A scoring committee selected firms based on their qualifications, according to funding agency requirements.
Contractors for construction work will be selected through the public bid process. Some projects require special qualifications as determined by the agencies funding the projects.
Are local businesses getting any of the work?
Yes. A local engineering firm is part of the design team. Local contractors have the opportunity to bid on the construction work as well.
For the average citizen, what will be different after Stellar?
The amount of money and energy being poured into downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods during the next three years for revitalization wouldn't be accomplished in 20 years or longer, if it wasn't for the Stellar Communities project.
North Vernon will be different when it's done. If you live in Irish Hill, your home may receive new energy efficient windows or other improvements. If you have a storefront downtown, your façade may be restored. If you're a local entrepreneur, you may find a new home for your business after the Arvin site is cleared and remediated.
There will be many tangible and intangible results.