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Cannelton revitalization begins

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Public invited to meeting on city planning effort

By KEVIN KOELLING
Managing Editor

CANNELTON – City leaders in Cannelton want ideas from the public as they begin contributing to a plan to revitalize the downtown area.

During a special meeting Jan. 28, the Cannelton Common Council authorized the mayor to sign a contract to plan the revitalization of the city’s downtown area. The maximum cost will be $30,000, for which the city received a state grant. Cannelton will have to pay $5,000 to the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, Mayor Mary Snyder said. Triad Associates Inc., an engineering and architecture firm in Indianapolis, will develop the plan.. The company has an October deadline and the plan must get council approval before it’s finalized, Snyder added. Meetings will be scheduled to seek public input.

Having a plan in place would allow the city to apply for “a couple hundred thousand” dollars in funding for improvements, the mayor said.

“They really want to work with the mayor and with the public to make a plan that we’re going to be happy with,” Councilwoman Lynn Fulkerson said after explaining she was on a committee that met with company representatives. “One thing we talked about was opening up the floodwall there on Washington Street, having an entrance there.”

The mayor didn’t think that could be done, Fulkerson continued, “but they said they’ve worked with other places that have floodwalls and have opened it up where the … river is more inviting.”

“Once we get that floodwall certified, I’d just as soon leave it alone,” the mayor said with a laugh. She reported at a December meeting the city had completed the first phase of a certification mandated for flood-control structures nationwide after some along the Gulf of Mexico failed during Hurricane Katrina.

City leaders often refer to Washington Street as Main Street, and Fulkerson said it would be nice if the opening in the wall was at the end of Washington instead of Taylor.

“I think at one time Taylor was the main street,” she added.

“That was the entrance to the ferry,” Councilman Melvin McBrayer said. He and others agreed Taylor was a state highway then.

“It would be nice to try to get that river open,” Fulkerson said, “because we talk about our river being our main tourist attraction.” She asked, however, “do we want to harm our accreditation by doing something silly?”

“There’s always a possibility, too, of Tell City connecting us up with the railroad,” the mayor said. She was referring to the Hoosier Southern Railroad, whose tracks extending into Cannelton have gone unused for years. Adding tourism to the railroad’s mission has been discussed, and “we can bring it right on in to Can-Clay,” Snyder said. Councilman Jack Harris asked if people were talking about that being a possibility.

“Anything’s possible,” the mayor replied.

“You know, they have that train that goes from Jasper to French Lick,” Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth said. “I’d like to see something like that for us to go to French Lick.”

“I’m excited to see what they have,” Fulkerson said, explaining the planners went to Can-Clay and got some decorative chimney caps. “I didn’t even know (they) made those; they were beautiful, gorgeous!” Triad would like to incorporate such locally crafted items into items into its plans, Fulkerson said. “You could put a light pole down into it,” she said as an example.

McBrayer, who retired from Can-Clay, said it was called white ware and was “more notable” in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

The mayor said once a plan is developed and approved, parts of it could be implemented as money becomes available. Asked what she’d like to see included in it, she said new curbing, elimination of bump-outs, new lampposts and improvement of sidewalk brickwork in which grass sprouts and is difficult to remove. The bricks, which people paid for, won’t be discarded.

“We talked about putting a brick fence around the park,” Snyder said, explaining it could be only five bricks high and bricks with names could be placed along the top.

“We’re open to any ideas,” she said.

Triad “had shown a little more creativity than the other engineering firms we talked to,” Snyder said, drawing agreement from Fulkerson and Bozarth. They urged the others to “get as many people as you can to come to those planning meetings.”

It takes community involvement to get any money at all,” the mayor said before seeking a motion authorizing her to sign the contract, which the council approved unanimously.

A planning meeting has been scheduled by the Cannelton Community Foundation and Triad for 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at City Hall.

“It’s open to anybody and everybody,” the mayor said.