Matthew Tipton, 6 and Gabbie Tipton, 3, paint rocks at the Oasis open house Thursday evening.
Matthew Tipton, 6 and Gabbie Tipton, 3, paint rocks at the Oasis open house Thursday evening.
Mayor Harold Gordon had a special announcement during the dedication of The Oasis.

“When I first got elected, I traveled to other cities and most people wanted green spaces downtown. I had two lots picked out, this one and Burkhardt’s property. I want to let you know, we got both of them,” Gordon said.

The Oasis is in the 500 block of central, a vacant lot between two buildings across from City Hall. Starting about two months ago, it has become a green space of vegetables and flowers in raised beds, a decorative fence and a public space.

Burkhardt’s was a bar on the north side of the Fayette County Courthouse parking area. It had been vacant and was listed for sale, then demolished. The lot had been for sale. Gordon did not say what the city has in mind for that space.

Money to purchase the lots came from a grant from Urban Enterprise Association to the Redevelopment Commission. The RDC formally approved the purchases Friday morning and will own the lots.

Brad Wilson, Discover Connersville’s president, is pleased with what the downtown lot has been turned into.

“So many volunteers have helped, we have had over 100 kids involved in this project,” Brad Wilson said. “I have the honor and privilege to be the president of Discover Connersville. It is recognized statewide and nationally. We want to enhance and preserve downtown. There are too many people to begin to thank, so many volunteers have helped. It has been such a great experience, there was a time we thought this wouldn’t happen but here we are.”

Becky Marvel, area coordinator for Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program, had the idea for The Oasis after taking a class on enhancing the value of public space.

“We decided to write a grant. Six towns in Indiana were selected and we were number one. Purdue came down for several meetings and we came up with this. So when we saw this was a vacant lot and a food desert, I wanted to plant the seed and allow this place to grow.”

Throughout the evening, members of the community enjoyed appetizers, vegetables from the garden and activities for children. The lot is owned by Jim and Zola Bunzendahl, who allowed the group to put in The Oasis.

Discover Connersville worked with Fayette County Community Voices, Purdue and many volunteers on the project, financed with a grant from the Fayette Community Foundation.

Gordon said, “We were able to get the money UEA with help from others, we are going to do great things. This has been a good project for the community. We really appreciate Jim and Zola Bunzendahl for helping us with this.”
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