INDIANAPOLIS — Before Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann could finish announcing Crawfordsville as the recipient of the Stellar Communities Designation Program, cheers and applause erupted from a large contingent of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County officials who gathered inside the Normandy Barn on the Indiana State Fair grounds.

Crawfordsville topped two other Indiana cities, Decatur and Marion, as the division one designee.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton was ecstatic with the announcement. As a Stellar designated community, the city can now receive several million dollars of federal and private funds to help complete six special projects, which are part of a larger and more comprehensive plan.

“When we developed the Stellar plan, we saw it more than just money,” Barton said. “We are excited about the vision we created for our community. We have listened to the people of Crawfordsville, and I am confident we have a solid plan to move the city forward.”

Barton told program attendees his Stellar Community team wanted to face two main issues they believe are in need of correction. The mayor said it is a goal to attract professionals to Crawfordsville and to keep residents in the 20- to 35-year-old demographic.

“We need to keep the younger people in our community,” Barton said. “We see them leaving and that is a trend we need to stop.”

Special projects listed in the city’s application include the following:

• Fusion 54 — A 20,000 square foot building that will bring several community organizations under one roof, including a visitors welcome center. Local residents and Wabash College students will be able to utilize the building for business startups and development opportunities.

• Pike Street Pocket Park — Create a .3-acre pocket park at the corner of East Pike and South Washington streets designed to host events and serve as a gathering place.

• The Big Four Trail — Construct a trail that will begin at Fusion 45, pass through Wabash College and join the existing Sugar Creek Trail.

• Historic Whitlock Neighborhood Owner Occupied Rehabilitation — Create a boost to the area surrounding Historic Whitlock Place through property development by partnering with Community Action Program of Western Indiana.

• Downtown Look Trail/Bike and Pedestrian- friendly streets — Promote the use of downtown by connecting the Amtrak Station to downtown and the Marie Canine Plaza and Big Four Trail. Also the plan calls to separate the currently combined sewer and storm water lines throughout downtown.

• Ben Hur Building Adaptive Reuse — Redevelopment of the historic Ben Hur Life Building to include a restaurant/bar, lobby, conference space, condominiums and hotel space.

The Stellar Communities Designation Program started in 2011. Crawfordsville had applied for a grant every year.

North Liberty was the division 2 Stellar designee.

Ellspermann applauded the teamwork of both communities and state agencies.

“I continue to be extremely impressed by the quality of work and dedication of the communities who apply for the Stellar Communities Designation,” Ellspermann said. “Crawfordsville and North Liberty rose to the top with their innovative and comprehensive plans that are set to strengthen their downtown areas and have transformed long term impacts on their communities.”

© 2020,, Crawfordsville, IN.