A number of Stellar Communities projects for the Wabash community are expected to shape up this summer, but other projects originally outlined in the City’s Stellar application remain on hold.
The proposed Paradise Spring Historical Park amphitheater and two-way street conversion on Market and Canal streets remain on indefinite hiatus following former Mayor Robert Vanlandingham’s decision to cut the projects from Stellar funding last year, while a plan to connect three Wabash bike trails has been altered and will receive different funding sources.
The projects were part of Wabash’s strategic investment plan submitted to Stellar overseers in 2014, but were removed from the plan once the City decided that it would focus its limited funds on other projects.
“It was a decision made with the mayor (Vanlandingham) and Executive Steering Committee and Stellar agencies to determine which projects were the best for the funds that we had,” Stellar Project Manager Rachel Uthe, an architect from Indianapolis-based contractor American Structurepoint, advised the Plain Dealer.
The amphitheater project would have seen a 3,000- to 4,000-seat outdoor venue for concerts and other entertainment at Paradise Spring Historical Park, according to the City’s Stellar application.
The project was expected to enhance downtown Wabash’s regional value as an entertainment hub, but was dropped due to the park’s location on a flood plain.
Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County, said that he likes the amphitheater idea, but that the City is too busy with other projects to reconsider it right now.
“There’s a lot of irons in the fire to manage for all of the Stellar projects that there wasn’t any state or federal funding committed to it,” Gillenwater said, “and sometimes you have to work on the things that you can do well and make sure everything is working correctly and then you pick back up.”
The two-way street conversion project proposed for Market and Canal streets in downtown Wabash continues to be on hold as well amid concerns that altering one-way traffic would lead to accidents and confusion.
Mayor Scott Long told the Plain Dealer earlier this year that he does not plan to revisit the two-way street discussion in 2016. Requests for comment from Long were not returned as of deadline Friday.
Plans to enhance the area’s bike trails, however, will move forward despite being cut from Stellar funding.
While the original Stellar application emphasized connecting three trails within the city – the Wabash Riverwalk Trail, the Cultural Trail on Hill Street and the Charley Creek Alternative Trail – a number of community stakeholders this spring announced a fundraising effort to connect the Wabash Riverwalk Trail to Lagro.
The project is in line with a regional effort to connect trails throughout northeast Indiana and encourage more bike travel.
“Our vision is to eventually be able to take that piece of riverwalk and connect it with the other trails in the region,” Gillenwater said.
A proposal for a regional trails network is included in the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s original Regional Cities Initiative application, but it remains unclear how much, if any, of the $42 million in State grant funding the region will be devoted to these projects.