City officials are hopeful that a new program might be the catalyst for a collaborative project that’s been evolving for several years.
The Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) is launching the first of five rounds of funding through its Regional Cultivation Fund (RCF). The goal of the RCF is to spur innovation and visionary quality-of-life projects. Awardees will be required to provide a match of at least 30% (20% can be in-kind and 10% must be cash) of the WHIN award amount.
The program will award up to $100,000 per planning grant award and up to $1 million per impact grant award to projects that improve vitality, education and connectivity in WHNI’s 10-county region.
The Wabash Heartland Region is comprised of Benton, Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties.
WHIN defines connectivity as enhancing the engagement and connection of residents in the Wabash heartland via waterways, broadband and transportation, and vitality as increasing the attractiveness of physical spaces for community benefit an implementing measures to improve economic sustainability.
Last month, leaders from Cass County participated in WHIN’s Proposer’s Day on Feb. 18 at Lafayette’s Ivy Tech campus.
Logansport-Cass County Planning Director Arin Shaver outlined a project that would help further develop amenities near Heritage Park and the Little Turtle Waterway trailhead for the connecting regional trail routes that meet within downtown Logansport.
The project would provide amenities like a shelter, restrooms, way-finding, charging stations and hotspots in downtown Logansport. Leaders are currently working on a signed connector route between the Nickel Plate Trail in Miami County and the Panhandle Pathway in Pulaski County.
Shaver said that before the city applies for actual construction funding, they are coordinating with surrounding counties’ master plans.
“There is a trail group representing multiple surrounding counties that submitted and they want to do a master plan,” Shaver said. “What WHIN suggested is that we become part of their master plan, and submit possibly second or third round.”
Once the city and county are included in a regional master plan, the document can be used promotionally to build credibility and support from community members and stakeholders and to develop recommendations and project implementation strategies that best address the recreation needs and interests of the community.
“We’ve already been approved to apply for the grant, the timing will just be a little different,” Shaver said. “It’s still the same grant; it’s still the same process, but instead of this round they’re asking us to apply in the second or third round. They want it all in a master plan.”
For several years, the Farmer’s Market lot at the corner of Fourth and Market Streets has been identified as an underutilized area that could be further developed.
In September, as part of Logansport Re-Imagined Week, Shaver and a team of high school students who are participating in the My Community, My Vision program hosted a pop-up event to help people ‘reimagine’ the space.
Shaver has been working to secure pledges toward the required local match for the project that would allow the Logansport Parks Foundation to apply for the WHIN grant.
The total project cost for this phase is $713,400. The Logansport Redevelopment Commission has pledged $107,000 from TIF funds and the Logansport City Council is considering a $107,000 pledge from CEDIT funds.
During Proposer’s Day, Cass County Economic Development also proposed submitting a planning grant for installing rural broadband in underserved areas and the City of Logansport is looking at a planning grant for trail connection from downtown Logansport to the Panhandle Trail near France Park.