HomeTop StoriesGreensburg: City's growth is evident

Greensburg: City’s growth is evident

Apr. 1—GREENSBURG — A wave of progress has swept over the city of Greensburg in recent years, perhaps in a way unprecedented in its 200 year history.

Spurred by the 2016 Stellar Communities initiative and by the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has seen improvements in its streets, its parks and its infrastructure in ways local residents have rarely seen.

Mayor Joshua Marsh said of a drive through town before he took office, “I noticed we were not out advocating for businesses and people Greensburg calls home. We were not advancing our cultural amenities, economic development or the workforce.”

Some would say “and the rest followed.”

City Hall

Using funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), the renovation of Greensburg’s City Hall began in January 2021.

Workers installed a new roof, removed the room ventilators and sealed off the outside louvers to control the humidity in the building.

The boilers were removed and replaced with a new chiller and heat pumps.

A completely redesigned HVAC system was installed, providing sanitized air to each room with the ability to seal off particular sections in the case of fire emergency or needed repairs.

The water service was moved from the front of the building to the mechanical room located in back of the building, and new bathroom facilities were created and furnished with hard-wired touch-free sensor units. All the toiletry fixtures were replaced with adult-height fixtures as well.

All interior and exterior lighting was replaced with LED lighting, manual controls were replaced with power saving automatic upgrades, the entire building is now protected against electrical surges, and a completely new wireless internet system was installed.

All the dated wood accents and color schemes were replaced with modern xylotone laminated countertops and cabinetry, as well as brushed silver, natural stone facades and back-lit frosted glass accents to harmonize with the newly adopted city logo.

A modern audio-visual system was installed in the old gymnasium, and now that carpeted space provides a place for frequent city meetings of almost any size.

The remodel also created space for city not-for-profits like the GDC Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Greensburg organization, to name a few.

The airport

A 20-year project from the first discussion to the last foot of blacktop installation, a longer, wider business-class runway at Greensburg Airport was completed in late 2023.

The old runway at Greensburg Airport was 3,433 x 40 feet when it was first paved in 1980. It worked well for the crop dusters and the occasional private planes for which it was designed. But, growth in Greensburg called for a larger runway that could accommodate small private jets and cargo planes.

For years, executive visitors and small wares for Honda, Valeo and other local industry players had to fly into Columbus or Cincinnati and then be driven to Tree City.

So, after $10 million in EDIT funds, countless meetings and 20 years, the finished runway is now 5,405 by 100 feet.

Industry representatives can fly directly to Greensburg, making the city a much more attractive option to industrial interests (and residents) looking to visit or settle locally.

The old runway will remain in service for taxiing, and there will be new hangers built along its length.

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“In growing a city, tools are required, and a business class airport is a great tool in our belt. This will allow us to compete with other cities for years to come,” Mayor Marsh said.

Pirate Park

A 9-acre plot of land was given to the city by the Greensburg Community School Board in 2020.

A need for a green space that could be flexed into a sports venue or used as festival grounds was first defined in the 2016 Stellar Application.

With funding from the city, the Greensburg Redevelopment Commission, the Regional Economic Development and Acceleration Initiative (READI), and a grant from Indiana Destination Development Corporation, Pirate Park became a reality.

Graded on a 1% slope for drainage, the space is large enough to hold 40 soccer fields and can accommodate tournaments of many sizes.

The pavilion built there houses a concession area, restrooms, a space for visiting referees, storage for goals, equipment, and other items needed for hosting a state, regional or national tournament.

In 2023, Pirate Park was the site for its first youth soccer competition, and in April during the weekend of the upcoming eclipse, Greensburg will make use of the space for the first time as they host a festival with food trucks, bands and assorted festival vendors.

Visit Greensburg (Tourism) Director Philip Deiwert said, “At a local level, residents will benefit from having a community green space where they can exercise, meet friends and play outside.”

Building Bridges Inclusion Park

In late 2019, Greensburg Police Chief Brendan Bridges began speaking with city officials about bringing an inclusion park to Greensburg: an area designed for the physical, social and sensory concerns of children with heightened sensory issues and those on the autism spectrum.

Bridges had visited a similar park in Cincinnati with his son Jaxon, who is autistic. He watched Jaxon interact and play with kids of all ages and abilities at that park and thought that a similar park would be a benefit to the residents of Greensburg and the surrounding communities.

So, he met with early childhood development professors, the CEO of Playground Equipment Services and Miracle Midwest to design and create the park here.

After appealing to city leaders for their blessing on the project, fundraising began.

Bridges soon learned the state of Indiana, the city of Greensburg and a host of other parties locally and around the state fully supported the project.

Banks, service organizations, interested private parties, the United Fund, the Decatur County Community Foundation, grantors and a host of other donors chipped in until the final price tag was met.

The project broke ground in early 2023 and opened to the public later that year. The Building Bridges Inclusion Park is the first of its kind in Southeastern Indiana, and the only one of its kind in a 150 mile radius.

On hand for the official opening of the park were representatives from Miracle Playgrounds, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Decatur County Community Foundation, The ARC, Special Olympics, the Inclusion Park Committee leader and founder of the project, Greensburg Mayor Joshua Marsh, the Decatur County Parks director and Accelerate Rural Indiana, as well as a host of other community residents and children.

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Now, Miracle Playgrounds, the company that built the park, is conducting a five year housing study to determine market value of new housing in the vicinity of the facility.

North Park

Mayor Gary Herbert and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bob Barker made improvements to Greensburg’s oldest park in 2010, but the Community Crossing grant and a special partnership with Duke Energy made modernization of North Park a reality.

The Community Crossings Matching Grant Program is a partnership between INDOT and Hoosier communities that provides funding to cities, towns, and counties across Indiana to make improvements to local roads and bridges.

Since 2016, the state has awarded more than $1 billion dollars in state funds to support local road and bridge projects throughout Indiana.

Beginning in 2022, the stretch of N. Carver Street from the intersection of Sixth Street to the bypass was resurfaced, as was Park Street between Sixth and Fourth streets and Fourth Street from Michigan Avenue to Broadway Street.

In the North Park area proper, storm sewers and attractive landscaping was added to the park, as well as a concrete picnic table courtesy of a $1,500 grant Parks and Recreation was awarded

The south and west parking areas were re-paved and the entire park was bordered by an 8-foot wide multi-use path, adding more footage to the many miles of paved walking paths the community already enjoyed.

New street lights were added in hopes of curtailing graffiti, vandalism and other deviant behavior and the project was completed with the addition of sewer and water hookups.

“We’ve truly elevated the park into a place that is somewhere people want to spend time and something they can be proud of,” Mayor Marsh said.

Sidewalks and curbs

According to local edicts, the sidewalks of the community provided public right-of-way, but the owner of each property the walk crosses is responsible for its upkeep.

Funded by the Greensburg City Council in 2023 and again in 2024, residents who want to replace their sidewalks now have a financial tool to help.

Available on a “first-come-first-served” basis, property owners may apply to have the city split the cost of the replacement.

Increasing the value of the property and providing a point of pride for the owner, the neighborhood is bettered and old, unsafe sidewalks are eliminated.

Trail expansion

Another of the Stellar Communities initiatives and a part of the Greensburg Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan, the last piece of the walking trail around the city’s east side was never finished.

A Lilly grant paid for the engineering of the trail that will connect Rebekah Park with the Greensburg Decatur County Public Library.

A $300,000 grant from the Next Level Trails initiative will go towards the final price tag, but issues with right-of-way between the city and American Senior Communities (the owners of the land) are still being resolved.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2025.

As Main Street is renovated this summer by INDOT, the trail project will dovetail with the newly retiled and repaved stretch of Ind. 46 that runs through the city.

Housing

Driven by the Redevelopment Commission (TIF) and working with developers Liberty Lakes LLC, 100 family homes are planned for the residential stretch of Veteran’s Way on Greensburg’s west side.

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Developers for apartments in the downtown area of Greensburg are being investigated. In walking distance from the Square, the housing will provide alternative living accommodations for a newly retooled community.

The Square’s east side

Designed to improve pedestrian accessibility, drainage and to add a streetscape that cosmetically is in keeping with the look of the west side of the Square, a planned renovation of the 100 block of N. Franklin Street will improve architectural continuity in the downtown area. Street lighting updates and new curbs should provide the east side the same picturesque charm as the west side while completely modernizing the area. This project is slated for the summer of 2024.

Renovation of the dilapidated Jobst Building on the northeast corner of the Square is a public-private effort that will provide first floor retail opportunities with second floor housing opportunities. The building is currently being restabilized, with plans for completion in 2025.

“This is a great investment in the city. We had a decision between saving the building and preserving the architecture and history there, or simply building another parking lot,” Mayor Marsh said.

Municipal Complex

The new Greensburg Street Department facility will provide larger parking areas and a larger equipment lock-up space, features not available at the current Railroad Street location.

Also included in the design are interior areas for the employees including a conference room and space devoted specifically to employee lunch amenities.

The new facility will also provide ample bathroom features for more employees; the existing facility has one toilet for 14 employees.

The existing firehouse is 9,451 square feet. When the new location is complete, the two story firehouse will be approximately 21,000 square feet.

The first floor of the new facility will house public restrooms, a conference room, a large central meeting/training room, a fitness room and a radio room flanked by administrative offices, with four drive-thru fire truck bays.

The second floor will house firefighter living quarters, 11 private sleeping rooms with shared restrooms, an open concept Day Room, a kitchen and a personal locker storage area.

The new facility will also include appropriate areas for the proper cleaning and storage of turnout gear after runs, protecting employees from cancerous agents, and individual sleeping quarters for all on-shift firefighting personnel. The new building will also provide separate toilet facilities for men and women.

“For the city of Greensburg, this really means a 50 year investment in the facilities that service us every day, so our employees can have a warm place to eat and for our firemen who are on stand-by 24, 7, 365,” Mayor Marsh said.

The future

“I would like to see the next generation come home to Greensburg. We are losing our best and brightest each year,” Mayor Marsh said. “By advocating for the community and providing new housing and amenities attractive to visitors, I truly believe these projects are not just ways to tap available resources in and outside of the community, but are investments in the very future of our hometown.

Bill Rethlake: bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-651-0876.

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