GREENFIELD — Two different groups in Hancock County are joining forces in hopes of being chosen for the state of Indiana’s Stellar Communities program.
If one or both of the groups are chosen, residents could see major improvements to their hometowns, including downtown revitalization, street improvements, trails and new parks. Being designated as a Stellar Community opens up access to more than $8 million in state grant money from a variety of state agencies including the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
In Hancock County, Fortville and Greenfield have teamed up and Cumberland, McCordsville and New Palestine have joined forces to apply.
McCordsville Town Manager Tonya Galbraith said it made sense to partner with New Pal and Cumberland since the communities have a history of working together that dates back several years.
They share the Mt. Comfort corridor, and their plan centers on improving that road system.
“There’s a theme of technology throughout this project,” said Ryan Crum, director of planning & building in McCordsville. “We’re trying to add smart amenities, smart traffic signals, better technology throughout the corridor.”
Fortville and Greenfield also are submitting a joint application for Stellar. Greenfield Planning Director Joanie Fitzwater said this project has been in the works for several months and ties in nicely with what the city is trying to do with its long-term development and planning.
The Fortville-Greenfield project will focus on health and heritage, with Greenfield targeting projects originally listed in the city’s master plan. Those include, among others, the Riley Literary Trail, Depot Street redesign and preservation, South Street redesign as well as additional downtown revitalization.
What specific projects get selected will be determined after a community is selected as a finalist. From the announcement of finalists in April to the tapping of the ultimate winners in November, communities meet with several different stakeholders and state groups in order to specify exactly what each project would be, how much each project would cost and how each project would improve the quality of life in that community.
Groups are also encouraged to seek public and private investments to assist with the projects.
On Wednesday, Fortville will conduct an open house at the Fortville Community Center for residents to hear additional information on the proposed projects and ask questions.
This is the first year the state has encouraged regional partnerships. Previously, individual towns or cities could apply. For 2018, municipalities are required to team up and file a joint application in order to be considered.
The communities must submit a Letter of Intent to the state by Friday. The letter details what projects the groups would address if chosen, details how money would be spent and discusses any public and private financing that would be sought to help with the various projects.
On April 19, the finalists will be announced. If selected, the community plans are then ramped up to include a detailed Regional Development Plan, due back to the state in August.
The final two winners will be announced in November.