A look at the design for the J Long Memorial Second Street Park. Community members have currently surpassed the $250,000 fundraising goal for the project with donations still pending. Image Provided
A look at the design for the J Long Memorial Second Street Park. Community members have currently surpassed the $250,000 fundraising goal for the project with donations still pending. Image Provided
The plan to revitalize the former Jaycee’s Park on Second Street has been in the minds of several community members for years, and then began to gain steam in 2017 when Purdue University piloted a program called Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, choosing Connersville as a focus after a national study found Fayette County the least healthy place in Indiana.

After that, a design for the future park was presented at a launch party this summer and the park was re-christened the J. Long Memorial Second Street Park.

Since then several community organizations as well as the Connersville Parks and Recreation department have worked together to raise funding for the project, to make the vision become a reality.

The goal set for the park was $250,000 to design the park in the plan, with scaled back versions ready if fundraising fell short.

Through the efforts of over 100 donors, the community has reached and exceeded the goal. Parks superintendent Katherine Good said that as of now, the community has raised over $265,000 with some gifts still outstanding.

Originally it was planned that there would be a matching grant to go with the funding. That grant will not be available however. Good said the park has reached deals with contractors for in-kind services that will supplement the income that would have came with the grant.

“Fayette County Community Voices is extremely proud to be part of the J. Long Memorial Second Street Park project, Brayton Johns, Voices Board President said. “We are so excited, that through community collaboration and investment, the project will officially be completed this fall. This effort is a wonderful example of our community moving in the right direction- an example of what collaboration really can do. Thank you to everyone who has believed in this dream.”

Good said the next step will be Tuesday, when the contractors and architects will meet to discuss the scope of work and nail down the specifics to get the final plan in place.

With the help of the community, Good said the original park blueprint that was unveiled this summer is what will be built.

“There is no more taking things away, or paring the project down,” Good said. “We are at a place where we know what we can do.”

Good also emphasized the importance of thanking the community who have completely funded the project. No tax money, grants or anything of the sort went in to the project. It is all crowd funded.

“This is a big step in our revitalization of downtown Connersville,” Discover Connersville Director Sharon McQueen said.

The park is also named in honor of the Long family, which dedicated much of their time to the Park.

Joel Long passed away in March of 2020, but brothers Jim and Jeremy, as well as Joel’s wife Vicki and the rest of the Long family have been a part of the project since the earliest stages.

“We are happy to have had the opportunity to work with the citizens of Connersville to make this project become a reality,” said Vicki. “The park will be a wonderful addition to the south side of Connersville.”

Being able to serve the community is one of the primary goals of many involved in the project.

“’Service to Humanity is the best work of life,’” said Brad Wilson of Discover Connersville. “This statement for me has been a driving motivator for seeing that the J Long 2nd St Memorial Park is a community Project that has come to fruition. Discover Connersville has simply been one of numerous organizations that has collaborated together to take a big step in the revitalization of downtown Connersville and our southern most entry to the city. Fayette County Community Voices, Purdue Extension Connersville, Purdue University, Connersville Jaycees and many a concerned and involved citizen and our business community has risen to the challenge to bring the revitalization of this park to reality.”

Good said the timeline for completion of the park now might actually be reduced from what was originally expected, Good said normally there would need to be a bidding process, but now because of the in-kind work that won’t be necessary. Good said originally the plan would see the park break ground in September, and be finished in November, but now it is more likely work at the park will begin this summer.

Good said this park shows how, though the community may look different, the values of the community remain the same.

“It’s inspiring the next generation to pick up the baton and say let’s keep this core of our community going,” said Good. “This park is a tangible example of that.”

Carrie Pfeiffer, park board Vice President said she is looking forward to seeing people at the park.

“Just people enjoying it, kids, adults, seniors,” Pfeiffer said. “We have a great ability when they designed the park, it was designed so that everybody could participate in some form or fashion there.”

Good added the park is the first step towards making the parks accessible to all ages and abilities.

Donations will still continue to be accepted going to the park, Good said they will go towards beautifying the park now, such as placing benches and planting new trees as opposed to actually renovating it.
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