Stellar Projects are Kicking Off

Stellar Projects are Kicking Off

After months of planning and lots of behind-the-scenes effort, construction is underway on several parts of Indiana’s current Stellar Communities designee projects. Late last year, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (ORCA) announced the selection of the Marshall County Crossroads partnership as the annual designee. The selection is a big deal for local quality-of-life projects, as the designation connects the region to increased levels of funding as part of an effort to boost economic development and investment.


Big Boost for Local Projects

The Stellar Communities Program is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment initiative. The program works in coordination with communities to create regional development plans, promote local and regional partnerships, and implement comprehensive solutions to regional challenges. The program provides resources for community improvements by leveraging existing assets and fostering regional investments.

Unlike previous years that saw multiple regions selected as designees, the program now designates only one region per year with the intent of creating a bigger impact. A majority of the program’s available resources will be allocated to the designated region, and the other non-designated finalist regions are also eligible to receive a portion of $1 million to be used towards the advancement of their regional development plans.

Available funding for the designated region is derived from multiple existing state agency and federal programs. Marshall County Crossroads has proposed projects that will involve both public and private funds.


Marshall County Crossroads 

Marshall County Crossroads is comprised of the Towns of Argos, Bourbon, Bremen, Culver, LaPaz, Plymouth, and Marshall County. Together, they have developed a quality of life plan that envisions Marshall County 20 years from today. Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development assisted the partners with long-term sustainability efforts and project implementation. Each hometown in Marshall County submitted projects that would raise the quality of life for its residents.


First Stellar Projects Get Started

Ground was broken on the first projects by the Marshall County Crossroads community partners just this summer. The town of Argos is focused on two main projects submitted in the Stellar application; the downtown revitalization space and updates to what is currently known as Pond Park. In addition to the projected positive economic impact, the overall intent with both projects is to raise the quality of life for town residents and the guests that visit.

Pond Park project rendering.

In the 11-acre Pond Park project, workers will be adding a gazebo, picnic shelter area, seating, bridge to the small island, restrooms, parking, fishing dock, and small playground equipment. The park updates are expected to be completed later this fall. Previously, the town’s parks board was awarded a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to help fund $500,000 of improvements in the park. This funding is what led the Pond Park project to be chosen as one of the first Stellar plan projects to launch.

For the downtown revitalization project, Argos officials are working to improve the downtown economy by adding some much-needed public space that will be well-suited to host events. The scope of the project involves the transformation of about 1 acre of land that previously contained degraded parking lot areas and a vacant former gas station. Plans call for the creation of a new park with a train depot style building, amphitheater, interactive fountain, farmers market or event space, and parking.

Argos downtown square rendering.

The downtown site has a natural slope that will work well for creating an amphitheater with potential for seating for up to 200 people. The depot building will create a space for historical information and displays, concessions, restrooms, and a space that can be used for activities during events.

Mandy Campbell, one of the Argos representatives on the Stellar regional planning team said, “It is exciting to see all the hard work of many people come to fruition. Ideas developed in our own town hall meetings, presented on the stage at the state house, and now breaking ground is surreal. I’m looking forward to spending time in the new developed spaces in Argos.”


Many More Projects on Deck

The towns involved with the Marshall County Crossroads region have lots of other projects planned, including a downtown streetscape revitalization, community pool, and community center in Bremen, a new theater in Plymouth, wastewater utility projects in Bourbon, housing developments in LaPaz, public transit projects in Marshall County, and quite a few other big plans. With the new support from the Stellar Communities program, residents of the region are going to have a lot of community-focused improvements to look forward to over the next few years that could serve as a great catalyst for continued investment.