MCEDC Culver Editorial

Nancy Tyree
with Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) did a great article for the Pilot News that gives an update on the progress in Culver. It appeared in the December 12, 2016 addition of the paper. This is the second in a series that MCEDC is doing on all the communities in Marshall County. The first one on Argos appeared last month.  For those of you that don’t get the Pilot, I’ve reprinted the Culver article below.

This is one of the things MCEDC is doing to help promote the communities. We hope to put this out in other formats in the near future as a snapshot of what is happening in our communities. This should be useful to companies considering relocating to Culver and Marshall County. It gives you the flavor of the community and lets you know that things are happening here! Feel free to give Nancy feedback at:


Home to the second largest natural lake in Indiana and a private boarding school with national acclaim, it’s easy to view Culver as a resort town. But for the people who live there, it’s not a vacation spot—it’s a home, and they’re dedicated to the Town’s preservation and growth. Town Council President, Ginny Munroe describes Culver as, “a community of planners,” stating, “we have a track record of success with community involvement and thrive on taking on projects—no challenge is too big.” Town Council member Tammy Shaffer agrees, “Every project we take on has sustainability in mind. That’s what’s going to keep our small Town thriving.” Culver business owner and Marshall County Economic Development Corporation Board member, Kevin Berger, adds, “Our comprehensive plan, Stellar proposal, and housing development are all community-based collaborations.” It is no surprise then, what this collaborative, planning community has achieved in the last few years.

Comprehensive Plan

As a community of planners, the dedication that Culver has put into the creation and implementation of their comprehensive plan has been no surprise. In 2013, the Town began a year-long process to create a plan that would guide development for the next 20 years. The steering committee utilized a professional consulting firm to create the document that gave a fresh perspective on the Town. The process was also community-based from start to finish, resulting in a collective vision with input from residents, businesses, and a variety of community groups.

The plan was adopted in August 2014, but that was just the beginning. Town Manager Jonathan Leist shares, “We didn’t want our comprehensive plan to sit on a shelf and collect dust, we wanted to put it into action.” So last year the Town developed a Capital Improvement Plan to match infrastructure needs with capital investment and a 5-year action plan to implement the ideas presented in the comprehensive plan. The action plan committee has already started to complete short term goals from that plan including selecting a site for a new housing development and financing a bike and pedestrian trail plan for Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee. When Culver began the application process for Stellar Communities, they found that the goals of their 5-year plan were a perfect starting point. In fact, most of Culver’s proposed Stellar projects come straight from their comprehensive and 5-year action plans.


Stellar Communities, a planning program managed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), offers winning communities the cooperation of various state agencies in implementing a long-term comprehensive plan. When Culver was named a finalist in February 2016, Stellar committee members went door-to-door, held public forum meetings, and even put on a Stellar Fest. These events served as a positive way to communicate their plans to the community and generate support for Stellar projects. That dedication payed off as the community rallied around Stellar projects in unprecedented ways. “It was great to see that community support,” says Leist. “Normally people call the office with complaints, but for Stellar they called asking how to help! It felt like we were doing something right.”

A few months ago the Town learned that they had not won Stellar designation. Despite this setback, Culver leadership believes the application process created a good atmosphere for implementing their comprehensive plan, working together, and maximizing assets. Being named a finalist puts Culver in a good position for receiving the designation in the future. The Town has already met with State officials to get feedback on their proposal, which they will use to strengthen their application next year. Through this process, Culver has come together and organized an effort to promote population growth, enhance quality of life, and encourage new residential and commercial development.


Over the last few years, the Town has completed several infrastructure projects totaling over $5 million in capital investment. A $2.1 million storm water improvement project saw the installation of a new storm sewer system on Lakeshore Drive, which has decreased street flooding. Just to the east, the town also constructed a new water tower and at the other end of town, a new water plant has been built at a combined $2.6 million capital investment. The previous water plant was 50 years old, with an operational life expectancy of 40 years, making a new plant a priority. OCRA provided funding for both of these projects through a $400,000 grant last year. Thanks to that funding, Culver was able to take on many high-cost projects at once without significantly increasing taxes or water rates. The Town has also invested about $800,000 to install vintage lighting and brick stamped concrete crosswalks throughout the town to highlight its rich history and beauty. These projects will be of great benefit to Culver residents and businesses for years to come.


Improving variety in housing options has been a top priority for Culver over the past few years. Rising costs for properties surrounding Lake Max have made it more difficult for young, full-time workers at local businesses such as Elkay, Culver Academies, and Culver Community Schools to find housing. Therefore, a vital component of Culver’s comprehensive and Stellar application plans involved addressing that need. The Town recently finalized the annexation of 13.6 acres of land for a new housing development, and the Culver Redevelopment Commission approved a resolution for funding $200,000 to extend water and sewer to the property. Culver’s workforce housing project is community-based with a great deal of input from residents, schools, local businesses, and the Town Council.

Quality of Life

With these necessary infrastructure issues addressed, Culver is now focused on quality of life enhancing projects that will aid population growth in the long term. The biggest attribute to living in Culver is the beauty of Lake Maxinkuckee. In the last decade, the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council has created and implemented their Lake and Watershed Management Plan, worked to clean the water, made inroads with homeowners and farmers to stop chemical contamination, and created educational programs aimed at preservation awareness. According to Berger, “the lake is cleaner and clearer now than it has been in years.”

2 years ago, the Culver Redevelopment Commission allocated $10,000 for a façade improvement program to invest back into commercial properties by revitalizing their exteriors. As word got out, the program continued to grow and was extended for a second year. Other quality of life projects include the Lake Maxinkuckee Bike and Pedestrian Trail project which recently received funding approval from the Regional Development Authority under the Regional Cities grant. Finally, the Town is getting close to achieving Main Street certification, after establishing a board of directors composed of 16 community members. All of these efforts are aimed at encouraging downtown and lakeside activity, enhancing the Town’s beauty, and making Culver a better place to live.

What’s next?

So what does the future hold for Culver? A top priority is continuing to implement the projects outlined in their Stellar proposal and gearing up for next year’s application. Some of those projects included the previously mentioned housing development, a bike and pedestrian trail around Lake Max, renovation of the beach lodge, and a Gateway Project for West Jefferson Street. Promoting the Town is also a big concern. Shaffer would like to see Culver become, “more present throughout the State so we can let people know we’re here and raise awareness about all the great things we’re doing.” According to Munroe, “We can’t continue to be the ‘best kept secret’ in Indiana. What makes Culver special is not a secret to us, we need to share that with everyone else.”


Reprinted with permission

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