Culver Stellar Update

Last Thursday I traveled to Carmel with a contingency from Culver (Ginny Munroe, Jonathan Leist, Anna Campbell and Mike Reese) to attend an information seminar on the 2017 Stellar Communities program. The meeting was hosted by Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA) at their facility.

The meeting consisted of presentations by all the participating agencies, most of which are represented on the graphic to the right. The big three in this group for Culver are Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA), and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). But in saying that, that is where we concentrated efforts last year, and hearing some of the presentations from other service providers there, we found that there are additional programs we should be considering.  This was further emphasized in the breakout session where we were able to talk to representatives from each group and find out specifics on what programs might apply to Culver. We received a lot of encouragement from the people at the Arts Commission (IAC), Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and even the Indiana Bond Bank (IBB).

The Stellar Communities presentation underway at IMPA in Carmel

The agencies involved continue to go out of their way to emphasize that this is not a grant program. This is a program to accelerate initiatives that are already underway in the community. Three of last year’s projects, Sand Hill Farm Housing Development, the Community Bike/Pedestrian Trail and the improvements to the Beach Lodge/Park, are moving forward as we speak. To paraphase Jennifer Vandeburg, our OCRA Community Liaison, “Stellar Communities is designed to be nitrous in your community gas tank, giving that boost to allow projects with a 8-10 year horizon to accelerate to completion in 3-4 years.”

Jonathan Leist, Town Manager, recently reported that over 125 community members responded to the Stellar Survey he sent out. The survey was designed to assess whether the Stellar Committee was still on track. It also include a few additional projects to consider. While this is a good response, more is needed. One of the things we will be graded on is community participation and support.

Sand Hill Farm Preliminary Plan

Part of this community support is making sure that Culver’s various boards and commissions are behind this effort. The two major players in this field will be the Town Council (Ginny Munroe, Sally Ricciardi, Dave Beggs, Joel Samuelson, Tammy Shaffer and Town Clerk, Karen Heim) and the Redevelopment Commission (Brandon Cooper, Sue McInturff, Tammy Shaffer, Rich West, Tom Yuhas). Be sure and encourage any members of those two entities to get behind this effort. Go out of your way to do so! That doesn’t mean that many of the other boards and commission won’t play a role. Please also encourage the members of the Plan Commission, BZA, Tree Commission, etc. to do their part to support the effort. They all need to hear that the community is behind this.

Even if we don’t get Stellar this year (I hate to even say that!), the effort has no doubt been time and money well spent. Everyone we spoke to made mention of remembering our community and the golf cart tour. The golf cart I drove had two representatives from IHCDA, both of whom recognized me and spent extra time talking to me about our housing project. The representatives from DNR have now actually walked and ridden on part of our pedestrian trail, so when the plans┬ácomes before them, they can visualize the potential. The representatives from INDOT have actually ridden down Jefferson Street and understand the improvement needs. The representatives from the Arts Commission, having seen our Town, made specific suggestions on what they could do to help. I truly believe that our OCRA Community Liaison now is invested in seeing us succeed, where before we were just another one of many communities in her territory. As our President would say, “This is HUGE!” We have made great strides in building relationships that will pay off in the future. Go Stellar!

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