BSU Proposes Clermont Face Lift

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Photos by Linda Karn

(posted Apr 13)

The Clermont Lions Club Fish Fry offered local residents a chance to see Clermont's potential revitalized future. Ball State University Architecture College was in the midpoint of its April 10-12 Charette that invites the public to share concerns and issues.

BSU Executive Director Scott Truex said approximately 18 students participated by listening to residents concerns and issues and producing a visual concept. Issues of a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere created various illustrations of a pedestrian bridge, a boardwalk bridge, developing trails linking to Eagle Creek Reservoir, and connecting to the B & O Trail .

Truex explained that each community is different. He said that Clermont's Main Street (US 136) is not able to capture motorists passing through it. The students illustrated going across the county line to use the open green space at O'Reilly Raceway Park as a community gathering place through the weekday, since the track mainly holds events on weekends.

He said the town has a strong sense of community pride even though it lacks a high school. Many of the visual concepts concentrated bringing the heart of downtown Clermont into a community and commerce gathering point.

Drawings depicted a baseball field by the open lot at Miller Pipeline, as well as condos, apartments and senior citizen housing. The baseball field could serve as a downtown community gathering point to watch little league games which could lead to players and parents patronizing the coffee shops, farmer's market, and ice cream parlors after the game. Truex said part of the scope of work is to help the town develop an icon or image. BSU faculty member Lohren Deeg sketched a water tower as a coffee pot, brainstorming ideas for a town image. Deeg and Truex tinkered with the slogan of "The coffee is hot and the people are cool."

Ben Thomas said he has participated in about five Charettes. He said they are very intense in the short three days. Truex explained the students drive and walk the community to understand the layout in addition to using aerial maps.

John Lynch made a 3-D model of the proposed transit hub. Truex explained the transit hub is on the line recommended in plans Ball State did for Speedway be extended to Clermont. He said the light rail train can move people from downtown to Clermont in 20 minutes.

Deeg has participated in over 70 Charettes including nine in Australia and New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand invited the team over because they were unfamiliar with the process of involving grass roots efforts . Planning comes from the town with little community involvement. "The Charette was a new experience. They called the process very democratic."

Deeg said that happened in 1997 and 2000 and since then they have lost contact as staffing administration changed over the years.  He was curious to know if they adopted the public process. He has also participated in Charettes in Mitchell, Liberty and Hagerstown, Indiana.

Truex said that often it takes 10 to 15 years for smaller towns to complete the projects. He said he was invited to Nappanee for the dedication of a street scape project that took 15 years to complete. Truex was invited because BSU developed the plans in the Charette. Unfortunately Truex did not make the event because a tornado struck the town a week prior to the dedication, damaging much of the east side.

Truex explained BSU has been assisting communities with architecture renderings for 39 years. He said in 2009 the college of architecture plans to have a 40th anniversary celebration and to invite towns to tell their redevelopment stories.