PORTAGE | The city will take a second stab at developing Founder's Square Park.
This past week the Redevelopment Commission approved a contract with DLZ of Hammond to complete construction documents for the two-acre site under the water tower just north of Central Avenue.
It's been eight years since the plot of land was given its name. The park came to be as part of the city's downtown redevelopment efforts in 2004. During the ensuing years, trees have been cleared, flag poles and a park bench have been installed and the park has been the site of various community festivals and the city's Community Market.
The 10-foot wide bike paths, elevated pavilion and wrought-iron fence never came, victim of the economic downturn and belt-tightening by the city over the past two administrations.
But Director of Public Works A.J. Monroe — who was the city's planner when the park was first conceived — said the city is going to try again. Still, there's no promise of construction as yet.
The first step, Monroe said, is discussions with Indiana American Water about some property lines around the water tower, possibly altering access to the water tower and the installation of a "nicer fence."
"That will become a trigger as to whether the park becomes a reality," said Monroe.
Plans for the park have been slightly altered since the first set of construction documents were completed in 2006, but there are still plans for walkways, an elevated pavilion, additional trees, a public sculpture garden, fencing, signage and possibly a splash pad.
The commission also approved DLZ providing construction documents which would include a building that would house the equipment necessary for the splash pad. The building, estimated to cost $385,000 itself, would also house public restrooms.
Parks Superintendent Jenny Orsburn said she favored the building because if the park is constructed, it will likely host programs.
"If we are going to have a nice facility, we should make it classy. We've got to get away from the whole port-a-potty thing," said Orsburn.
The contract with DLZ to prepare design and construction documents, including designing the building, is $86,800.