DYER | From achieving status as a Tree City U.S.A., to constructing a grass-covered soccer field parking lot that drains water better than an impervious surface could, Dyer continues to make strides to become a "green" community.
Interim Town Manager Rick Eberly said a part-time administrative assistant who once worked as an intern for Dyer also writes grant requests on behalf of the community. Among the grants that Lindsay Grove applied for this year is a $30,000 grant through the Lake Michigan Coastal Grant Program. If Dyer receives it, the grant will pay for an environmental assessment of Pheasant Hills Pond.
"The goal is to clean it up for more recreational purposes," Eberly said. "The grant will fund the study to find out how to make it usable. We're making a conscious effort there."
The town also has been awarded a grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to help become a CLEAN community. CLEAN is the Indiana Comprehensive Local Environmental Action Network. As part of that program, the town identified five environmental goals, such as recycling fluorescent lights.
The environmental push comes as Dyer marked its 100-year anniversary in 2010.
Eberly, who grew up in Dyer, said the town should surpass the 16,000 population mark once the 2010 census is certified, but land-wise, the area has not grown much since the 1960s.
"Even though it's a lot bigger, I think Dyer still has a small-town feel to it," he said.
Dyer has its share of national chains, such as Walgreens, Subway and Chili's, but many independent restaurants and small shops help Dyer maintain its small-town atmosphere.
"We have a number of small mom-and-pop type businesses that help foster that feeling," Eberly said.
Gathering places, such as parks, also provide a small-town feel.
Park improvements and expansions are in store for 2011, and Eberly said he hopes they're as successful as recent Dyer park upgrades, such as the construction of a skate park in Pheasant Hills Park. The skate park opened less than two years ago and is a big draw.
"That is a popular amenity," Eberly said. "It's amazing how many kids are using that."
In the same park, a new pavilion and parking area opened in 2010, becoming a well-used facility for gatherings.
Another facility seeing more use is the Plum Creek Center. The space, located behind Town Hall, was used as storage for years but opened less than two years ago as a usable meeting space. The center can be rented throughout the year for meetings and receptions, but it largely serves the Parks Department, Eberly said.
"I think that building is going to more than pay for itself," he said.