HOBART — City officials believe they have made Hobart a community of choice by preserving the municipality's history and building for the future.
“We are an old community that's still young at heart,” said Bob Fulton, assistant to Mayor Brian Snedecor.
Lake George, the iconic Brickie Bowl and the historic downtown are among the sites that have strong ties to residents' pasts.
As city officials work to keep that history alive, they also have focused on infrastructure improvements and other projects to bring more growth to the community.
“We have new businesses and people every day,” Fulton said.
One of the major focuses of the city has been its lakefront.
Right on Lake George is Festival Park, which has been a popular destination because of its setting and the numerous free activities Hobart offers there.
“Our park in the summertime is an exciting place to be,” Fulton said.
The city is in the process of making the lake more accessible for boaters, and the upcoming Third Street bridge project will play a role in that.
A main goal of the replacement will be to address flooding issues, but the new structure also will increase clearance for boaters.
Under the current structure, it's “difficult to get through with anything other than a canoe,” Fulton said.
There will be eight feet of headroom when the new bridge is finished.
Nikki Lopez, Hobart's events director, said increased access to Lake George has been desired by residents who live on the water there.
Work for the multimillion-dollar bridge replacement project could get underway in April. It will remain closed to traffic until July of 2020, Fulton said.
In addition to the lake, Hobart has been steadily investing in the Brickie Bowl since the city acquired the site in 2013. Bleachers were replaced, ramps were added to make the facility ADA-accessible, and concrete work has been done.
Hobart has long planned for the site to serve as a venue for events and for recreational purposes.
Lopez said the city is ready to see the facility used at its full potential when the Hometown Country Jam takes place June 1 at the Brickie Bowl.
Flight Levelz Entertainment is organizing the daylong festival, which will be headlined by Montgomery Gentry featuring Eddie Montgomery.
Lopez said Hobart has many other plans for the Brickie Bowl, and the city will bring its summertime movies in the park program to the site.
Lopez said movies in the park have been centered films for young families, but the city is taking a different approach for the screening that will take place at the Brickie Bowl.
She said Hobart will have it first Brews and Views program there, and it will be open to those 21 and older. The event will feature a beer garden and a double feature.
The date of the program hasn't been set. Lopez said films that will be screened could be “The Big Lebowski” and “Rudy.”
Hobart's downtown area also has received numerous enhancements over the years, including a streetscape project.
The attention to that area of the city has produced growth there and increased visitors.
Lopez said the Montego Bay Grille, Librarium Cafe and the Hobart Art Theatre are among popular destinations in the downtown.
In addition to the many offerings in the city, Hobart's location is also what makes the community stand out, Lopez said.
Its close proximity to major highways has brought in many residents and businesses.
Lopez said the NorthWind Crossings business park, which is south of 61st Avenue and near Interstate 65, has been extremely successful, and she believes the location has played a large role in that.
Wynright Corp. is creating a new 320,400-square-foot industrial building there. The provider of intelligent material handling systems is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the community.
Hobart was once viewed as a bedroom community. Lopez said efforts made by the city's administration to bring growth have made Hobart a place where people can live, work and play.
“People want to be here,” Lopez said.