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Thomas Centennial Park in Chesterton.

CHESTERTON — Thomas Centennial Park could soon have new public restrooms and community space as a result of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign, sponsored by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and offered through the crowdfunding platform developed by Patronicity, is managed by the town of Chesterton.

"Placemaking takes on a number of different forms," said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch.

"But the fundamental purpose of placemaking is to take existing assets within the community and make them places where people want to be. Taking an old rail car and transforming it into a much needed public amenity is a very creative idea."

If the campaign reaches its $31,000 goal by April 20, the project will receive a matching grant of $31,000 from IHCDA's CreatINg Places program. To donate, visit!/

The project calls for Chesterton to turn a rail car into public bathrooms at the park and a 1950s caboose into a cooling/warming station and activity car, according to IHCDA.

The town also hopes to install a drinking fountain, landscaping, security lighting and video cameras around the rail cars. Both cars will be placed adjacent to the historic train depot located within the park.

"This project will provide a much needed amenity in the heart of Chesterton’s historic downtown, and will enhance the use of Thomas Centennial Park," said Chesterton Park Board member Candy Tucker.

"We hope that the community agrees and supports the town’s efforts to make these thoughtfully designed rail cars comfortable, clean and accessible."

Since the CreatINg Places program began last fall, projects have raised in excess of $1.2 million in public funds and an additional $991,500 in matching IHCDA funds.

The CreatINg Places program is available to projects located in Indiana communities. Nonprofit entities and local units of government are eligible to apply.

Eligible projects must have a minimum total development cost of $10,000, where the recipient will receive $5,000 in IHCDA matching funds should they successfully raise $5,000 through Patronicity. IHCDA will provide matching grant funds up to $50,000 per project.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.