Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Greencastle is a contender for Frontier's America's Best Communities recognition

Below is a post authored by Mayor Sue Murray: 

Can you win the “lottery” twice? That’s what folks in Greencastle were wondering as we celebrated our selection as one of the 50 quarter-finalists in Frontier’s America’s Best Communities competition. 

Our earlier “win” came in 2011 when we were awarded the first Stellar Communities grant by the state of Indiana, which has transformed our downtown and forged lasting connections with our community partners. 

That opportunity and this competition offered by Frontier both challenge small communities to work to be their best. Through community engagement and planning we seek to identify our strengths, challenges and opportunities to spawn economic development and to enhance our quality of life.  Here in Greencastle we will be working to identify how we enable and encourage our citizens to maximize their opportunities and sense of wellbeing. 

Community members enjoy the weekly Farmers' Markets on the square in our downtown.
Regardless of the outcome, we relish the chance to bring the community together with the assets we have and to magnify them so that current and potential community members see Greencastle as a place for them and their families to thrive. 

Thank you Frontier for putting out the challenge and for giving us the resources to continue to dream and plan for our future.

Greencastle youth enjoy the opening of our city's splash park.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Meet at the Market

Greencastle Farmer's Market (photo courtesy of Facebook)

The Greencastle Farmer’s Market is the place to be on Saturday mornings.  Each week, from 8 a.m. to Noon, you can find some of Central Indiana’s finest produce and handmade goods right here in our downtown.

To learn more about the market and what's available each week, visit their Facebook page. 

A young market-goer at Kids Day (photo courtesy of Facebook)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State of the City 2014

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray

I sat down to reflect on the State of the City of Greencastle as we move into 2014 and realized that it didn’t take us more than 5 days to know what one of “the” stories of the year will be:  12 inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures that  virtually shut down the city.  It is my sincere hope that these days are not indicative of the next 360.

After the last twelve months, I am once again, pleased to report that the fiscal state of our community ended the year in a sound position.  All city departments finished the year within their projected budgets and revenues did indeed cover expenses.  We also saw the significant investment of $20.9 million in equipment and renovations at our local industries, increasing the overall assessed value in the city, which does affect the bottom line for each of us.  This good news is something we don’t take lightly.  We are all watching with angst a proposed legislative initiative that would reduce or eliminate business personal property tax. That kind of action could mean a 21% reduction in city tax revenues and an even larger percentage decrease for our schools.  Budget challenges for cities, towns and schools throughout Indiana are going to continue.  Greencastle,  in 2014, will be tested because of the filing error in our public notifications of our proposed budget, legislative changes aside.

We cannot reflect on 2013 without discussion of the horrific fire on May 17th that dramatically affected a south side block in our historic downtown.   We saw families displaced, businesses ruined and buildings gutted.  Without the quick response of the Greencastle Fire Department and the aide of 16  fire companies, the tragedy could have been worse.  At this time I am pleased to report that because of the courage and commitment of the property owners involved, reconstruction is underway and we will all watch with great excitement the re-opening of those businesses and buildings. 

Much of 2013 also was spent in anticipated construction also.  Significant road work was done on Indianapolis Road, Edgewood Lake Road, and numerous resurfacing projects.  Work was completed on the Albin Pond dam rehabilitation,  the new Zinc Mill lift station and some $100,000 in sidewalk initiatives.  Of course there are the Stellar projects:  façade work, Washington Street, Owner Occupied Rehabilitation and parking solutions. We will also be adding Indiana Street reconstruction, 2nd floor loft development, a second round of downtown façades and Owner Occupied Rehab to the list in 2014.

People often ask, “What is going to happen after the Stellar construction is over?”  I am pleased to report the community has been planning and individuals and organizations are helping to move us forward.  We had a very successful two day CommunityForward Summit that has helped to target direction and identify people interested in “rolling up their sleeves”.  A new group has reconstituted our Main Street organization, and they have exciting plans for the future.  Our Farmers’ Market continues to be the “place to be” on Saturday mornings. The Zinc Mill Terrace and Milestone Phase II apartments have added significantly to our housing options. The Civic League has successfully taken on the raising of resources to match a new Land and Water Conservation Grant that will build a splash park at Robe Ann Park.  New businesses have opened and what is not to love about Myers Market, Charlie’s, Dairy Queen and Wyn Way?   And we have just begun.

Our community has maintained a most wonderful music scene thanks to individual artists who generously share their talents, the Great Artists series and the work of Mark McCoy and the DePauw School of Music, Tuesday night Park-Fest series (thanks again to the Civic League), exceptional music on Wednesday’s at Gobin (organized for the last ten years by Eric Edberg) and the Crown Street Jazz festival. We can’t forget the Putnam County Playhouse productions, our local community school performances, as well as those at the Green Center throughout the year. 

I would be remiss not to also reflect on the dedication of the individuals in our community who spent the year determined to “make a dent” in poverty, house the homeless, and find a permanent solution that will allow for the re-opening of the Humane Society.  Your work help makes our community a better place. 

Finally, I want to thank the very dedicated people who work for the City of Greencastle.  You take great pride in what you do and you selflessly give of your time and talents to keep us safe, to keep us moving, to provide recreation, utilities, support and order, and a final resting place.  I couldn’t be more proud to have the privilege of working with this group of people.    As we enter 2014 I remain confident that we will be able to deal with the challenges ahead: things like unfunded mandates from the Department of Environmental Management; unexpected weather surprises; construction chaos; funding concerns and the increasing challenge of providing services to our 10,000 residents.  

As we begin 2014, Greencastle does remain: a great place for work, for growth and for life.       

Monday, August 5, 2013

Community Garden: Lush and Fuller Than Ever

Guest post provided by Bruce Sanders, primary manager of the Greencastle Community Garden

Remember when we introduced you to the Greencastle Community Garden, back in 2011?  This is what it looked like then:

Today, this is our community garden:

Clearly, we’ve made a lot of progress in a short period of time. 

This year, we had an incredible 27 plots available for renting – and that includes 8 new ones, thanks to the hard work of DePauw Bonner Scholar Michael Verbeek.  All of the plots were claimed for 2013 and most of the owners from last year re-upped; some opted to buy more than one.  We even have a waiting list for next year!

Coaches and members of the Greencastle High School boys’ soccer team were extremely helpful in the spring, filling in new plots with compost and mulching the areas between the plots.  The City of Greencastle has continued to be a great partner in our efforts, donating the leaves that were used as mulch back in the fall.  Greencastle also provided the picnic table that sits outside the northeast corner of the garden, in the shade.

First-time bloomers this spring included irises that Karen Mortoglio obtained and we planted along the western edge of the garden.  Today, we’re seeing squash, watermelons, beans, snow peas, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and herbs.  One renter has strawberries on their mind.

The garden plots are truly lush today, as the compost has turned into very fertile soil.  Two water barrels are available so people can water their plots as necessary.

All in all, it looks like it is going to be a very bountiful year for the Greencastle Community Garden!

Monday, June 10, 2013

City Streets Slated for Improvements

A number of Greencastle streets are slated for improvements during the summer construction season.  Beginning Wednesday, June 12, the following streets will be milled and paved.  Please be aware that the schedule may be adjusted for weather or other delays. 

Wednesday, June 12:
East Walnut (dead end) possible

Thursday, June 14:
East Walnut(s)


Friday, June 15
East Walnuts

Monday, June 17

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we continue to improve our city streets!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Highlighting Three Historic Districts in Greencastle

As we close out May, which is National Historic Preservation Month, here’s another guest blog post submitted by Phil Gick from the Heritage Preservation Society (HPS) of Putnam County.  HPS works to promote and encourage interest in the historic structures, history and heritage of the county, as well as facilitate the identification, preservation and restoration of the area’s structural heritage. 

The City of Greencastle’s architecture reflects over 175 years of changing American and Midwestern patterns, with ready evidence of general prosperity, cultural attainment and imaginative design from the early pioneer cabin to the new facilities at DePauw. 

Recently, the Heritage Preservation Society completed walking brochures (pictured) that highlight this architecture in three of the city’s Historic Districts that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  These districts contain over 400 structures that contribute to their historic beauty, and each of the areas have clear, recognizable themes or “settings” that convey the cultural landscapes of their times. 

The Northwood Historic District, with its collection of early to mid-20th century residential resources, and extremely high degree of integrity, provides a window into the period immediately following World War I through the period immediately following World War II.  It beckons you to a time you can only read about in history books now – a time of American innocence.  Driving through the area can be very nostalgic, particularly to those of the “greatest generation” and their children. 

The Eastern Enlargement Historic District, with its large stock of late-19th to early 20th century residences, also retains a lot of integrity.  In this district, one can see a wide variety of American architectural styles featured in mansions and small cottages.  This area is still “home” to many of the most prominent residences built in the community during any era.  Beautifully shaded East Washington, Seminary, Anderson and Bloomington streets lead to the homes of the most prosperous Greencastle citizens of the late-19th and early 20th centuries.  The substantial number of “high society” Italianate, Queen Anne, Tudor Gothic Revival and Eastlake structures convey the feel of a quintessential “turn of the century” affluent neighborhood. 

As you travel through this district on Seminary Street – the residential “main street” – you will see multiple National Register-listed structures, such as the stately Franklin P. Nelson House and the University President’s official residence, the Elms.  Walk across the district via almost any route and you will fully appreciate the large collection of beautiful turn of the century homes within its footprint.  

While majestic homes certainly draw significant attention, it’s important to remember that Greencastle began as a small and humble pioneer village.   
Of course, as the seat of county government and home to a college, its population soon grew.  From an early time, stores, shops and mills were located around or near the square, and the area to the west was where homes sprung up.   This is what comprises the residential area now known as the Old Greencastle Historic District.  Here, Carpenter-Builder style homes, with a significant complement of Stick and Bungalow structures, dominate.  They speak to the modest means of the city’s early businessmen and workers. 

The character and visual elements of these historic residential districts have not changed dramatically from their original settings.  During the summer months, when trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the university is on summer schedule, a walk along many of these districts’ streets quickly returns you to a time when homeowners cut their grass with push lawnmowers…when cars with loud blaring music did not travel the thoroughfares…and when sitting on your front porch, with a radio tuned to a baseball game, was still THE thing to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The Old Greencastle, Eastern Enlargement and Northwood Historic Districts are special – they’re an architectural road map of the community’s existence.  They’re a symbol of the past, but also reflect the pride of the present owners who have taken up the mantle of preserving the physical and visible images of these beautiful places.

What is your favorite historic building or area in Greencastle?  Let us know in the comments below!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Celebrating a Historic Treasure in Greencastle

Below is a guest post written in honor of National Historic Preservation Month by Phil Gick, chair of the Historic Assets Committee of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Heritage Preservation Society (HPS) of Putnam County, our purpose is to promote and encourage interest in the historic structures, history and heritage of the county, as well as facilitate the identification, preservation and restoration of our area’s structural heritage. 

A great example of our recent work is the ongoing effort to restore the Putnam County Civil War Monument (CWM) in Forest Hill Cemetery.  We were first drawn to this beautiful memorial in the fall of 2011, when we noticed its deteriorated state while planning tours of the cemetery.

Over the past year and a half, HPS, in conjunction with others within the county, has taken steps to raise awareness of the history of the monument, along with funds to enable the community to assess, stabilize and restore it. 

In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, I’d like to share a little about the fascinating history of this structure:

In 1865, shortly after the Civil War, the Putnam County Soldiers Monument Association was formed, with the goal of building a monument to honor their local war heroes. By the spring of 1866, $5,000 was raised and a contract with T.D. Jones & Co. of Cincinnati was signed.  The proposed location would be the new Forest Hill Cemetery, and the design would be a statue that featured a figure atop a rather large pedestal. 

In 1867, McConnell & O’Hare of Cincinnati erected the shaft.  In 1869, O’Hare & Barry, who cut the soldier figure, saw to its installation atop the pedestal. 

On July 2, 1870, a crowd of 8,000 gathered in Peck’s Grove, a large group of trees to the east of the monument near Bloomington St., for the dedication of the nearly 30-foot tall monument.  Special trains, bringing guests from near and far, arrived from Terre Haute and Indianapolis.  Rev. Dr. Thomas Bowman of Indiana AsburyUniversity (now DePauw) offered the opening prayer.  One of the state’s best orators, Col. R. W. Thompson delivered the principal address.  General Lew Wallace of Crawfordsville, author of Ben Hur, spoke. 

Following the addresses, the crowd marched to the monument led by Indianapolis and Greencastle brass bands.  In front of the still-veiled statue, the dedication continued.  Veterans of the war, bearing their tattered regimental flags, encircled the platform, while Indiana’s governor and other important “VIPs” and clergy occupied a portion of the platform for the final ceremonial moments prior to the unveiling.

After its dedication, the monument remained a central element of memorial events conducted annually.  But over time, as the generation of those it commemorated passed, such activities tended to gravitate to the Court House Square, where new monuments to those who perished in subsequent conflicts were erected.

Many things make the Putnam County CWM special.  For example, it is only the third such monument of its kind erected in Indiana.  Unlike most, it depicts the “common” soldier; he is seated and looking to the West.  It is larger than most monuments and it was placed in a cemetery, instead of a central site, such as a downtown square. 

The CWM still conveys to those who see it the high esteem those within a small Midwestern community held the 321 fellow citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice.  It represents so much about not only the past, but of the spirit and patriotism of today’s citizens.  Hopefully these citizens will ensure the CWM continues to inspire future generations.

To make a donation toward the CWM restoration effort, please contact the Putnam County Community Foundation where HPS has established a Civil War Monument account.