Town of Bunker Hill

101 West Broadway
Bunker Hill, IN 46914


Bunker Hill revitalization plan revealed

This artist rendering showcases potential plans for the downtown Bunker Hill revitalization project, which includes additional parking as well as green space.

Sarah Stonestreet, Peru Tribune

Members of the Bunker Hill Community and Bunker Hill Town Board gathered for a presentation on the downtown revitalization project, including an initial design of the master plan.

During Thursday's public meeting, the master plan for the design was presented by Alyssa Prazeau and Arthur Malito from Context Landscape Architecture and Rick Rush from Brenner Design. Those attending discussed how to emphasize local businesses and how to bring more into the downtown area, both key aspects of revitalization. Rush focused on potential actions the community could take to bring businesses into the town and to keep them there, citing successful examples from Farmland and Vevay, both small Indiana towns similar to Bunker Hill.

"We have two examples of how we took two downtowns that may have dilapidated buildings and looking for businesses and turned them around," Rush said.

Farmland used the strength of a "local champion" or prominent business to help bring others in. In addition, when a weaker business failed, instead of letting the empty facade stay vacant, the town turned it into a civic center and uses it as a civic theater hub.

Vevay started with mostly vacant downtown buildings and no curb appeal, but after receiving a streetscape grant and using local money for matching grants they focused on capitalizing on its unique features, such as its wine history and influence of local artists. It also used the Internet to increase tourism and created a community newsletter to keep the entire town informed.

"It's not something you have to do," Rush said of the two possible ways to help bring in business. "There's a lot of different things to think about. It's just being open to opportunities."

Some of the assets Bunker Hill has working for it include its historical background, the Nickel Plate Trail, the Cardinal Greenway Trail and its proximity to the Grissom Air Base and to Maconaquah schools.

Rush pointed out that with the strong ties to the two trails, they could reach out to local businesses, especially those nearby without storefronts, and encourage them to come to Bunker Hill.

"I think the town council would be acting as mayors in other towns and would need to be proactive (to invite businesses in)," board member Joan Smith said.

Smith has been at the forefront of the revitalization project. She suggested offering tax abatements to prospective business owners or giving them information on available grants, such as those from the Miami County Economic Development Authority.

Rush then asked for input from those gathered about what they want to see or think needs to be done to help achieve these goals. Smith said that though there is a restaurant, Park Place, she would like to see another one in town as there is no place to go for a sit down meal.

Prazeau and Malito then outlined the master plan, which would include a structure, possibly a clock tower that reflected the design of the old railroad, as a celebrated gateway between the Nickel Plate Trail and future connection to the Cardinal Greenway trail where Railroad Street curved into Broadway Street. The plan also proposed a "pocket park" for bikers on the trail to park their bikes and for people to enjoy the added greenery, which would also include more trees along Broadway Street as well as the entire downtown area.

While discussion is needed with business owners already in town, including the Mini-Mart as it is a staple in the community, Prazeau said the entire project is a puzzle and each piece needs to be examined carefully to create the entire picture.

"We've talked with people in Bunker Hill and they know exactly what that means," she said. She also discussed purchasing the abandoned railroad and creating another trail, connecting it with the school district and possibly even Grissom. Smith pointed out that it would take time to work on purchasing the pieces of property the railroad was divided into when it was abandoned.

"As long as you understand you have that goal (of the downtown revitalization) can look for those opportunities to piecemeal it together," she said.

The master plan also included a new public park, expanded rear parking for the businesses that come to town and a place for product to be delivered, sidewalks at about 10 feet wide, an outdoor restaurant space and a celebrated crossing.

"This looks like the dream that we've had for the last four years," said town board president Shelly Dyer. "This is awesome."

She later said the plan was beautiful and the group had really taken into account the discussions with the community and board.

There were some concerns about the plan, especially when it came to figuring out parking and room for deliveries from vendors for the Mini-Mart. However, Prazeau said they wanted to discuss these issues with the community. Board member Don Jaberg said he had been on the board when the Nickel Plate Trail was starting out and there had been concerns and hesitation then, but "everyone knows what the trail is now" and he believes the same would be true of this project.

"When we started he trial there was a lot of uncertainty," Jaberg said. "You work with what you have and keep moving forward and this is the same."

Another public meeting will be 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Bunker Hill Community Center and another presentation will be 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the community center.

Copyright 2012 Peru Tribune