City gets grant for alley project

GREENFIELD — The first visible sign of downtown revitalization will kick off next spring, now that the city of Greenfield has been awarded a state grant to transform a downtown alley into an area for festivals, gatherings and more.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced Wednesday that Greenfield was among 11 Hoosier cities to receive a grant for community improvement projects.

The $44,000 grant will join with local dollars to create the North Street Living Alley, which will add gardens and festival lighting to an alley on North Street just west of State Street.

“It was something a lot of people worked hard for, and it’s pretty exciting,” said Steve Vail, a member of the Greenfield Coalition, which helped secure the grant.

The roughly $111,000 project is the first of two phases.

The entire scope of the project, which runs from North to Main streets, is expected to cost about $270,000.

The first phase, which is funded by the grant announced this week, runs from North Street to the parking lot of the Lincoln Square Pancake House.

The city is contributing $50,000 to the project, while the Hancock County Tourism Commission gave $11,150, and the Hancock County Visitors Bureau chipped in $5,000.

The project is the first of the Greenfield Coalition, a community group that formed to make the city’s downtown revitalization plan a reality.

A top priority of the group is building a Riley Literary Trail, which is loosely based on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis. The alley could be the first step in establishing the trail, which officials hope will run from the Pennsy Trail through downtown.

Currently, the alley is used for parking, and designs include plans to preserve parking spaces. Greenery will be planted to make the space more inviting, and curb bump-outs will be installed on North and Main streets to make crossing the street safer for pedestrians.

Joanie Fitzwater, zoning and planning administrator for Greenfield, said the project will be designed in the coming months with groundbreaking next spring.

She said she’s excited to see the plan come to fruition and credited local partnerships.

“I think plans often end up on the shelf, and something we did different was partner with Greenfield Main Street and start the (Greenfield) Coalition, which is actually an implementation team,” Fitzwater said. “The coalition as a group decided this is something they really wanted to pursue. It’s a great way for the coalition to get some legs underneath them.”

Vail hopes the project will create greater awareness in the community about downtown revitalization.

Other plans for the future of downtown Greenfield include a food district; a health and fitness district; and pedestrian-friendly promenades with mixed uses of residential, retail and commercial space. City officials also hope the facades of downtown buildings will get facelifts through grants.

“We needed something to kind of kick-start it,” Vail said. “I hear a lot (that) we’ve been talking about downtown revitalization forever, and there’s been a lot of great things happen, but this will move it to the next level.”

Shelley Swift agrees. Program manager of Greenfield Main Street, Swift hopes when people see that city and nonprofit officials are committed to improving the downtown district, it will help more projects kick off.

“That’s going to be a real feather in our cap,” she said.

At a glance

The city of Greenfield was among 11 communities to receive a grant this week for a community improvement project. Here’s a look at the grant and upcoming plans:

The roughly $44,000 grant comes through the state’s Place Based Investment Fund, through the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

The grant will be combined with local dollars to create the first phase of the North Street Living Alley, which will create a pedestrian-friendly area with gardens and festival lighting to an alley on North Street just west of State Street. 

The project is the first of many listed in the city’s downtown revitalization plan. Ultimately, city officials hope to create a Riley Literary Trail to run from the Pennsy Trail through downtown Greenfield. The trail would be loosely based on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis.

Other communities to receive funding included Corydon, Evansville, Fountain City, Lafayette, North Manchester, Orleans, Peru, Rushville, Washington and  Winona Lake. Grants ranged from $25,000 to $50,000 to fund parks, public venues and other “quality of place” projects.

Source: Office of Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann