FORTVILLE — Better sidewalks, an enhanced downtown and more trails are coming to Fortville.
This week, the Fortville Town Council announced it received nearly $500,000 in federal funds to put toward community projects that will improve Main Street between Church and Broadway streets with new sidewalks, crosswalks and more trees and to establish trails in town.
In addition to sprucing up downtown, the town plans to build a trail between Mt. Vernon High School and Garden Street and between the high school and Mt. Vernon Middle School to better connect the schools to the community.
The federal money, which the town received through its metropolitan planning organization, covers the engineering phases of the projects. The town will be responsible for paying 20 percent of the $620,500 overall cost, about $124,000.
The engineering phase is the first step in making the projects a reality by finalizing designs so contractors can be hired to do the work, said Joe Renner, town manager.
In 2013, Fortville town officials began working on a comprehensive plan, which serves as a blueprint for the town’s growth, to identify community improvement projects they wanted to see accomplished in coming years.
Last year, the town began applying for federal funding and grants to help pay for the projects. This week’s announcement is welcome news and gives the town the means to start working to achieve its goals, officials said.
The biggest of those projects is to continue revitalizing the downtown area, town manager Joe Renner said. During the past few years, Main Street has really improved and become a busy area of town after years of storefronts sitting vacant, he said.
To continue that success, the town plans to fix sidewalks, which are in disrepair, and crosswalks, making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Officials hope to see more trees and greenery planted and to improve parking in the area, which has become important as Main Street becomes busier.
Revitalizing Main Street is just part of an estimated $6.8 million of projects planned throughout the town for coming years, said Renner; residents can expect to see a variety of construction projects that will create trails and sidewalks during the next five to 10 years.
If federal funding remains available, the town could receive $5.4 million to complete the projects after contributing about $1.4 million of local money, Renner said.
“These projects will increase safety and quality of life for our citizens while improving the aesthetics and the walkability of the community,” he said.
Town council President Bill Hiday agreed, saying the council is eager to get started. He said the clerk-treasurer’s office is working to identify funds that could be used to help pay for the projects.
The projects the town council has prioritized will help make Fortville more accessible, Hiday said. The towns and cities throughout Indiana that are booming all have one thing in common: They’re pedestrian-friendly, he said.
“It’s going to look great,” Hiday said. “There’s nothing but positive that can come out of this.”
Council member Tim Hexamer agreed. He wasn’t on the town council when it adopted the comprehensive plan but said the projects planned will offer a better quality of life to residents.
“It’s going to be a great thing,” he said. “It will make Fortville more family-friendly.”