Logansport “Reaching for the Brass Ring”

Next month, the City of Logansport, in partnership with Logan’s Landing, plans to apply for two grants. If Logansport is selected, the grants could inject millions of dollars into the city’s downtown.

A committee has been meeting since August to organize the visions outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan, completed in 2009, and Logan’s Landing’s downtown revitalization plan, completed in 2010, into a workplan.

Logansport applied for the Stellar Communities designation in 2012 and their experiences with that process led them to narrow their focus and try again this year. America’s Best Communities, co-sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network and Co-Bank is a pilot project to help spur economic growth and community revitalization.

Last week, representatives from the committee made presentations at Rotary, Kiwanis and on Talk of the Town on WSAL. There was also a public meeting Monday, Feb. 9 in the city council chambers.

For the last few years, there’s been a heavy emphasis on creating an arts district in downtown Logansport. Funds raised by the “Dancing with our Stars” event helped purchase public art, including “The Dancers” sculpture on Market Street. Pocket parks have been installed on both Market and Broadway, and signage for the LoLa Arts District was installed.

Now, the committee is focusing heavily on Fourth Street, specifically creating a civic center that could host large groups for weddings, conferences and other functions. They’d like to see more parking in the area, where visitors to the Cass County Government Building often circle the block several times to find a parking space. They also envision a fixed-route bus system, like Kokomo’s trolleys which saw a 35% increase in ridership last year.

The piece of the project that has generated the most conversation among residents, however, is the idea of moving the Cass County Carousel downtown. Planning director Arin Shaver says the carousel’s current location, Riverside Park, is in a floodplain and that the proposed location downtown is no longer in a floodplain, after recent revisions at the federal level to the floodplain maps. Brent Mather, with R&B Architects, is a consultant for the project and said the current location limits the availability of federal and state grants for further improvements to the carousel or its facility.

Plus, Shaver says, the carousel is a large part of the city’s identity, and is also a piece of art itself.

Members of the committee, who include Shaver, community development director Chris Armstrong, Logan’s Landing executive director Becki Harris, councilman & Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Bob Bishop, arts advocate Pam Leeman, among others, plan to host another meeting for the public to learn more on March 9.

Letters of intent for both Stellar Communities and America’s Best Communities are due in March. If the city is selected for the first round of funding for America’s Best Communities, the city council has approved $15,000 in matching funds that will be placed in an account through the Cass County Community Foundation.

Logan’s Landing and the City of Logansport invite residents to participate in a survey about the downtown or to share their thoughts via e-mail at stellarlogansport@cityoflogansport.org. More information about the next public meeting will be released at a later date, and a PDF of the Feb. 9 presentation is available on Logan’s Landing’s website.