Warsaw Hopes Crowdfunding Will Pay For Alley Project

City of Warsaw will use crowdfunding to help raise funds for its downtown alley activation project proposed for this summer.
Assistant Planner Justin Taylor requested permission Friday from the Board of Public Works and Safety to apply for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s crowd-granting program through Patronicity. He explained that Patronicity is a civic crowdfunding platform designed to help raise funds from the community for local projects.
“If our crowd fund raising goal is met, IHCDA will give a match up to $50,000. If approved, this grant will be used for downtown alley activation projects proposed for this summer,” he said.
Mayor Joe Thallemer said, “This was an opportunity that came up in the fourth quarter last year. Patronicity has worked with the state of Michigan to create public spaces in Michigan’s downtown communities. They basically have this crowdfunding program that engages with support from community members for projects that communities desire.” Thallemer said.
The IHCDA put aside $1 million for helping Indiana communities to create public spaces and is partnering with Patronicity. More information about Patronicity can be found on its website at patronicity.com.
“This goes along with the alley activation that this board approved an encroachment agreement for” with Urban Retrend LLC, Thallemer said.
Urban Retrend, owned by David Gustafson, operates Three Crowns Coffee and Oak & Alley at 114 S. Buffalo St. The encroachment agreement allows Urban Retrend to use the alley between Gustafson’s building and city hall for outdoor dining.
“We kind of looked at that project and listened to our council. They have requested in the past that that space include some public area for seating,” he said. “In fact, in our strategic plan, there’s some comments by council members that they thought we needed some more public spaces for seating and relaxing and public gathering in our downtown.”
He said the city’s been working on creating the alley activation by altering its direction to include two-thirds of it as public space and seating. The activation is temporary as the board approved it for six-months use.
“We are in the process of getting some drawings together that show those changes and the changes requested by the council, changes that we think are important to improving the quality of life in our downtown.
“There will still be a component of our neighboring business who was financially supporting that improvement as well. The time framing hasn’t changed, but the type of project has evolved from being strictly a use of the alley by the merchant to … a good portion of that alleyway is now going to be pure public space, gathering space, potentially with WiFi, a place to sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, to have a sandwich at lunch time. Again, that summer six-month time frame that we set,” Thallemer said.
All the equipment that will be used will be moveable, and the alleyway will be open for that six months.
“This just gives, I think, more of a community feel to that space and the community use of that space in lieu of maybe private use of that public space. I know we’re all supportive of that project, but this I think addresses some of the council’s concern and the downtown demand for more public seating spaces to gather,” Thallemer continued.
If the crowdfunding goal is met, and IHCDA matches it, he said it won’t cost the downtown a nickel.
“It’s a win-win for everyone. Justin has done a great job putting together the plans. I’ve seen a preliminary design board, and it’s fabulous. We’re going to get that out as soon as we can. We’ll start a campaign with the public to let them know where the project’s going and take in their comments,” Thallemer said.
Possibly at the March 6 city council meeting, he said the storyboards will be brought in and public comments will be taken.
The Board of Works approved Taylor to proceed with the crowdfunding grant component. Thallemer said he was “highly” in favor of it and it was almost a “no-brainer.”
In other business, the board approved:
• Road closures for the Fat & Skinny Tire Festival on May 19.
The road closures include, closing 3 p.m. to midnight: Center Street from Lake to High Street, and Indiana and Buffalo streets from Market to Main Street; closing 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.: Market Street from Indiana to Washington Street, a portion of Lake Street at the intersection of Lake and Market streets and Buffalo Street from Market Street to an alley.
The festival is in Warsaw and Winona Lake May 19-21, and presented by the K21 Health Foundation. It includes a bike-to-work day, Winona historical tour, kids activities and road race, circuit road race, BMX stunt shows and more.
• The Husky Trail project notice to proceed for construction engineering services by A&Z Engineering. The agreement was signed in April for $297,597.60 and is an 80/20 match with the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The construction notice to proceed will be authorized by INDOT.
• A memorandum of understanding between the Warsaw Parks Department and the Rotary Club for Rotary Park.
The city has been working with the club for almost two years to establish a trail head park. The memorandum delineates the general provisions the club has requested before it commits $30,000 for the site development.
Under the memorandum, the city will purchase real estate at the corner of Market and West Center streets for the purpose of developing a city park; the club will commit to pay the city $30,000 to be used in development of the new park; the club will have its name and logo in the park; any building placed on the new park will be designed and built by Warsaw with advice from the club; the city will determine the appropriate way to recognize additional donors to the park while recognizing the Rotary Club as the primary donor; and naming rights to the new park belong to the club.
• An agreement between the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and Beers Mallers Backs & Salin LLP for 2017 legal services. The rate of $150 per hour on an as-needed basis and retainer fee of $500 has remained the same. The territory’s attorney is Andrew Grossnickle.
• A proposal by Public Works Superintendent Jeff Beeler to use Precision Concrete Cutting to repair trip hazards in the downtown area.
The proposal is to saw-cut off the raised portion of downtown sidewalks to eliminate the trip hazard. Total cost of the project is $17,697.34.
• A one-year annual service agreement between the Warsaw Police Department and Cardinal Tracking Inc. for TickeTrak software license and customer support for parking control. Annual cost is $1,942.20.