City shows support of new housing, repairs

Rendering provided.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Officials have been working to keep residential work progressing in the city.

The Huntingburg Common Council approved an agreement Tuesday evening for contributing to the Chestnut Gardens project.

Chestnut Gardens is a collaboration between developer Ruger Kerstiens and Scott Steinkamp of S&S Properties to construct 12 duplexes on the west side of North Chestnut Street between 17th and 19th streets. The duplexes will be located next to an assisted-living facility that Kerstiens will also build for a private operator.

“The agreement provides a way for the city to contribute to help reduce the development costs,” Mayor Denny Spinner said, “and allow the project to move forward.”

In the agreement, the city will contribute up to $70,000 for the street construction. And city workers will help with road work and utility installations for the project.

“The investments that we’re making in these areas are all investments in assets that we as the City of Huntingburg will own at the completion of the project,” Spinner said. “There will be a return on the investment.”

In return, the developer is committed to investing $5 million into Chestnut Gardens, Spinner said.

Each duplex in Chestnut Gardens will be about 1,300 square feet, and ADA-compliant to accommodate things like wheelchairs and walkers. They will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a back patio and a two-car garage. Construction will start in the fall, Kerstiens told the council Tuesday.

The duplexes will be geared to the 55-and-older community.“I myself have had four or five individuals come to my office and say that we really need housing of this type in Huntingburg,” Spinner said, “because they’re residents who want to stay in Huntingburg.” Kerstiens said that he has also received several calls inquiring about the housing.

As part of the ongoing owner-occupied housing program, work on two houses was completed and work on another home was almost done before the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority suspended the program due to COVID-19.

“It’s not like it’s gone, it’s just that contractors can’t work,” said Jenny Dearwester of the Southern Indiana Development Commission.

The housing authority has not yet inspected the two completed homes due to the virus, she told the council.

The Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program helps homeowners by providing financial assistance to make repairs to their homes that are needed for health and safety reasons. The Southern Indiana Development Commission is administering Huntingburg’s program, which targets low-income households. The city received a $350,000 grant from the authority to make repairs on 14 homes; the city appropriated an additional $39,000 for the repairs.

Homeowners applied for the program locally, and 14 homes were selected. Repairs for 11 houses are under contract. The council opened bids Tuesday for the remaining three houses; those bids are being reviewed.

Dearwester is in constant contact with the housing authority about the status of the program. “As of last week,” she said, “they were still holding by the suspension until the state reaches Stage 5.” The state agency will review the situation again after Labor Day, she said.

In the meantime, she has been keeping homeowners aware of the situation. “I’m telling everyone to have some patience,” Dearwester said.

Because of the current situation, the housing authority approved an extension for the completion of work to Dec. 17, 2021.

The council also:

  • Acknowledged its role as the fiscal body for the Huntingburg Public Library, which means that it will review the library’s budget when required.
  • Gave Utility Superintendent John Reutepohler permission to purchase a wood chipper from Bobcat of St. Louis for $34,415.35.
  • Approved change orders for the ongoing water improvements project.
  • Agreed to move forward in a grant process with Radius Indiana to get funding for a future vehicle charging station. Radius Indiana is the regional economic development group serving Dubois and seven other
  • counties.



More on DuboisCountyHerald.com