Survey, workshops to help plan downtown’s future

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — With planning in full swing for Jasper’s next comprehensive plan, residents now have another way to voice their opinions on what the future of the city’s downtown should be.

The Jasper Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that the National Main Street Center and Indiana Main Street Center will be in Jasper in early December for a transformational strategies workshop that will focus on planning the future of the city’s downtown.

Before the workshop, those living in the community are urged to complete a brief, confidential online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/S2ZHDPX. The survey deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“They just really want to know what people like about the downtown currently as it is, and really what they’d like to see downtown become into the future,” said Nancy Eckerle, executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce.

The Main Street Center revitalizes older and historic commercial districts to build vibrant neighborhoods and thriving economies.

Eckerle said Jasper was one of only a handful of communities in Indiana selected to be part of the economic development strategy workshops led by the entities. The local workshop will take place on Dec. 3 at a location and time that have yet to be determined.

The survey and workshop are a way for public leadership and businesses to get an idea of what is working, and what could work in the years to come.

Eckerle said the economic strategy that the survey and workshop yields will tie into the downtown element of the city’s comprehensive plan, which is currently being developed. The Main Street Center planning could lead to grants in the future, she said.

“But we first have to decide what we want to do and what our priorities are, and then seek out those grants,” Eckerle explained.

Jasper currently has a downtown and riverfront master plan that was adopted and implemented into the city’s overall master plan about five years ago. The downtown development plan focused on the future of the Courthouse Square. It embraced the city’s relationship to the Patoka River by reusing former industrial properties for connectivity and integrating art in the public realm.

“Really, this will be an opportunity to look at this survey, the plan that had been developed, and then also how to tie all that together and maybe set some priorities on what can be done and what can be done first,” Eckerle said.

She estimated Jasper has been a part of the Indiana Main Street program informally for about four decades. She approached the state coordinator about a year ago and expressed interest in being part of a planning workshop with the national entity, and heard a few months ago that Jasper had been one of the few communities selected for the planning process.

“To me, the best thing will be that we have a plan in place of what the community, as a whole, wants to see happen in the downtown,” she said. “And then from that, some priorities set on what we should be doing next. And I think that’s the best thing we could be doing at this point is just setting those priorities.”




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