By Melissa Conrad
---- — They ranged in age from 11 to 84 and assembled outside the Rush County Chamber of Commerce to begin a special walk last week. More than 50 people joined together July 15 to help create a new vision for what Downtown Rushville could become through a “Dream Walk” sponsored by Partners for Progress.
Partners for Progress, a group of Rush County residents making an effort to maximize all the positives of our county and to address areas of concern as well, invited the community to join in a Dream Walk - and the community came along.
More than 480 suggestions were made by the participants who went on a walking tour of the downtown district, following a list of properties that are currently vacant or may be under-utilized in the community, said Jason Clemmons.
Partners for Progress asked residents to provide ideas or dreams of what a property could become and what was needed for a better future in Rushville. Addresses on the list were: 103 S. Main, 211 N. Main, 217 N. Main, 219 N. Main, 227 N. Main, 231 N. Main, 233 N. Main, 306 N. Main, 330 N. Main, 121 W. Second, 201 W. Second, 127 W. Third, 129 W. Third and another property on West Third Street, behind 305 N. Main Street.
Residents who were unable to attend the walk are encouraged to visit City Hall or the Rushville Republican website where you can view the properties. Resident’s dream lists should be dropped off at City Hall, 133 W. First Street, Rushville, or the Rushville Republican offices at 126 S. Main Street.
In working with the Office of Community and Rural Affairs on community development grants, “when you look at the grant dollars that are out there, a lot of them are for downtown districts,” Clemmons pointed out, highlighting one of the reason Partners wanted to begin accumulating ideas from the community about what they wanted to see in our future downtown.
Each participant wrote in their ideas and dreams on suggestion cards that began, “I wish this could be…” Member of Partners for Progress will meet Wednesday, July 24, to begin assembling the numerous responses received so far into documents to be used for future development planning and for use in seeking grants to help in making dreams into realities.
Dream walkers were also asked to consider and share additional ideas including: Suggestions for the second story of downtown buildings as well as street levels; suggestions on how to improve the downtown area; list any buildings that should be torn down; whether parking should be added and where; and to name other communities that have revitalized their downtowns as well.
In addition, many people are adding their names, phone numbers and e-mails to a growing list of people who want to help in future efforts to improve the community.
One of the unique aspects of Partners for Progress is that it is a joint effort of both City and Rush County leaders including Mayor Mike Pavey and County Council member Gerald Mohr, alongside individuals in education, the faith community, agriculture, the environment, foundations, businesses, communications, homemakers and more who joined in the walk.
The Dream Walk was a beginning step in one of Partners for Progress’ projects which is to assess the needs of the downtown district of Rushville. Everyone interested in the future of the downtown district of Rushville is encouraged to add their voices and ideas to the suggestions already received.
Participants, when asked to dream of how these spaces could be used, placed a sticky note with their idea on the storefront after the phrase, “I wish this could be…” and answered more than 480 times. They began the process of envisioning the ideal components of a small, rural downtown and awakening ideas. For example, do we need a specific kind of business or service in Rushville? Are there amenities you’d like to see in the downtown area? Green space? Parking? Demolition? Don’t forget to look up – how could the second stories of existing buildings be used? What kind of downtown would you like to see, building by building, lot by lot? Come be a part of dreaming about Rushville’s future and share your ideas!
One note submitted said, “A restaurant with rooftop seating,” followed by hundreds more suggestions. The group looks forward to reviewing the many submissions turned in during the Dream Walk when they gather again on Wednesday and in the coming weeks. Partner for Progress members are excited about working together and helping Rushville and Rush County realize their many dreams for the future.
Partners for Progress have been working diligently on several community projects. The information gained from this walk will be used for planning and grant-writing purposes. Members appreciate the community’s willingness to help. It will take input from everyone to make Rushville a vibrant community.
For more information, call Jason Clemmons at 765-561-2777.