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Ball State students make presentation on concepts for downtown, square

Enjoying music on a warm summer evening at a concert venue at the newly renovated One Chamber Square downtown.

Walking through an alley in downtown Seymour with art murals and interactive music displays.

Turning down Chestnut Street to see an iron Seymour sign and landscaping in the middle of the street.

Those are just some of the ideas and concepts students in Dr. Peter J. Ellery’s landscape architecture class at Ball State University came up with over this semester for downtown Seymour.

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Those concepts, which were split into three groups, were presented to the community Monday afternoon at the Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour.

The idea was to show everyone some of the ideas the students came up with and to give local organizations a blueprint for what the future of Seymour may look like.

Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street, said the organization was looking at ways to give One Chamber Square at Chestnut Street and St. Louis Avenue a simple update.

With the city’s newest park under construction nearby along Tipton Street, Schepman said plans changed to come up with more creative ideas for One Chamber Square.

To aid the effort, board members suggested contacting Ellery because of his ties to Jackson County.

Ellery is related to Arann Banks, executive director of the Jackson County Visitor Center, so Schepman reached out, and he expressed interest in using his class to help. His students came up with four concept plans in the fall of 2016 for the Medora Brick Plant.

Schepman said she was impressed with the level of commitment Ellery and the class took to come up with the three concepts.

“I was impressed because they came down here and spent several days talking to all the business owners and walked around asking for ideas, met with me and my board and different stakeholders,” she said. “You could tell they were really vested in it.”

Music was the focal point of each of the three concepts because of Seymour native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp, group members said.

Schepman said she resonated with the music theme because it is a great marketing tool for the downtown, and the concepts helped give her a visual of what the areas could become.

“They were able to give me visuals and see what could actually happen with the different spaces,” she said. “Seeing the way they connect alleys to different parts of town to get people walking and all that was great.”

Erin Solis, a graduate student that presented with one of the three groups, is a 2003 Brownstown Central High School graduate. Her group focused on Chestnut Street and other alleyways downtown.

As a county native, Solis said she had a unique perspective when coming up with concepts for the proposal.

“It’s been really neat, and I never thought I’d do something like this and never realize when I was a kid growing up here, never thought about making the improvements,” she said following the presentation. “Having that connection here was really nice.”

Solis will graduate in May with a degree in landscape design and hopes to join a firm that also has ties to Seymour.

Solis interned with HWC Engineering, a Terre Haute-based firm that designed the new park currently being constructed in downtown Seymour.

“I have a close connection with them and hope to work with them further in landscape architecture,” she said.

Solis said the most interesting part of the project was digging deeper into Seymour’s history and the downtown district.

“It was an opportunity for me to research the area where I’m from,” she said.

The next step for Seymour Main Street is to decide the concepts or parts of concepts that might be pursued.

Schepman said city officials and board members attended Monday’s presentation and are thinking about what could be done from the projects.

“I know the city engineer (Nathan Frey) was here, and he said there were many ideas that were feasible for our city,” she said, adding board members also shared feedback. “It’s great that we’re already talking about what sticks out to us.”

Schepman said the Seymour Main Street design board now plans to meet and break down each project and discuss what they would like to see happen in the downtown.

“We need to get together and discuss what we actually can do,” she said.

Schepman said the board has its sights set on a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant for main street revitalization for streetscape through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

“That’s what we’re looking at now, streetscape,” she said.

Dr. Nathan Otte, who is involved in Vision 2025, a group dedicated to shaping the city’s future, said he was excited to see Seymour Main Street looking for ways to improve the city’s downtown.

“It’s exciting to see our community leaders take these steps to move Seymour forward,” he said, adding the plans showed a balance of keeping Seymour’s historic elements while giving it a fresh, updated look for the future. “These presentations showed us a redeveloped downtown that preserved its historic integrity while creating a gathering place for residents and a destination for visitors.”

Schepman said each of the concept plans from Ball State students will be posted on the Seymour Main Street website, seymourmainstreet.org.

The concept plans for One Chamber Square and downtown Seymour developed by Ball State University students will be posted on the Seymour Main Street website, seymourmainstreet.org.

Article source: http://www.tribtown.com/2017/12/06/ball_state_students_make_presentation_on_concepts_for_downtown_and_one_chamber_square/