Ball State students presenting concepts for One Chamber Square

There has been a lot of activity happening in downtown Seymour this year.

New businesses have opened, building owners continue to make improvements to their properties, there are new park benches and bike racks and new events have drawn a record number of people downtown.

But with time ticking down on 2017, Seymour Main Street wants to talk about what comes next for downtown revitalization efforts.

The organization is looking for ideas from the public on how to maintain the momentum of positive activity and build on it for the future, said executive director Becky Schepman.

At 4 p.m. Monday, Seymour Main Street is hosting a community conversation at the Jackson County Visitor Center to gain input and ideas for potential changes and improvements that could be made downtown and especially at One Chamber Square.

“I am looking for input from the community and business owners about what they would like to see our downtown look like,” Schepman said.

During the meeting, a group of nine students from Ball State University’s urban landscape and architecture program will present concepts they have come up with to revamp the area with specific attention to One Chamber Square.

Under the guidance of Professor Pete Ellery, the students have been working on their ideas and plans since early October.

“I have seen some of the work that they did on the Medora brick kiln project and was really impressed,” Schepman said. “Professor Ellery has some local ties to Seymour, and I was excited to see what the students could do with his direction and their creativity, so I reached out to him. He was very interested, and they all have been a joy to work with.”

Ellery and the students visited downtown Seymour and interviewed business owners and community leaders to discuss changes and the future of the city.

“They really are vested in this project, and I am ecstatic about seeing what they come up with,” Schepman said.

Their assignment required them to focus on One Chamber Square and then select another area of the downtown to improve.

One Chamber Square, located to the south of the railroad tracks along St. Louis Avenue, has been a gathering place for downtown events for many years, including Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce picnics in the summer and the annual One Chamber Christmas event.

But many of those events likely will relocate to the new downtown park being built in the empty lot located east of Jeffersonville Avenue.

“With the new (downtown) park set to open in spring of 2018, we think that the function of One Chamber Square will change,” Schepman said. “It has been in need of a facelift, and it is perfect timing.”

Anyone is welcome to attend the meeting and can become a part of the discussion by asking questions, providing their own ideas or just listening.

“We would like everyone to come see these concepts and also hear about the other ideas we have for the downtown,” Schepman said. “I hope the community and business owners will give us ideas about what they have seen and enjoyed about other downtowns and what they envision Seymour looking like in the next five years.”

Seymour Main Street is planning to apply for a Main Street Revitalization grant in 2018 that would provide funding to focus on streetscapes and facades, Schepman said.

“The hope is that we can do some major design changes in the downtown in the coming years,” she said. “I focused this year on events for Main Street, but now that we have some great events in place and the right people in the right places, I am hoping in 2018 to focus on implementing some of the ideas for design.”

Having a community conversation about the downtown is an important step in moving the downtown forward, Schepman said.

“The downtown is the heart of Seymour,” she said. “We all want to live somewhere with a vibrant downtown where we can eat, shop and our kids can play.”

Changes to design and the visual appeal of the downtown are a way to compliment the “already booming business culture we are seeing in Seymour,” Schepman said.

“We have had another five businesses open just recently downtown, and we want to continue to see that growth,” she said. “We can’t move forward without meetings like these. I need to see and hear what the public has to say so that we can move forward and have a downtown everyone will enjoy.”

If you go

What: Community conversation about downtown Seymour organized by Seymour Main Street

When: 4 p.m. Monday

Where: Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour

Who: Open to the public; Ball State University students will be presenting concepts they have come up with for redesigning and repurposing One Chamber Square and for making improvements to other areas of the downtown

Information: Contact Becky Schepman at 812-271-1340 or email info@seymourmainstreet.org. You also can visit seymourmainstreet.org.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.