At the meeting of the Warsaw Park Board on May 20, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer stopped by to get input on a revitalization project in the downtown area.
“We’re just exploring right now what kind of development might work on Buffalo Street,” said Thallemer, referring to a project that would link the downtown area with Central Park and Center Lake.
Since 2002, ideas have been tossed around about creating a boulevard-type concept along Buffalo Street leading to the lake area. This has long been a conceptual idea, but Thallemer said, “I think things are beginning to head in that direction.”
“We’ve had some money donated to put some kind of attraction down at that lake,” said Thallemer. “We don’t have any drawings, we’ve had a lot of discussions with the city planner, but nothing concrete.”
“I wanted a chance to let you know what’s bubbling up a little bit,” Thallemer said. “I want the park board to have a real input into what goes on down there, because it really is an interface between the boulevard, the lake and the park.”
Thallemer said the recent change in TIF legislation requires all legacy TIF districts to expire by 2025. However, there’s a provision in the legislation stating if a TIF-funded project is started before July 1, 2015, the TIF could be extended to 2040.
“We’re on the move with it,” Thallemer said. “We’re looking at potentially more urbanized housing, walkability, livability — essentially bringing people back downtown.
“Folks were pretty excited with what we were showing them,” added Thallemer. “This type of project would fit our community well and is very necessary to continue to grow.”
The mayor continued, “Developers like having that lake front amenity. It’s a good spot that probably needs a little bit of a facelift.”
Since this project would relocate some of the parks department’s buildings, the board raised some concern about what would happen with the buildings. “It’s all about making the pieces work in the whole entire puzzle,” said Warsaw Parks and Recreation Superintendent Larry Plummer.
“Until we get some kind of project design, we’re not going to know what the footprint is down there,” responded Thallemer.
Park board president Bill Baldwin added, “I think the whole board is behind the project.”
Also at the meeting, Plummer advised the board that the roof of the Firemen’s Building had been replaced, some dated playground items were removed from Kiddie Land, and the purchase of a Jam Box, a djembe and an ashiko were approved.
Plummer also reported that replacement of tables and benches in McKinley Park was underway and should be completed soon.