North Judson Community Center Grant Application Stalls

NJCommunityCenterEfforts to obtain grant funding for a North Judson-Wayne Township community center are being put on hold, as project organizers reevaluate the proposed site of the facility. They think a change in location may save the town some money, while boosting North Judson’s downtown.

Project organizers met with members of the North Judson Town Council Monday to discuss the project. The plan was to build the new community center on donated land north of the town’s fire station, but project organizer Bill Crase says the terms of the deal with the site’s current owner have changed. “We were working on a donation, but the gentleman has already donated one piece to us, and so he’s come to the term that he would sell us all remaining pieces,” Crase says. “There’s five parcel numbers left over there, which would be all the property left north of the firehouse, from the firehouse to Sycamore Street, and he will sell us the rest of the property for $25,000.”

However, Justin Davis, another member of the community center committee, had another idea. He suggested using a currently-vacant piece of land on Lane Street that’s already owned by the town, “A 10-year plan or 20-year plan to get something back on Lane Street is going to be worth a lot better having it sit there than a block over. What else is going to go there? You’re going to have a Friday and Saturday night, the street’s going to be packed. That hasn’t been that way in 20 years.”

Crase said the idea hadn’t been considered previously because organizers had hoped to obtain enough land to be able to fit both the community center and a parking lot. While a parking lot might not be able to fit in the Lane Street location, Davis says a building next to the site is set for demolition, which will leave an open space that could be used. Additional parking can also be placed near the fire station. On top of that, the site already has utility lines, and not having to purchase land may free up money the town can use for the local share of other upcoming grant projects.

The town has been working to get a $400,000 grant for the community center from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Since the grant application is tied to a project’s specific location, the proposed change means the town has to start the process over again.

Instead of submitting an application next month, the town will now have to wait until this fall for its next opportunity to apply for funding. A letter of intent would be submitted in August, followed by a formal application in October. Since there are limits on the number of grant projects the town can undertake at a time, the delay in the community center grant application may also delay funding for additional work on the town’s water facilities.