By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The town of Millersburg could be in for a major facelift this fall.
According to Millersburg Utility Superintendent Ben Eldridge, town officials have plans to build a new town hall, police department and community center with the goal of making the town more appealing to both businesses and residents.
As part of that effort, Eldridge went before the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners Monday morning to request a letter of support that town officials hope to use to secure a $400,000 community development grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Board members agreed to provide the requested letter.
“This is something that we’ve wanted to do for quite a while as far as updating our town offices, and I know there’s been some talk over the years about a community center where the town could host events, town council meetings, etc.,” Eldridge said. “Being such a small community, we’ve never really been able to come up with the funds to do it because we’re on a really tight budget. But over the last couple of years we’ve done really well with managing our funds, and now we’re in a position with this grant to really get things moving.”
Originally planned for two phases, Eldridge said, the first phase would have involved updating the town’s offices and police department while phase two would involve the construction of a new community center. However, upon searching for potential site locations, Eldridge said the town park was identified as the best site for both projects, and a decision was made to combine the two.
“We figured if we’re going to put it in the park, why not combine the community center with it?,” Eldridge said. “So our goal with this project is to provide better town offices, better offices and space for the police department, and of course our hope with the community center is it’s going to be great for the community.”
In addition, Eldridge said he hopes the town makeover will help attract new businesses as well.
“The intention is to make Millersburg a place where businesses will want to locate,” Eldridge said. “It’s been hard over the past couple years with the closing of a couple businesses, so we’re really working hard right now to generate new interest in the area.”
In discussing potential cost for such a project, Eldridge said there are currently no grants available for law enforcement projects, so town officials will be responsible for funding the town hall and police department portions of the project. The grant will be reserved for the new community center.
“It seems kind of odd that the federal government would allow funds to be used for community centers and not police departments or town halls, but they do,” Eldridge said. “So that’s what the grant portion is going to cover, the community center.”
Eldridge said he does not yet have an exact figure for how much the total project will cost due to the fact that town officials are still in the process of selecting an engineering firm. He did, however, indicate that the project will likely fall close to the $600,000 range.
“I would say a rough estimate, with the full $400,000 grant, it would probably be around $600,000,” Eldridge said.
Should the town be successful in its grant application this spring, Eldridge said he anticipates breaking ground on the project as early as this fall.
“The grant is awarded once a year, I believe, in June,” Eldridge said. “If we end up getting the grant this year, we’ll be breaking ground in the fall. If not, the grant is awarded once a year, so we’ll just reapply next year, and if we get it then we’d break ground probably next summer or early fall.”
In other business, the commissioners approved:
• An additional appropriation of $1.5 million from the Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) fund to go toward the county’s annual road paving and maintenance program. Also approved was a $1.2 million additional appropriation from the Road Maintenance and Construction “Wheel Tax” Fund for additional road paving and maintenance funding.
• An additional appropriation of $50,000 from the Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) Fund for the purchase of a new oil storage tank for the Highway Department.
• Their annual agreement between the County Juvenile Detention Center and IU Health Goshen Hospital. The agreement acknowledges that the hospital will accept juveniles from the facility for any medically related reason.