Community offers ideas for town's future

Town leaders are partnering with Ball State University graduate students and the community to come up with ideas for the future of Waterloo.

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 9:33 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 12:16 AM

WATERLOO, Ind. (WFFT) - The Town of Waterloo is looking to give new life to its downtown area.

Town leaders are partnering with Ball State University graduate students and the community to come up with ideas for the future of Waterloo.

Downtown Waterloo is filled with empty shop after empty shop, the biggest vacancy is the old Harts Grocery.

"Sadly we've seen several businesses leave bit by bit over the years. It was quite a thriving community when I moved here," said long-time Waterloo resident Cindy Spear.

Spear has lived in Waterloo for more 40 years.

She's just one of about 50 people who shared their opinions on what the future of the small DeKalb County town should look like.

"I think this is very encouraging, it's very exciting. I think this is a good feel of what's going to come in the future," said Spear.

People at Tuesday's forum shared many of the same goals; bringing the town back to life and connecting to the historic train depot.

"It is a drawing point. There are trains through here every ten minutes and we're not drawing on the depot people or the trains being stopped," said Steve Reynolds, who lives just outside Waterloo.

Ball State Urban Planning graduate students are helping with the project.

Their professor, Michael Burayidi, said it's important for towns to gather input from the community for projects like this.

"If the heart is not doing well, then the city as a whole is not going to do well. That is why it is important that the core of the city is returned to its previous health," said Burayidi.

It is truly a community project, with students from Waterloo Elementary offering ideas.

"This whole feel of this meeting tonight is really the right time to do this and it's the right time for our students," said Julia Tipton, Waterloo Elementary principal.

"I'm so excited about it. I think it will even mean more to them that there is the potential can actually impact their community," said Eryn Mirra, Waterloo Elementary teacher.

You can still submit your ideas in an online survey on Waterloo's website.

The students will present their findings during a meeting February 20.

A draft of the plan will will be April 17.

The final plan will be done May 4.

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