Ossian has high performance plans for its future PDF Print E-mail

By: Glen Werling

Ossian is looking to the future and using a park to put its plans into drive.

Members of Ossian Revitalization and the Ossian Town Council teamed to hire HPG Network, a Fort Wayne consulting group, to study how to make Ossian a better place to work and live. The committee and the town agreed to pay HPGN $44,500. That includes $10,000 of the town's County Economic Development Income Tax funds and $33,500 of funds raised privately by Revitalization.

Throughout the fall of 2014 and winter of 2014-15, representatives from HPG Network worked with Revitalization and groups of citizens appointed to a steering committee to formulate a plan for Ossian. Small focus groups were formed to determine Ossian's assets and liabilities.

The groups determined that Ossian's strongest asset is a good school system. Other strengths are its proximity to Fort Wayne, to Interstate 469 and to Bluffton, Decatur and Huntington. Affordable and stable housing values and low property tax rates were also seen as pluses.

Public meetings were held to determine what Ossian's residents wanted to see done in the community.

After months of work, HPG Network's representatives Ryan Chasey and Heather Presely-Cowan unveiled a draft of the plan to the steering committee members in February.

Presley-Cowan emphasized that Ossian's Archbold-Wilson Memorial Park - the 66 acre, largely vacant, park on Ossian's east side - is not the only feature of the plan, but it is its "crown jewel." Much of the discussion of the plan since February has focused on Archbold-Wilson.

One thing that people have to understand is that limited funds make this at least a 10-year plan, Presley-Cowan explained at the February meeting. While committee members at that time expressed concerns that spreading planning and implementation of features of the park out over such a long term could kill enthusiasm, Presley-Cowan emphasized the plan drafted by HPGN is broken into small pieces that are achievable one at a time. When people are able to tackle a large task a little bit at a time - and can see the results - they are less likely to lose interest, she said.

In the wake of that meeting, members of the steeling committee came up with the name "Ossian Rolls" for the plan.

The name was submitted to the steering committee by member Tim Ehlerding who was playing off an idea by Ossian Revitalization member Marlyn Koons. She had suggested that one event that could be held at the park would be a donut drop, trading on Ossian's renown around the area as the home of Heyerly's Bakery.

Thus Ossian Rolls became a play on words. It's also intended to convey the impression that the town is continuing to move forward - like a wheel rolling - toward a brighter future.

The formal unveiling of HPGNs' plan to the public was in April.

Proposals for the park include a pavilion, an orchard, revamping the baseball diamonds, au amphitheater, a zip line, diverse uses of the pond, swale and hill and art gardens. All of the features suggested are intended to be low maintenance and therefore low cost to maintain.

Presley-Cowan and Chasey have stressed that the town may accept or reject any parts of the plan. It's a starting point, not a finish, they added.

In order to assist with infrastructure construction costs in the park, HPGN has suggested the town partner with private business for the construction of multi-level housing in a portion of the park, but reactions from the public and from town officials have been mixed.

The plan was unveiled and approved at a meeting of the park board in May and was slated for approval by the town council in June.

HPGN will assist in initiating the plan and in searching for funding sources to implement features of the plan including local, state and federal grants.

Original Article Published by The News Banner

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