Ossian Steering Committee takes its study to the public PDF Print E-mail

By: Glen Werling

Consulting firm High Performance Government looked at a lot of features of Ossian when trying to map out future revitalization plans, said HPG representative Heather Presley Cowan Wednesday night.

It's not just a study about the future of Archbold-Wilson Memorial Park, the 65-acre, mostly undeveloped, park on Ossian's southeast side.

But make no doubt about it, Presley Cowan stressed, AWM Park is the crown jewel.

Ryan Chasey, Presley Cowan and Zach Benedict of MKM Architects, again stressed -as they did at a meeting earlier this year - that the park needs to be looked upon as an opportunity to not only attract people to live in Ossian , but to attract people in the region to come to Ossian.

Ossian Revitalization and the town contracted HPG to study ways to make Ossian more attractive - and more to the point, to use the park as a way of doing that.

Presley Cowan explained to the 35 people in attendance the process that the consulting firm had gone through to arrive at the point of Wednesday's presentation and Benedict explained the features that he was proposing for the park including a zipline, an amphitheater, a nature study space, pavilion, an orchard, high-density housing and public art. Infrastructure such as parking and restrooms were also included in the plans presented by Benedict.

None of these ideas are set in stone, notes Benedict. They are proposals to get people talking and considering realistic goals for the vast space that's available. Moreover he explained, the ideas are intended to be high impact and low maintenance, because he understands that Ossian does not have a large park budget.

Another aspect to the plan, stressed Presley Cowan, is that it is a longterm development plan. "If you think that if the town council adopts this plan that you' re going to see bulldozers out there the next day, you 're not. This is a longterm plan. That's the point, it may be five years, 10 years or 20 years ," she said.

Plus, she again said that people have to look at developing the park as an investment. If the ball diamonds are improved to the point that they can once again attract teams and tournaments, she said those people coming to town will spend money here. Money invested in the park will generate money in the community.

Locating mult i-level, multi-family housing 10 the park is one way to get developers to assist in paying for infrastructure for the park . The housing doesn't have to be low income or subsidized housing, Presley Cowan said. At a recent meeting of the steering committee, the discussion was that the housing could be high income because of the attractiveness of living in a park. "There are doctors who have expressed an interest in this type of housing," she said.

Regarding the idea that bringing in more industry is the key to growing the community, Benedict said studies just don't bear that out. With all of the options for places to live around Ossian, it's too easy for people to work in Ossian and not actually live here, he observed . The key is to make Ossian more attractive as a place to work and live, Benedict said.

Benedict also said he believed that if the park is developed, Ossian would not need to neglect its other parks, but rather HPG proposed tying all of the parks together with a trail system.

One person in the audience observed that the re didn' t really appear to be much playground aspect to the park to appeal to children. Benedict explained the design is to be appealing to all ages because the day of when kids walked to the park by themselves is coming to an end. A park today really needs to have an appeal for everyone, he said.

"We want this place to become something we're all really proud of. At the end if the day, we're trying to exponentially improve place attachment to Ossian," said Benedict.

Some expressed some concern about the scope of the plan, but Presley Cowan said, "If we don't have a plan that's audacious we won' t have a park at all. That's why we all need to come back to the table and talk about each one of these ideas."

Revitalization president Kody Kumfer and Ossian Town Council member Tom Neuenschwander explained that everyone is invited to provide input. Ossian Revitalization has 12 members now, but it could have more, said Neuenschwander.

The plan next goes to the town council for approval at its May 11 meeting.

Original Article Published by The News Banner

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