McCordsville is one of three towns joining forces to work for the Indiana Stellar Communities Program award, which would grant approximately $14 million to be split within the region.
The towns of McCordsville, Cumberland and New Palestine are a collective regional semifinalist for the grant and, if selected, plan on utilizing the funds to improve the Mt. Comfort Corridor.
This is the first year SCP is requiring applicants to collaborate regionally instead of applying individually.
“Historically, Stellar has been where one community submits an application and is awarded, and a singular community gets the grant,” McCordsville Director of Planning and Building Ryan Crum said. “What they changed this year is you had to collaborate with at least one other community. McCordsville had to join up with other municipalities and submit a regional application.”
Teaming with New Palestine and Cumberland was a logical choice for McCordsville, according to Crum.
“We already collaborated on other projects over the years, and we already have some teamwork and partnerships with them,” Crum said. “With all three of us being along the Mt. Comfort Road corridor, it made logical sense to us. It impacts all three communities. We really feel we are a region. We are three small towns right now, but the growth is coming our way.”
SCP grants funds to two semifinalists. Those awarded must then provide matching funds to complete their projects. The grants are split between the communities in the region. The money within the grants are spread across multiple funding buckets, such as transportation, community development and housing. Organizations working with Stellar Communities include the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, the Indiana Housing and Community Economic Development Authority and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
McCordsville, New Palestine and Cumberland presented their project plans to SCP earlier this month and should hear if they are awarded the funds early next month. If funds are granted, McCordsville’s main project would be changing the four-way, stoplight intersection at 600 North and Mt. Comfort Road to a roundabout.
“It’s seen increasing traffic, and we’ve got three growing subdivisions along 600 North today, so you’re going to continue to see more residential traffic along that side street and we are of course going to see more traffic on Mt. Comfort Road,” Crum said.
Other McCordsville projects include adding Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the town, streetscape improvements and adding a trail in Old Town McCordsville.
“Old Town McCordsville has no pedestrian or bicycle infrastructure of any kind in that area,” Crum said. “What we would like to see is some public investment into Old Town, and the initial thought is one, centralized trail through Old Town.”
The other munincipalities plan to use the funds for community development and housing projects.
Crum said the McCordsville projects will be completed even if the grant isn’t awarded. But if it is, the projects would be completed much sooner than originally planned.
“The Stellar process identifies some things we know we need to do, regardless of Stellar,” he said. “The beauty of what Stellar has done for us is while we were already collaborating with the two other communities, we were not doing it at this pace or detailed level. It’s really caused us to think bigger about our partnerships and the importance of the three towns along the corridor.”
McCordsville Town Manager Tonya Galbraith said even if the region doesn’t receive the grant, the community partnerships are valuable.
“Even if we don’t get Stellar, we’ve developed these wonderful partnerships with New Pal and Cumberland that will lead us through doing other great projects and combining all of what we have together,” she said.
A shot at winning
Previously, the Stellar Community Program was known for awarding grants to towns in more rural areas than McCordsville. However, when SCP required regional partnership applications, McCordsville Director of Planning and Building Ryan Crum said McCordsville’s chances of winning improved.
“We have a lot of agriculture base here, but we are very much in an Indianapolis metropolitan area and very much more of a suburban-style community,” he said. “We are preparing ourselves for future growth, so we are not reacting to it but being proactive. We want to go out and manage it before it gets here, and Stellar helps us do that on a much faster pace.”