TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A Purdue Extension program that helps Indiana communities improve public spaces such as parks and town centers is surveying residents to get input on the Terre Haute city parks and recreation department’s next five-year master plan.
Specialists and educators in Extension’s Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces program are administering the survey and collecting and analyzing the feedback. The objective is to help create a five-year plan for improving facilities, services and programs.
Citizens can access the survey online at https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cBCissC9SSdR90p or at https://extension.purdue.edu/vigo. Those who do not have access to a computer but would like to participate can receive a copy of the survey at the Vigo County Library, One Library Square, Terre Haute, IN. Deadline to complete the survey is May 25.
“The Enhancing program is strongly rooted in the community development principles of good practice,” said Kara Salazar, sustainable communities Extension specialist. “As such, we concentrate on participation, inclusion, capacity building and balancing action planning with long-term sustainability.”
Working with the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department, the Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces team brought together a diverse group of more than 50 residents in a public forum last fall to consider the public spaces assets that Terre Haute has and how they can be made better and more sustainable. Participants included representatives of from local colleges, school corporation, library, faith-based organizations, non-profit agencies and elected officials, among other stakeholder groups.
Team leaders Salazar and Michael Wilcox, assistant program leader for community development, note that decisions about how to design and manage public spaces can have long-term effects on the social, economic and environmental health of communities. They emphasize that participation by the public is vital to the success of improvement projects designed specifically for their community.
“What we do is build capacity in the partnering organization to have a more inclusive group so there can be a holistic plan for the community rather than a cookie-cutter plan,” Wilcox said.
“The plans are then reflective of community values and needs,” Salazar said.
The program team will continue to meet with the planning committee in Terre Haute, analyze data from the survey, interview members of stakeholder groups and then hand off the information to consultants, who will complete the plan.
Terre Haute is one of several communities the Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces program has assisted in community improvement efforts. For example, it helped the city of Frankfort in Clinton County obtain a $40,000 grant from the Indiana office of Community and Rural Affairs for a downtown revitalization project.
It had a lead role in helping community leaders in Corydon in southern Indiana formulate plans for a park in commemoration of Indiana’s bicentennial. The program also has been involved in projects in other Indiana communities, including Portage, West Lafayette, Princeton, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Washington and Lebanon.
— Purdue Extension