KENDALLVILLE — Kendallville's newest gathering place is already being built.

Less than four months after the city launched a fundraising blitz to collect donations for the park across from City Hall, work has already started to lay the foundation and get the park substantially complete by Christmas.

When complete, the park will give the city another downtown gathering place, with plenty of seating, space for food trucks to park and an area that can host the city's mobile stage for downtown events.

Susan Jansen, a member of the local committee that planned and designed the park, said the effort to raise the money for the project received an incredible response.

"It's been insane. We had four individual $25,000 donors and we have had support from the (Kendallville Redevelopment Commission) gave us $25,000. We have won a couple of grants that we have applied for for the park and there have been several over big large donations, so thankfully in a very short amount of town we were able to raise enough to put the hardscape in and get the park built," Jansen said.

The group was aiming for a $216,000 total, which would be enough for the $138,000 estimated construction cost as well as enough money to be socked away to cover annual landscaping costs for at least 20 years.

Jansen said the campaign hasn't hit that ultimate goal yet, but had enough raised to launch the construction now and continue building the maintenance fund.

With fall approaching and winter close behind, the pocket park won't be 100% complete this year, but residents should hopefully see substantial improvements by the time snow settles in.

"We're hoping that the concrete work is going to be done about middle of October and then the masonry will start and that will take about a month," Jansen said. "We're hoping by the Christmas parade the pocket park is going to be looking good."

Sod could be laid before winter, but other plantings will have to wait until spring. That, and the pandemic has caused major delays in supply of vinyl fencing, so the city's not likely to get decorative fence until next year either.

The city is hoping to host a community Christmas tree in the new pocket park this winter and will also have a lighted decorative ornament made by Kammerer Dynamics that will return after its debut in 2020.

The pocket park will feature a central plaza and feature ample seating in the form of benches as well as picnic tables. Tables could seat up to 28 people, along with bench space that could seat 40 or more people in the park.

Two pergolas will be constructed by local metal fabricator Kammerer Dynamics to help shade the lot and the park will be set up with two slots for food trucks to park as well as a place for the city to set up its mobile stage to make a space for musical acts or other performances.

The park will also feature a large mural to add some public art to the space and add a “hide and seek” opportunity for children as well as opportunity to learn about some Indiana heritage.

Jansen said the pocket park will be one more addition to the transformative projects Kendallville is seeing downtown.

"We've been seeing so many wonderful changes happening downtown with The Alley project, the streetscape project, this awesome $2 million grant we just got awarded for downtown revitalization and this is a huge piece of all of that," she said. "(The park is) just a wonderful place for people to enjoy the ambiance that is just going to continue to get better. We have so many people working to revitalize our downtown. It's just one more stone in the crown."

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