Construction underway on Huntingburg’s Market Street Park

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner’s voice choked up as he was finishing his remarks regarding the creation of Market Street Park at Tuesday’s groundbreaking.

“When we received this in 2014, it was a significant moment for our community. And today, after two or three years of really hard work, it really made it a reality. It got to me,” Spinner admitted afterward.

He explained the new park was a cornerstone piece in the continued development of the city. “This is something I see and our community sees as a great need,” he said. “It will bring more and more people to Huntingburg.”

Market Street Park will connect Geiger Street to Main Street with a long promenade that accentuates the Old Town Hall. With entrances from Fourth and Third streets, the park will be multifunctional with areas for performances, picnics and family gatherings as well as large community events like the farmers market.

Along with the ceremonial groundbreaking (work has already begun), Spinner recognized three donors to the park with their naming rights. The Menke Family, German American Bank and Farbest Foods contributed to the project.

The center of the park will be known as Menke Plaza and will be connected to the Old Town Hall. It is an appropriate designation as Phyllis Menke and her mother Marian McMurtrie were largely responsible for saving the Old Town Hall and refurbishing it. As a point of community pride, the historic building has been adopted as the city’s seal.

Menke Plaza will include a plaza featuring seating and tables that extends from the back of the Old Town Hall allowing for events like wedding receptions, large family reunions or business events. Further east, the plaza includes the covered market pavilion area where the farmers market could be located as well as covered booths for events like the Jazz Festival. On its east side, the fountain will remain a feature for the entrance from Main Street.

“We are very proud of what we have done, particularly in this area.” Cory Menke said. “We really wanted my grandmother (Phyllis Menke) to get a sense of recognition for this entire area. She turned 92 this past August so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We felt like naming it the Menke Plaza would be something really special that ties in very nicely with what she did 30 years ago with the Old Town Hall.”

The northern portion of the park, the German American Pavilion, will have access from Fourth Street and includes a plaza with tables and seating that flows into a terraced lawn providing seating for a performance pavilion. The pavilion could be used as a covered area for family gatherings as well as concerts and theatrical performances. South of the pavilion is the pavilion lawn for more room for performances or just lounging around.

The south side of the park is Farbest Foods Commons. It features a legacy court which includes a short wall highlighting the city’s achievements. The area also has a south lawn and a circular walkway with a performance pergola and community swings which leads to a walkway that also goes by a community garden area before exiting the south side of the park.

The new park has been considered one of the key projects included in the Stellar Community application Huntingburg submitted. Plans began with the formation of a committee that then held community forums to take in ideas for the new park’s features. Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group and the City of Huntingburg were presented with a Merit Award for Design for its work on developing the design and vision for the park.

As a partner in the creation of the park and fulfillment of the Stellar projects, the Dubois County Community Foundation holds Stellar donations to support the projects being completed. According to Executive Director Clayton Boyles, that amount will surpass $1.8 million and of that $800,000 has been used to fund the projects so far.

Through the Huntingburg Stellar Community Endowment, the foundation holds about $350,000 to provide money for upkeep for projects into perpetuity. But for the park though, the city, community foundation and donors decided to create a special endowment to maintain and improve the park through the years. Boyles announced that the special endowment holds $625,000 to help support the park in the future.

Construction is expected to be complete by the late spring or early summer of 2018.

“We look forward to coming back here in mid-2018 to celebrate the grand opening of Market Street Park,” Spinner said in closing before being slightly overcome by the emotion of the moment. “It’s another landmark for Huntingburg that truly makes us a city like no other.”