New park in Warren gets grant for stage

A $28,800 state grant will pay for the construction of a stage at a new park in downtown Warren, completing the second phase of a three-part development project.

“When we get Phase 2 done, we’ll have a useable park,” says Jeff Souder, who’s chairing the Warren Chamber of Commerce committee that’s working on the park.

The park project is one of six “quality of place initiatives” throughout Indiana to be awarded grants from the Place Based Investment Fund, administered by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

The grants were announced on Aug. 3.

Warren’s park is, as of now, without a name.

“We were going to have a naming contest, but we just haven’t gotten around to that,” Souder says.

It’s been in the works for about six years, since two dilapidated houses on First Street next to the Post Office were demolished. The park is being developed on the land previously occupied by those houses.

Since the houses were demolished, dirt has been hauled to the site to provide proper grading, trees and shrubs have been planted and a natural stone wall has been constructed.

“We’re hoping to get the stage put in this fall sometime,” Souder says.

If that happens, the stage could be used during the Scarecrow Festival in late October.

The ground around the stage is sloped, and audience members will bring their own chairs or blankets, he says.

Souder sees lots of uses for the stage — during the Salamonie Summer Festival, chamber events, youth group meetings, concerts, movies and other family oriented activities.

The third phase of park development will expand possibilities even more, he says. That will include widening the sidewalk to provide for handicap seating as well as space for a farmers’ market, canvas awnings to provide shade and additional lighting.

The project is a partnership of the Warren Chamber of Commerce, Historic Warren Inc. and the Town of Warren.

“It has been really nice to see the three entities work together on a project of this size,” Souder says.