When they dream about the moonlight on the Wabash, some folks in that river’s namesake city envision a new riverfront plaza as a backdrop.
It would have paver stone walkways, gazebos and maybe an outfitter that rents canoes, kayaks and bicycles. The land where the park would go is unused and offers a limited view of the famous waterway.
Organizers are looking at crowdfunding to help make that dream a reality.
Wabash Marketplace Inc., a nonprofit with a goal of fostering downtown improvements, hopes to raise $50,000 for the Wabash Riverfront Plaza to receive the same amount in matching funds from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
The project is the first in the state agency’s CreatINg Places initiative, introduced in October by the IHCDA to fund community improvements. The agency calls it crowdgranting.
"CreatINg Places aims to help generate public involvement in the selection of creative improvements within their own communities, help provide the funding to see the project through completion, and instill community pride when citizens become invested in their surroundings," Jacob Sipe, executive director of IHCDA, said in a media release.
Donations toward the Wabash goal can be made through patronicity.com. As of Friday, $8,310 had been raised since Nov. 16. Deadline is Dec. 31.
Fort Wayne is in the process of developing its own riverfront, and Wabash organizers were inspired by The Deck at Hall’s Gas House restaurant on the St. Marys River. A similar riverfront restaurant on the proposed plaza could be in Wabash’s future, said Tyler Karst, Wabash Marketplace project coordinator.
The plaza would be built at a slight bend in the river south of downtown at the end of South Cass Street and just west of the Wabash Street Bridge. A large courtyard is planned for each side of the city’s Riverwalk. It will include two gazebos, a fire pit, tables and chairs, and a deck overlooking the river.
If the fundraising is successful, construction could begin next spring, said Karst.
Karst said he knows of $5,000 in donations still to be added to the fundraising pool and other money that has been promised.
"We’re feeling pretty good," he said. "We’re feeling pretty positive."