Jared Reedy, Aim Hometown Innovations Contributor
Sullivan County is one of several counties that make up the Wabash River Regional Development Authority in West Central Indiana. Last year, the Wabash River RDA received $20 million from READI (Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative). $4.3 million of this funding went to the City of Sullivan, allowing the local government to finally address a “temporary” solution that lasted for almost forty years.
In 1983, Sullivan’s city hall caught fire. Purported as a temporary solution, the City of Sullivan’s government officials and employees were moved to new offices spread out across multiple locations. The administration purchased a former IGA grocery store and transformed it into a new mayor’s office and fire station. Department of Public Works employees were stationed at a separate building owned by the Regional Development Council, the special projects coordinator moved to the eastside fire station, and city council members now met at the civic center. Because it would not have been financially feasible to construct a new city hall, this arrangement lasted for almost four decades.
READI funding, in addition to local fundraising, has made it possible for the City of Sullivan to improve the Central Plaza Corridor between the Sullivan Civic Center and the Downtown Square, which included the complete remodel of a more appropriate and suitable structure into a new city hall space, with plenty of room and a great atmosphere to do the city’s business.
“The pandemic is really what brought light to the project,” Mayor Lamb shared. “We’re doing a lot of housing and quality-of-life investment in the community, and it’s attracting more people to live and visit. Previously, when they came to the city to chat, we were boxed together in an old grocery store. When we were told to social distance, we had people on top of each other.”
According to Mayor Lamb, Sullivan’s city hall component of the project is a point of pride and a morale booster. It provides a clean and crisp atmosphere for employees and citizens alike. It’s color scheme matches the civic center as part of ongoing downtown beautification efforts, making the Central Plaza Corridor even more cohesive. $1.5 million in READI funds helped the city accomplish these significant and sought-after goals.
Located at 110 North Main Street, the new city hall houses brand new council chambers, the mayor’s office, the clerk-treasurer’s office, the building commissioner, and the Department of Public Works and Community Development.
“Instead of being spread out and isolated, we are together collaborating and truly transforming a community,” Mayor Lamb said.
Another point of pride for the Sullivan community is the newly renovated city pool. Constructed in 1963 and designed to be in use for approximately 25 years, the parks department reluctantly made the decision to shut down Sullivan’s city pool in 2017. Multiple community sessions, surveys, and community forums were conducted to determine what to do with the space. Thanks to local fundraising, $1 million in READI funds, and $370,000 from the Department of Natural Resources, the Sullivan city pool underwent a complete revitalization and reopened in the summer of 2022.
Mayor Lamb knew it had to be more than a simple local swimming pool. The Sullivan community can utilize the sundeck for a variety of outdoor events including family reunions, class reunions, and wedding receptions. Additionally, tugging at nostalgic heartstrings, the pool’s original 1963 bathhouse was refurbished and equipped with a small elevator to the sundeck. Soon, water aerobics classes will be offered for senior citizens, water safety classes for toddlers, and Food Truck Fridays for everyone.
Also coming soon to Sullivan are major housing initiatives as a result of partnerships with the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). Furthermore, trails and greenway systems connecting the Sullivan city pool to city hall will be forged in 2026.
“People years ago, they really had it right,” Mayor Lamb said. “They knew how to design a community. All we’re really doing is recreating what really made the community great, and that was quality of life amenities, and people gathering.”