Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist, Aim

Today, Rising Sun’s riverfront offers picturesque views of the Ohio River, with a performance pavilion, boat ramp and other enhancements to tie the natural asset with recreation opportunities and downtown amenities.

But that wasn’t always the case. Twenty years ago, city officials launched efforts to restore the riverfront, which was deteriorating from erosion. Over the years, city leaders steadily worked on those upgrades. And they’ll hit a major milestone this year when construction is expected to wrap up on the final projects planned in the riverfront revitalization.

Already, the transformed riverfront has drawn tourists to the southeast Indiana city.

“We are on a river, which is an asset, and we wanted to make an asset a true asset,” Rising Sun Mayor Brent Bascom said.

The improvements help Rising Sun celebrate its heritage as a historic river city, Bascom said. And the transformed riverfront represents a drastic change from the 1990s. Back then, the riverfront lost about a foot per year from erosion.

The docks now offer another way to visit the community, Bascom said, with boaters visiting businesses along the unique stop on the Ohio River.

The project included sloping, grading, grassing and the construction of terraced walls and other reinforcements. A bikeway and fountain also were added.

Rising Sun also boasts a seaplane hangar, handicap-accessible ramp to the river and the nation’s first Veteran’s Bell Tower. In 2014, Rising Sun celebrated the completion of the Bicentennial Walkway, which tells the city’s 200-year history and honors Indiana governors, Rising Sun mayors and service members.

The multi-year riverfront project earned Rising Sun recognition at this year’s Aim Ideas Summit as a Placemaking Award winner.

“Maximizing the use of existing assets and building upon strengths is what good placemaking is all about,” Aim CEO Matt Greller said. “The City of Rising Sun is a true leader in this movement and I’m excited for them to receive the acknowledgement they deserve.”

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