“The river has always been very important to me”: Terre Haute officials discuss Fairbanks Park upgrades

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Gerri Varner is a Terre Haute native and special projects coordinator for riverSCAPE.

She said the city’s investment into Fairbanks Park is important.

“I’m a Hautian. I’ve been here all my life. The river has always been very important to me and I really wanted to see it put back the way it belonged,” Varner explained.

Renovations include a new concrete riverwalk area, improvements to the amphitheater such as new seating and remodeling the fountain archway.

Varner said riverSCAPE will get a head start by planting 3,000 new flowers in the flowerbeds on Saturday, May 15.

“It had some native plants in it. But it was a bit dull. So we came up with this idea of flowers would make it a spectacular spot while we’re waiting for it to be completely renovated. It would be a wonderful idea for this summer,” she noted.  

According to Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett the project has been in the works for the past decade.

He said with help from Rose-Hulman students, they’re now in the design phase.

Project costs haven’t been finalized yet but he added that COVID-19 relief funds could help.

“Maybe some of that can be used here. We’re applying for DNR grants. We’re going to use our economic development tax funds. Then we’ll have casino funds beginning in 2023,” Mayor Bennett began. “So we’ll have to design out the pieces, layout a timeline and fund them to happen.”

Bennett said the Fairbanks Park renovations will help make the city a more attractive place.

“What we hope all this leads to is more investment in our community. More businesses that want to be here. More people who want to be here whether that’s students who stay after they graduate, people that come here for jobs, or businesses that locate here because they know we have a talent pool of people which will hopefully help them to be here and things to do for their employees. It’s all apart of the economic development plan.”

Construction could begin around the middle of 2022 and it may take several years to get all of the renovations completed.

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