- Riverside Overlook
- Morgan Street Improvements
- Flatrock Run Trailhead and Bike Hub
- Campaign Quarters
- Riverside Park Gateway Plaza
- Downtown Commercial Building Revitalization
- Neighborhood Revitalization
When Rushville’s mayor Mike Pavey heard about Stellar during his first year in office, he saw an opportunity for his community. Rushville, like many small communities was struggling with depopulation and aging housing stock. Additionally, the quality of the downtown had decreased and, with it, the community’s pride. Simply, Rushville needed the resources to update their downtown and revitalize the area. Pavey spearheaded multiple city plans and pushed several projects that laid the foundation for Rushville’s 2016 designation. “Stellar gave us something we could shoot for,” Pavey said, “We wanted to instill a sense of pride which we wanted to gain through improved quality of life.”
For more information on the specific plan read Rushville’s comprehensive plan.
Rushville participated in several of OCRA’s events and educational opportunities and used them as a resource for new ideas for projects. Eventually, as these projects came to fruition, other community’s began noticing Rushville’s development and their certainty in their abilities grew. “It gave us a lot of confidence that we were doing something good,” Brian Sheehan, Rushville’s director of special projects, said.
This affirmation pushed Rushville to submit their Stellar Letter of Interest. Previous to their application, they completed multiple plans as well as discovered more about their community’s needs through researching the Community Performance Indicators (CPI). Using these as resources, Sheehan incorporated them into the Rushville’s Stellar presentation. there were several statistics from the CPI that came as a shock to the Stellar team, according to Sheehan. However, instead of burying these indicators in the presentation, Sheehan framed them as opportunities. “There’s a story behind the statistics,” Sheehan said.
In addition to numbers, the Stellar team referred to input that was gathered from the mayor’s Partners for Progress Group which was made up of several non-profit organizations. “As I was running for Mayor, I got the idea for a ‘clearing house group’ that helped vet new ideas,” Pavey said. “And as we put plans together, representatives from each of these major organizations were able to give their opinions. It allowed us to move a lot quicker.”
Due to the effective planning of Partners for Progress, initiatives were already underway for a downtown project that began implementation immediately following the announcement of Rushville’s designation. This well planned timing allowed the Stellar team to use this project as a buffer to plan and prepare for Stellar’s first project.
“The timing was perfect, we had enough going on already that only a few were asking what was happening with Stellar,” Sheehan said. “Everyone assumed that what was already happening was Stellar.” However, Rushville has recently encountered an obstacle. Walmart, Rushville’s largest retailer, closed in April 2018, leaving 95 residents without jobs and a large retail space vacant.
“Sometimes you can be doing amazing things on a local level but it still doesn’t make the radar for a big, corporate organization. We talked to the organization after the fact but they had no idea of the things that we were doing,” Pavey said.
Immediately the Stellar team went back to their plan to address this issue. After reviewing their projects, they decided to drop the plans for building another commercial space and have determined a different approach.
“I think our adaptability might be one of the reasons that we were chosen for Stellar. We don’t get too stuck on a plan, we aren’t afraid to change it when it makes sense,” Pavey said. “We are proud to be leading the way in Rural Indiana.”
Looking back, Sheehan says that Rushville has gained the confidence to pursue funding meaningful projects that they didn’t previously have the tools to accomplish. Which has, in Sheehan’s opinion, put Rushville on an even playing field with larger cities. “We’ve finished second lots of times in the past, this time we were first and that’s changing people’s attitude,” Pavey said. “There’s a new sense of pride here.”