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Brookville group prepares to reveal town square designs

March 24, 2011

Historic Brookville Inc.’s plans for a town square at the former Selker Brothers location are nearing completion. The plans will be revealed to the public at 7 p.m. April 7 at the Brookville Volunteer Fire Hall. (Image submitted)

BROOKVILLE — Historic Brookville Inc. (HBI) will present the designs for the planned town square at 7 p.m. April 7 at the Brookville Volunteer Fire Hall.

HBI made that announcement this week after more than six months of design work and several years of dealing with environmental issues.
The final site plan includes:

• Pedestrian amenities, including a decorative walkway between the courthouse and town square.

• Lighting and adequate electricity for public performances, such as concerts and plays.

• Preservation of the historic American Hotel rear wall, which stood at the site from the 1850s to 1960s.

• The original courthouse spire from 1866 will be installed and treated as a special attraction. The spire was obtained by John Hegburg, clerk of works for last year’s Jefferson County Courthouse restoration project.
HBI, a historic preservation and community revitalization non-profit organization, secured an option on the former Selker Brothers service station property beside the Jefferson County Courthouse, President Kathy Lynch said.

A grant application and fund-raising process followed, and environmental challenges started to arrive because of the site’s former function as a service station.

After three years, HBI was able to address those issues with cooperation from Brookville borough and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The sale of the property was not finalized until the environmental issues were corrected.

Of course, the property was not sold for free. HBI secured $81,000 in grant funds from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and accepted significant donations from the community.

State Sen. Joe Scarnati also provided assistance, helping HBI receive a $10,000 Community Revitalization Grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Last summer, HBI fully took control of the property, and submitted a request for proposals from design engineers and architects. Kinzelman, Kline & Gossman (KKG), of Columbus, Ohio, was selected as the site architect after a review and interview process.

Lynch said KKG has a national reputation for landscape architecture and recreational planning, and has also been involved in historical preservation planning.

HBI and KKG held a series of public meetings last fall, during which KKG presented possible designs, and the public commented and provided advice. Opinions varied greatly.

Lynch said HBI and KKG took all opinions into consideration while developing the final plan, saying the final plan is a “direct result of these discussions.”

Jack DeMotte, who has chaired the HBI Town Square Committee, noted that the unveiling of the master site plan, while it is a big step in the process, is only one step. 

“HBI and the community have been very fortunate to have had the support of so many throughout this process, ranging from state government to the many local citizens who have made financial commitments to the project and who have sat on the Town Square Committee,” he said. “This project will make such a difference in our downtown for generations, removing an abandoned building and an environmental hazard and replacing it with a public gathering place in the heart of the downtown. Now another hard and important step begins, the securing of funds for the actual construction.”

KKG principal Brian Kinzelman, a landscape architect and certified planner in his own right, said, “Our firm is passionate about making this the very finest that it can be. Brookville is truly a gem, ,and your Main Street is what other downtowns try to be: A mix of outstanding historic architecture with a variety of uses, ranging from government to restaurants, residential occupancy, offices, retail and specialty shops.
“Any number of less desirable things could have happened on this site, and the opportunity presented by the Town Square project occurs only once in perhaps a hundred years or more. HBI and the community are to be commended for taking advantage of it,” he said.

The April 7 community meeting is open to the public.

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