Cambridge City’s council approved about $30,000 more in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward a permanent venue for outdoor concerts, movies and other events, although donations could reduce the town’s share. 

No one spoke during a public hearing about the project behind the fire station during council’s Jan. 8 meeting.

A hard surface would be added for a dance floor and seating for those with disabilities/mobility issues.    

Lighting would be added to improve safety for those leaving after events. 

Other ideas include informal seating with movable tables and chairs, games like foosball and cornhole, and parking areas for food trucks and guests.  

The town is seeking $450,000 for the venue from Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs’ Community Development Block Grants through the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program. 

Cambridge City is now pledging $180,000 ($150,000 from the town when $119,000 was previously approved; $25,000 from SugarCreek Packing Co. and $5,000 from Wayne County’s tourism bureau).  

About $56,000 was trimmed from the $650,000 initial plans, much of it the contingency funding, to make sure matching funds were secured by this month’s state deadline. Site design work is being donated. 

Town Attorney Bob Bever is working to resolve an issue discovered during site planning that officials want to clear up before more efforts are underway. Ownership of the land under the longtime fire station isn’t clear.


Later in the meeting, a new issue at Creitz Park came to council’s attention. 

Fire Chief Jeff Gabbard was pleased to share that $5,200 in donations had been received from holiday lights visitors.

However, he asked for additional security cameras in the park to protect the town’s lights displays and other investments because of costly vandalism in 2023.

“They’re working hard to destroy the stuff in the park … It was really terrible this year,” Gabbard said. Much of the damage was in small amounts, so it couldn’t be claimed on insurance.

Vandals removed one 8-foot display worth $17,000 and tried to throw it in the river, Gabbard said. He said a disc golf basket was removed from the ground, and councilor Jim McLane said he fished a piece of playground equipment out of the river. 

Police Chief Richard Roberts agreed and said it’s time to upgrade the park’s current cameras too. 

Park committee members will research and recommend solutions. 

In other business

  • Council elected McLane as president and Mike Amick as vice president and welcomed new members Gary Cole and Jim King. 
  • Some councilors will oversee different town departments. Those now include: Fire (King), police (McLane) and water (Cole). 
  • Council accepted Thomas Pitcher’s $200 bid for land on Front Street that he already maintains. It also approved a one-year lease with RL Myers Family Farms LLC to farm about 16 acres adjoining Riverside Cemetery for $150 per acre.  
  • Council renewed fire protection contracts with Jackson Township, $15,500; East Germantown, $3,000; and Mt. Auburn, $1,400, at their 2023 cost. 
  • Council approved Miller’s Wood Specialty’s $500 donations to fire and police departments. 
  • State officials have closed Phase 1A of the water improvement project. Consultant Mike Kleinpeter complimented Clerk-Treasurer Sherry Ervin for no paperwork errors. 
  • Council learned that Culy Contracting is behind schedule on meeting the Phase 1B industrial park water project’s early February final deadline because it wasn’t substantially completed in early January. Council authorized Bever to say they’ll likely impose the full $1,400 daily penalty when the deadline passes. A delay could mean additional engineering and consulting costs. 

Blight updates

A potential buyer came forward for 411 and 415 W. Front St., recently confirmed as unsafe and needing demolition. He is still negotiating with the owner, who couldn’t attend. She had asked for an extension after receiving council’s ruling. Risch received an informal estimate of $18,800 to demolish the two homes. The prospective buyer said he would demolish them immediately and will stay in touch with Ken Risch, public works superintendent.

Risch is also communicating with owners of 14 N. Plum, 308 W. Main St. and 502 E. Main St. about cluttered yards. Volunteers are willing to haul away debris, but owners need to ask Risch for help so fines can be stopped. Risch wrote to 314 W. Main’s out-of-state owner that it could be deemed unsafe.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 17 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.