CHURUBUSCO — The Franklin Promenade in Churubusco is nearly completed and will officially be open July 7, when there will be a special ceremony for it.

The space was originally a dark and uninviting alleyway between 111 N. Main St. and 115 N. Main St.. Madalyn Sade-Bartl, the clerk-treasurer for Churubusco, said the idea for the Franklin Promenade started with Pokémon Go.

The smartphone application is an augmented reality game in which players must travel outside their homes to capture Pokémon, or pocket monsters, with Poké Balls. In order to collect more Poké Balls, the game requires players to stop at Pokéstops. One of the Pokéstops in Churubusco was in the alley, and while playing the game with her family, Sade-Bartl considered the idea to turn the gloomy alleyway into a welcoming community space.

As more green space and downtown renovations were requested by the community in a survey conducted by the town, a makeover for the alley was the perfect fit. Alongside Jeremy Hart, Churubusco’s town supervisor, Sade-Bartl began planning how to flip the space into a walkway and pocket park. They utilized the Churubusco Elementary School Courtyard Club for the park’s landscaping needs.

The promenade was originally set to be open for Churubsco’s Turtle Days, the oldest continuously held festival in Indiana. However, the unanticipated cold and wet spring delayed the project.

Once the ground finally thawed in late spring, storms flooded the alleyway nearly every time it was dug up. Some of the items found while digging include old drainage tiles and crumbling bricks dated back over 150 years.

Despite its later-than-planned start, the Franklin Promenade is only a few weeks behind schedule. Some of its features include flowers and foliage, a table with a chess board, a winding sidewalk and an unobstructed view of the Shroyer True Value Hardware Store’s building-long mural. The mural, completed in 2003 by Shroyer employees, depicts details of historic Churubusco; featuring the mural was an important piece of planning the promenade. The space also was designed to match the Main Street improvements completed in the last few years.

Future plans for the promenade include expanding to reach the Churubusco Public Library. Events held at the Franklin Promenade will include concerts, wine tasting and fundraisers. There is currently an anticipated library fundraiser sometime in early autumn.

The Franklin Promenade grand opening will be held Saturday, July 7. The ribbon-cutting and dedication begins at 4:30 p.m. followed by a performance by local band Swick and Jones at 5 p.m. Refreshments will also be available.

“Come by and enjoy the newest park,” said Sade-Bartl.

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