The town of Leo-Cedarville broke ground on its downtown streetscape project Aug. 5. The project is part of the NewAllen Alliance’s East Allen Rural Revival Regional Development Plan. Pictured from the left are NewAllen Alliance Vice President Barb Smith, Leo-Cedarville Town Council President John Eastes, Leo-Cedarville Town Council member Greg Peck, Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters and Leo-Cedarville Town Council member Chris Adams.

It’s been nearly 25 years since Leo-Cedarville’s first Town Council was formed. On that night in January 1996, progress was set in motion, current Town Council President John Eastes told a crowd gathered downtown for the Aug. 5 groundbreaking of the town’s streetscape revitalization project.

“I believe that we would absolutely be remiss if we did not remember that there were others that walked this road before us,” Eastes said.

The project is part of the NewAllen Alliance’s East Allen Rural Revival Regional Development Plan, which helped the region earn an Indiana Regional Stellar Community designation in 2018. Through that program, Leo-Cedarville was awarded $750,000 in funding by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs last spring.

“Without that, I don’t think this program would actually be happening today,” Eastes said.

Local match funding of $428,772 will help complete the nearly $1.2 million project, which will revitalize two blocks of Center Street from Hosler Road to Walnut Street in downtown Leo-Cedarville. The project will add ADA-compliant ramps and complete sidewalks, repaved streets with crosswalks and regulatory signage, new thematic lighting, planter boxes with greenery, drainage upgrades and a downtown gathering place.

All of that will contribute to the town’s efforts to “create economic opportunity by developing a pedestrian-friendly, safe downtown area,” Eastes said. “We’re trying to increase public awareness for our existing businesses and the businesses that will join them in the future.”

Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters applauded that effort, stating he believes the project will help draw more people to the town. “Public safety, walking places for people, better drainage for people, better lighted streets, economic development — you can’t help but want to come to a place that is pretty, that’s doing things for its people”

The streetscape project is being constructed by API Construction. Completion is planned for December 2020, while some incidental work may continue until May 2021. The project area will remain open to local traffic, and non-local traffic will be detoured during construction.

NewAllen Alliance’s East Allen Revival Plan includes quality-of-place improvements within the seven communities of Harlan, Hoagland, Grabill, Leo-Cedarville, Monroeville, New Haven and Woodburn. The plan totals $65 million worth of projects focusing on downtowns, parks, sidewalks, trails, housing and community health.

Leo-Cedarville’s streetscape project will complement similar improvements being planned for the town of Grabill in 2021. Additionally, the Cedar Creek Parks Trail from Allen County’s Matea Park through Leo-Cedarville and Grabill north to Hurshtown Reservoir is planned for a 2021-23 timeframe.

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