Adding beauty and attracting new visitors and businesses to downtown was one of Boonville Mayor Charlie Wyatt’s top priorities when he took office in 2016. Now the downtown square of this small town in Warrick County is a suitable destination for those looking to eat, shop, and walk.
“When I ran for office, 95 percent of everything anybody asked for was sidewalks, sidewalks, sidewalks, and sidewalks,” he says. “It wasn’t hard for me to say ‘OK, I think this square project is where we’ll start.’”
The revitalized downtown square features expanded sidewalks, enhanced lighting, new traffic lights, ADA compliant ramps, and crosswalks.
Working with the Boonville City Council, along with other organizations such as INDOT, Boonville Now, Boonville Merchants Association, and the Warrick County Commissioners, Wyatt secured funds for the project through general obligation bonds and downtown revitalization bonds that were collected over three years.
The total cost of construction was $2.7 million between funds spent by both the city and Warrick County.
New businesses that have opened on the square since the renova- tions include 2nd Street Bistro and Bakery, 3rd Street Saloon, Sassa- Frassy’s Antique Store, two vape shops, and The Tattoo Shop on Locust Street with more businesses expected to open in the coming years.
The square renovation is just Phase 1 of a two-part revitalization effort for downtown Boonville. Wyatt says the second phase includes
installing two arches — one spanning Main Street and one spanning Locust Street — that will have the word “Boonville” engraved on them along with the city emblem. More sidewalk updates are also planned for Phase 2.
The project was completed in October 2019 — in time for the square’s most popular annual event, the Boonville Square Flair, a festival featuring live music, barbecue, bounce houses, pumpkin painting, and other games. The Square Flair will return this October after being cancelled in 2020.
“The citizens of Boonville were walking around the square with smiles on their faces,” he says. “They were happy. I saw people that I hadn’t seen out for years, but they wanted to come up and see what the square was like.”
The city’s next project is renovations to Third Street, starting at Main Street and going all the way to Lovers Lane on the north side of the city. The plan calls for burying major utility lines along the thoroughfare under new curbs and sidewalks.