After a year of renovations in the works around the courthouse square in Boonville, the project is nearly complete.

City officials celebrated this monumental project during the annual Boonville Merchant's Association sponsored Square Flair, which started Friday with a proclamation and ribbon-cutting by Boonville City Mayor Charlie Wyatt and lasted all day Saturday with eating contests, music, a magic show and pet parade.

Wyatt said this project started over four years ago under the guise of past mayor Pam Hendrickson.

"Without her leadership, we'd be three years behind on this project," he said. "She approved the bonding process and took it to her city council and pushed for adoption, just a month before her last term ended, thus enabling me and the new city

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council to start laying the groundwork for this project."

The project officially kicked off last September with the revitalization of Second Street. And throughout the year, the streets were turned to one way around the square based on the Indiana Department of Transportation's input to create 24 additional diagonal parking spaces, a huge change for long-time Boonville residents.

"That helps the merchants and people doing business up town," Wyatt said. "They're [INDOT's] roads and they dictate how the traffic pattern and everything flows on the one ways. We adapted and I always said all along, 'The people of Boonville, they're smart enough to figure this out and they did.'"

Wyatt offered thanks to the police officers who helped drivers navigate through the square while the project was still going on.

"[Boonville] police chief Daryl Saltzman and members of [Warrick] FOP 148 were called on to help many travelers sort through the traffic flow," he said. "They were a calming force when traffic got really entangled and they worked a lot of hours directing traffic for the public."

Wyatt said one of the accomplishments of the square project he is most proud of is the new sidewalks.

"If you walked these sidewalks before, they were terrible, caving in, crumbling," he said.

The electric lines were also buried, the water lines were increased for the fire hydrants for fire protection and the meter pits were also redone around the square.

"We ran a four inch pipe from the meter pit to businesses so that if there is a leak, it can be taken care of without tearing sidewalks up," Wyatt said.

But, there are still a few things that need to be wrapped up before the project is officially complete.

"Probably a little into November, we still have some curve work to do on Second and Locust Street," he said. "INDOT has some more drainage issues and at Harold Gunn Pavilion, we're going to add another sidewalk over there."

Although the traffic lights have been installed and the yellow and flashing red lights should be working as of this week, there may be delay with getting all of the lights programmed correctly with the green light.

"[INDOT] upgraded signal lights to [more than] just a standard pole and they are beautiful out here," Wyatt said. "We are very proud of the way they look."

Regardless of the few finishing touches left, Wyatt is so proud of all of the hard work it took amongst many hands to get this project completed.

"Our contractors worked in miserable weather all year long -- rain, snow, sleet, cold, in order to be able to get it done," he said. "And they did a good job of being able to bring it in on time."

And Wyatt said this is just the beginning for Boonville.

"That was our intention: to start here in the center of Boonville and move throughout the entire city," he said. "You go through a lot of towns and their squares are dying and we knew the work we were getting ready to do here would help to revitalize the whole dynamic of the city of Boonville."

Wyatt said there is a pride amongst citizens in Boonville who want to continue to see the city expand.

"We are proud of our city's heritage and we are looking forward to the future. We want to grow and we are growing," he said. "I don't think we have but one building right now that is vacant here in the square that doesn't have a plan for it."

Wyatt said Boonville citizens have been dreaming about a revitalized city square for as long as he can remember.

"We are dedicating this square to all who had that dream," he said.

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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