The Chapel at Springdale Cemetery in downtown Madison has been falling more and more into disrepair for years but there is a plan now to revitalize the Gothic Revival chapel constructed in the 1930s and designed by architect Frederick Wallick.
Don McKay, president of the non-profit Springdale Cemetery Association, and John Muessel, secretary-treasurer, were at Thursday’s Jefferson County Commissioner meeting asking for $25,000 from the county’s Historic Preservation Fund toward what they estimate will be a $65,000 project.
No decision was made by the Commissioners, who said they will take the request under consideration, but if they decide to dedicate funds to the project it will require an additional appropriation from the Jefferson County Council, which would make the final decision on where the money would come.
Muessel noted that the primary task of the cemetery association is to maintain the grounds and records of the cemetery. “That consumes all of our budget,” he said, noting the nonprofit cemetery receives no government funding. Funds for any other projects must come through fundraisers.
Muessel said the chapel was built with private funds but over the years it hasn’t been maintained and has been victimized by vandals. “What we’re trying to do is to raise funds for renovations to the chapel so that it can be an asset to the cemetery to use for memorial services, burials during bad weather, cremation services” and available for other uses by the general public.
He also anticipates that the chapel could generate revenue for the cemetery with fees that might be charged for certain types of special uses.
“It’s a very nice, historic building,” said Muessel.
A document detailing Madison’s National Historic Landmark District from the National Park Service describes the chapel as constructed of dressed stone with imitation quoins, corner buttresses, stained glass windows, and a gable front roof with crockets, and a raised parapet with dressed coping.
One of the most expensive repairs to the chapel, said Muessel, will be the stained glass windows that have been vandalized. He said the $65,000 overall cost comes from tallying up estimates he’s received from contractors.
Muessel said Springdale Cemetery Association has reached out to Rhonda Deeg, owner of RLD Glass Art and Restoration, to assist with the stained glass window restoration, Madison Ironworks to repair the metal frames of the stained glass windows and Glass Unlimited to acquire protective shields to preserve the stained glass windows once repaired.
Another repair issue Muessel cited is that water is running downhill into the basement of the chapel, which is now in need of drainage repair. Additionally, he said the inside of the chapel needs to be “spruced up.”
In addition to seeking funds from the county, Muessel said the association is also applying for a PACE (Preservation and Community Enhancement Grant) from the city of Madison. If the cemetery is able to receive the county contribution and the PACE grant, the cemetery association would rely on additional fundraising for the other funds needed.
“What we’re trying to do is getting it back to where it’s an asset to the community, it can help the cemetery and help the public too,” he said.
In other business, the Commissioners:
• Elected Bobby Little president of the board, replacing Ron Lee, who had served as president in 2022.
• Heard the annual Board of Finance report from County Treasurer Meghan Hoskins. Hoskins reported the total interest earned from various accounts totaled $173,259.01, a significant increase over 2021 when interest totaled $55,501.25.
Hoskins also reported that 31 properties went to tax sale in 2022 with all but one being sold. She said the property that did not sell last year is the same property that had not sold the previous year.
County Auditor Heather Huff said that there could be a Commissioners sale for that one property where instead of collecting back taxes, it could be sold in its current condition to the highest bidder. Huff said the property is located in Deputy and has been used for storage.
• Approved a tax calculation with Reedy Financial required for having the bonds that were issued on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Center that’s under construction. Huff said the calculation is required during the first year of the bond issue and then every five years after that. She said the jail bond money covers the cost of the tax calculation.
• Approved an agreement with Pettit and Associates on section corners for the year as part of the state statute in surveying to maintain accurate land boundaries.
• Little reported “things are moving around quite well” on the jail construction with work beginning to be done outside including landscaping, roads and curbing.
Members of the John Paul Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in Madison, attended Wednesday’s Madison Parks Board meeting to talk about how they hope to collaborate with the city of Madison for the beautification of the park dedicated to their namesake.
The park, originally a cemetery on grounds given to the city by founder and chapter namesake, John Paul, became Madison’s first city park in 1904.
“We asked for this meeting just to make the Parks Board aware and understand our interest in John Paul Park,” said Ann Roller, a regent with the John Paul Chapter of DAR and chair of the organization’s John Paul Park committee. “DAR is committed to a long-term investment in the park. We’re hoping that working together we can get a lot more accomplished and improve the park.”
Roller was joined at the meeting by committee members Hilary Beall and Phyllis Steinhardt. She explained that a group began raising money in 2007 for major improvements to the park and the funds went to the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County. In 2017, DAR received notification that money from the John Paul Park Conservancy Endowment would be coming annually to the organization to invest in John Paul Park.
She noted it’s not a large amount of money; but that DAR has been receiving the funds for five years and it’s averaged $840 per year. DAR established the park committee in 2017 and began working with the city while Damon Welch was mayor to make improvements.
During that time, Roller said the slate roof on the tool shed was repaired, overgrown shrubs were removed and the gazebo was cleaned and painted. Later, DAR worked with the city in designing walking paths through the park and restoring five benches that the city installed.
DAR has plans for twice-a-year cleanup days at John Paul Park. The most recent was held on Oct. 11, the anniversary of DAR’s founding.
Roller said DAR has established three priorities and the first will focus on the base of the former fountain at the park.
“If you go to John Paul Park, it’s a lovely park as it is, but the fountain is just an eyesore,” Roller said. The plan is to power-wash and repair the fountain base and bring it back as close as possible to how the original base looked. During that process, soil will be removed from within the base and then be replaced after restoration is complete. The fountain restoration project will be funded completely by DAR.
The second priority will be the park’s trees. “There are original trees that are in the park,” she said, and in working with the city’s Tree Board, the DAR committee wants to identify the trees, and then consider whether any trees need to be added or removed. Additionally, there are stumps in the park that the committee would like to remove.
The third priority is access to water. “We would really like water brought to that park. When we went in the fall to clean the stones, we had to bring water in buckets just to wash those stones and do any work,” Roller said. With better access to water, even more cleaning could be done.
Roller said the request for water is not related to the fountain — there are no plans to attempt to make it once again operational — or for public access to water. She said the goal is to make it easier to conduct work projects to maintain and beautify the park. She is hopeful something can be done similar to the city’s Jefferson Street parking lot where there is a key access to water that is used by the Valley Hills Garden Club for its beautification and maintenance efforts there.
Parks Director Matt Woolard said there have already been discussions about providing water access to John Paul Park. “Because there was a fountain at one point at time, there was water access (in the past), but no longer. That has essentially eroded away,” he said.
However, Woolard said contacts have been made to determine ways of providing water access to the park but they need to be mindful in how that is done. “That was a former cemetery so we want to be sure we don’t encroach on anything we shouldn’t” but water “is something we want to bring there. It’s just going to make everyone’s life easier so we can beautify that area more and take care of it better.”
Woolard also suggested the possibility of bringing electricity to the park that would allow the gazebo to be decorated with Christmas lights. Roller agreed that electricity would also benefit the park. “Electricity was also on our list (for improvements), but we thought water first.”
Roller expressed appreciation to the city for working with DAR on past improvements at John Paul Park, specifically noting help from Woolard and Street Supervisor Tony Sorrells.
“I wanted the board to understand our interest and commitment to improving John Paul Park, and we hope it will be as high a priority with you as it is with us,” she said.
In addition to the money from the endowment, Roller said DAR is utilizing other donations to support its work at John Paul Park including one from the Genealogical Society, while also seeking grant funding.
Woolard expressed his appreciation for DAR’s dedication to John Paul Park. “We really couldn’t do half of what we do without these kind of public-private partnerships,” he said. “We’re elated” to be working with DAR on the John Paul Park improvements.
Madison’s Board of Public Works and Safety (BPWS) received updates on several projects that are moving forward or nearing completion at its meeting on Tuesday.
Brian Jackson, the city’s superintendent of utilities, said the notice to proceed on the city of Madison’s water infrastructure project was like to come next week while Nicole Schell, the city’s director of planning, said some work remains on the Crystal Beach pool house but the project is very close to completion.
Although bids for the water project have been awarded, contractors are waiting on a notice to proceed before the work can actually begin. Jackson said Rob Bellucci, project manager for Commonwealth Engineers, is working to organize a pre-construction meeting that involves engineers, State Revolving Fund (SRF) personnel, contractors, the labor standards consultants and city officials. “He’s trying to put together a date that works for everybody together,” said Jackson, who anticipates that will be next week followed by the notice to proceed.
Jackson said contractors have already begun preparing to go to work. “Some of them have already started ordering supplies,” he said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the BPWS approved disbursements to Commonwealth Engineers to pay for final design, soil borings and regulatory work, erosion control and regulatory work, and bidding and negotiation.
Meanwhile, change orders were approved for the Crystal Beach pool house for additional light fixtures and updating paint totaling $2,342.
Schell said no occupancy date has been set for the pool house. “We’re still working through the punch list but the engineers and the contractor team are meeting weekly to find out where they’re at on that progress.”
Schell said the elevator — one of the biggest hangups — is expected to operational once the phone line is installed which she expects to take place this week.
The board also approved a lighting service agreement with Duke Energy on decorative lighting for Michigan Road from Clifty Drive to near the entrance of Anderson Elementary School — the area that will be Shoppes of Sunrise Crossing and Residences of Sunrise Crossing.
Tony Steinhardt III, the city’s director of economic development, said Duke Energy’s ability to provide decorative lighting takes the responsibility away from the city for maintenance but the agreement adds $338 per month to the city’s Duke Energy bill. Steinhardt said cobra lights in that area will be replaced with 15 decorative lights to match what’s at the new approach off the Milton-Madison Bridge.
He said the new decorative lights, which are also LED and more efficient, will be owned by Duke Energy. “Most of the lights in our downtown community are owned by the city and have to be maintained by the city, so when accidents happen we have to go repair them,” said Steinhardt, but the new lights on Michigan Road will be the responsibility of Duke Energy to maintain.
“We have some other exciting news coming in the next few weeks with Duke Energy on some other projects as well,” said Steinhardt. “It’s been a good conversation with Duke Energy over the last few months, and this a good opportunity to move that project forward.”
In other business the BPWS:
• Approved a PACE midpoint award of $12,500 to Matt Findley at 615 Mulberry St., a dilapidated structure. Board member David Carlow commended the work being done there, noting that for many years the house was vacant, and it’s wonderful to see that it will be occupied again.
• Approved a final PACE award of $3,750 to William Adams at 220 E. Main St. in which half of the disbursement has already been received for tuck pointing, window repair and metal siding in the back of the building.
• Approved an annual legal services contract with Joe Jenner through the firm, Jenner, Pattison and Sharpe, at a $1,250 retainer per month for 2023.
Two previously announced candidates for Madison mayor made it official this week when Bob Courtney and Dan Dattilo filed for the May 2023 primary.
Democrat Dan Dattilo filed his candidacy papers Wednesday, the first day that a declaration of candidacy could be made for this year’s municipal elections, while Courtney, the Republican incumbent, filed his paperwork Thursday morning.
Both Courtney and Dattilo had announced their intentions to seek the office last month.
Dattilo is now in his second term as City Councilman At-Large and served as acting Mayor following the unexpected death of Mayor Damon Welch on Sept. 25, 2019.
Courtney, who was already a candidate for Mayor in 2019, was selected in a Republican caucus to complete Welch’s unexpired term and was sworn into office Oct. 14, 2019. He was then elected in that year’s general election and now in the fourth year of his first complete term of office.
In addition to mayor, other Madison city offices on the ballot this year include clerk-treasurer, five council districts and two council at-large seats.
Patrick Thevenow, the Republican incumbent office holder for Madison City Council District 1, filed for reelection later on Friday and is the only candidate so far for city council.
The filing deadline is noon on Friday, Feb. 3. Primary election day will be Tuesday, May 2, with the general election Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Although new cases COVID-19 are declining in Jefferson County, the Indiana Department of Health reported another new death this week increasing the county’s death toll to 164 for the pandemic.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Jefferson County’s COVID-19 community level improved to “low” this week after being “medium” last week. State data showed the seven-day case average for Jefferson County at eight.
The COVID-19 community level is also low in Carroll, Switzerland and Trimble counties. The seven-day case average for Switzerland County was one. Meanwhile, in the last week, Trimble County has had four cases of COVID-19 and Carroll County has had 3.
Death totals remain the same for Carroll at 54, Trimble at 47 and Switzerland at 21.