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November 24, 2013

EDITORIAL: ISU’s plan will help fuel positive developments

TERRE HAUTE — When it comes to long-term visions for improvements in Terre Haute, the involvement of Indiana State University typically means a project will happen. As its recent track record shows, ISU generally turns its plans into realities.

A sign of greater things ahead for the community emerged last week. The State Budget Committee — comprised of Indiana Senate and House legislators — approved on Wednesday two projects planned by ISU totaling $20 million. One involves a $16-million renovation of 103-year-old Normal Hall into a Student Center for Success, a hub for students to get academic advice, tutoring and mentoring. The effort will give the structure, in the heart of the campus, a second life as a place that keeps young people on the right course to graduate and, ideally, then live, work and raise a family in Terre Haute.

The second ISU initiative OK’d by the Budget Committee involves moving the university’s track and field complex — Marks Field, currently on the east side of Third Street, north of Chestnut Street. The facility’s new destination will be the west side of Third Street. The move presents several positive changes. The new complex will meet requirements for ISU to serve as host for Missouri Valley Conference and NCAA competitions. The relocation will open up space at the current field site for much-needed parking, especially with the university’s enrollment growing. The $4.3-million project — financed through interest income, private donations and revenue from commissions — features one other significant point of progress.

It will bring new activity and development along the Wabash River.

Anyone living in the Terre Haute area has witnessed at least some aspect of the energetic, awareness raising 2013 Year of the River celebration. Through dozens of special events, activities, festivals, art exhibitions, music projects, boat excursions and environmental cleanups, the community has learned more, this year, about its greatest natural resource than ever. The goals of river advocates — embodied in efforts such as Riverscape and the Wabashiki wetlands — have received a spotlight. Problems have been analyzed more closely. The short- and long-term future of the Wabash has been a topic of discussion.

ISU intends to seek bids on the new track and field complex in the spring and have it constructed by autumn of 2014. The development by ISU should become a catalyst for more of the community’s ideas to come true, one after another, as Terre Haute begins to realize the dream of enhancing the fabled Wabash.

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