Shelburn takes major step in beautification, improvement plan Friday

Tribune-Star/Howard GreningerThe front section of the former Ken Hagen Manufacturing Co Inc., a former plastics molding business, is demolished Friday as part of the town of Shelburn's improvement and beautification plan. The town plans to turn the site into a city park, with a splash pad, within the next two years.   

The town of Shelburn on Friday began demolition of a second downtown structure, part of its improvement and beautification plan that includes creating a new park.

The K H Manufacturing building, formerly called Ken Hagen Manufacturing Co Inc., at 22 E. Mill St., was demolished to make way for a new downtown park — to include a splash pad, playground equipment and pavilion — within the next two years, said Jay Southwood, 60, clerk/treasurer for Shelburn.

"I am from here, born in 1960, and I remember this plastic plant. It was vibrant and employed 40 to 45 people," Southwood said. "But it became a public safety hazard" as its roof collapsed.

The company, which was a plastics research-and-design, manufacturing and assembly company, was incorporated from 1956 until 2002 and was located in a building that first served as a grocery store. Hagen died in 2006. His daughter donated three lots of the former manufacturing site to the town in August.

However, the town previously did not take ownership of the property until the U.S. EPA cleaned out hazardous substances from the building in 2018. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management then monitored the site and cleared it for use, Southwood said.

"This has been at least a 2 1/2 year process to get this down," he said of the former manufacturing facility.

The town intends to use local income tax to issue a bond of between $1.6 million to $2.3 million for its beautification plan, Southwood said. Of that, about $750,000 would be used for the new park, to be located between North Thomas Street and North Railroad Street, he said.

Carr-Thomas Construction of Linton in June demolished a former tavern at 16 N. Washington St., and was selected by the town to demolish the Hagen building. The town is also demolishing several old homes and has spent about $400,000 of its portion of a county local income tax to pave streets this year, Southwood said.

Southwood said the town could not make such improvements without local income tax money.

"I want to leave this town better than when I took office," said Southwood, who was first appointed clerk-treasurer in September 1983, then ran for office. He is serving his ninth term in office. "I want to clean it up and make it to where people want to come and live here," he said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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