The path of progress

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Westfield Lions put clubhouse up for sale as Grand Junction project moves forward

A staple in the Westfield community for the past 55 years may soon disappear. Westfield Lions Club Secretary Jeff Larrison said the organization has hired real estate agent Tyce Carlson and has put the clubhouse and property up for sale.

“We finally realized with Grand Junction becoming more of a reality, it was time,” Larrison said. “We all understand that Grand Junction is coming. It’s going to be a great thing for downtown Westfield.”

The Westfield Lions Club was established in 1930 and initially met at the Community Room of the Westfield Public Library. In 1955 plans were drawn up for a clubhouse to be built on land purchased from the town. With members doing 80 percent of the work, the building was completed in 1958. In 1970 the building was enlarged to 2,400 square feet – nearly double the original space.

“This building has been used by Lions and the community 265 days a year with scouts, 4-H clubs and rentals for birthday parties, showers and auctions,” Lion Bob Benson said. “I can’t tell you how many churches were started here. From a community standpoint, this was and in many ways still is the community center.”

In addition to the community, Larrison said several of the older club members have been attending events at 120 Jersey St. for the past 30 to 40 years.

“It was an emotional decision. It still is emotional,” he said.

The Lions have set the asking price at $500,000 for the 0.585 acres and are now seeking someone interested in the property.

“We’re not under the gun to move yet. We have a couple years to go before we’re forced with an ultimatum to leave. We may not get any interest, we want to see how it goes,” Larrison said. “The city does not intend to buy our property. It’s better for us (financially) if someone else came in.”

“The city has indicated that the area currently occupied by the clubhouse will be developed by a private developer. It’s uncertain at this time who that developer might be or what sort of space or structure(s) might replace the clubhouse,” Lion Dale McCullough stated. “It’s apparent that Westfield is in the path of progress. As improvements to U.S. 31 and Ind. 32 progress, together with the city’s plans for park development, change is inevitable.”

The Lions’ Board of Directors has appointed a committee to consider options for relocating to a meeting place that will best serve the interests of the club, as well as the community. McCullough said that unfortunately for the club, property values in and around Westfield are under pressure from development and are trending sharply upward in price. Along these same lines available vacant land and potential existing buildings for sale as potential sites for a new clubhouse are scarce.

“We don’t know if we’ll buy another place or move to a church or restaurant,” Larrison said. “We have a few different options. We don’t know what we want to do yet … We can’t take out a mortgage because we try to keep dues low.”

Grand Junction update

Westfield Parks Director Melody Jones said seven properties were recently demolished, graded, seeded and covered in straw. Work was completed two weeks ago and two other properties were demolished earlier this year.

“We were hoping it’d stay 60 degrees for a few more weeks. It may just be straw until spring,” Jones said.

Jones said the project’s focus now shifts back to negotiations as the city looks to purchase more properties south of Park Street where the realignment of Mill Street will take place. Within the immediate area of the park, Jones said the city has come to agreements with three and still needs to work on four properties.

“There are a few we still need to negotiate – get the rest of the properties in purchase agreement or purchased outright,” she said. “In order to do the Mill Street extension, additional properties south of that area will be impacted.”

Jones said three properties along Union Street also will be impacted as the city has plans to acquire a slither of backyard space. Jones said no buildings would be affected.

“We packaged the last seven (properties) together. As we acquire, we are demolishing them. In the spring two or three more will come down. It’s to our financial advantage to do several at a time,” she said, adding more homes will be demolished in the summer and next fall.

Jones said the parks department’s goal is to have a major event every single month and something going on every weekend at Grand Junction Park and Plaza. The city is also partnering to host stage productions with symphonies and playhouses.

“Grand Junction will rival with any other entertainment venue in the Indy area,” Jones said. “Grand Junction is the crown jewel of the parks department. It’s our heart in the center of the community. We don’t have a town square or a place people think of as downtown. We’re creating a sense of pride – giving Westfield a community soul.”

City Spokeswoman Erin Verplank said as Grand Park nears completion, the focus shifts slightly to Grand Junction. Verplank said Mayor Andy Cook’s goal is to have some event at Grand Junction next year. Jones said work has been taking place on Grand Junction for the past seven years.

“Our goal is to do this right,” she said. “To bring a level of entertainment to the Westfield community we’ve never had before.”




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