This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Austin Park

Have you visited Austin Park lately? It is the newest city park, a park that someday may be, it dreams come true, one of Rensselaer's finer parks. As the picture below shows, there are not only plans to develop some gardens and walking paths, but also to put a pedestrian bridge across the Iroquois River.
Right now the only part of the dream that has been realized are the lights. They circle around the park lighting an imaginary walkway.The site of Austin Park was a residential area until July of 2003 when Rensselaer got a week of rain and the largest flood it has ever had. Below is a picture of the Washington Street bridge showing how high the water rose.
Can you see College Avenue in the picture below? It is under the brown water. The white house with porch pillars to the left of center was one of the houses on Austin Avenue.
Below is a picture of Austin Avenue from its east end.
And here is the a slightly different view of the same area.
One could also see the seriousness of the flood from the city parking lot north of the river, as the next two pictures show. There were four houses on the north side of Austin that were built early in the 20th century. There were also two ranch houses south of Austin that were built after 1980. I never understood why someone would buy a new home in such a precarious location. Even before the big flood, it was clear that every few years water would rise over Austin.

When the flood waters receded, FEMA and the city decided to buy up the houses and demolish them. They are in a flood plain and it would only be a matter of time until we will have another serious flood. I did not get any really good demolition pictures. The best I have is the one below.
The pile below was what was left of the white house that was in the picture looking down College Avenue.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this bit of land and how it fits into the overall park system.


flatbow said...

I'm surprised at the competent park plan and pedestrian-friendly bridges Rensselaer has started to erect.
You don't find much pedestrian friendly new construction around where I am.

Desert Survivor said...

I remember seeing that park plan several years ago--I hope they put the money aside to make it a reality.

Anonymous said...

This will be wonderful when it is completed. The sad thing is that the million dollar grant does not cover what was originally designed. If they did all the design items from the original plan, it would now cost, after five years of rising costs, 2.3 million dollars. The bridge, lighting, plantings, and sitting areas will be pleasant addition to down town. It should be a good place for music and family gatherings. ja