Cumberland eyes pavilion for markets, festivals

A rusted, run-down pavilion once used to unload lumber from railroad cars could be the next community event center along the Pennsy Trail in Cumberland.

Town officials are eyeing a $1 million project to turn the former Schreiber Lumber pavilion near Carroll Road into a trailhead to host farmers markets, festivals, fundraisers and more.

While officials are excited about the possibilities, how to pay for the project remains an obstacle. The estimated cost includes new parking spaces, public restrooms, bicycle racks, landscaping and an event lawn for outdoor concerts. Restoring the 45-year-old pavilion alone will cost roughly $418,000.

For Christine Owens, the town's director of planning and development, the dream is worth it.

"You just can't recreate this," Owens told the Daily Reporter of Greenfield as she stood under the curved beams of the pavilion.

She acknowledged it looks pretty rough now, and it might actually be less expensive to tear the structure down and build something brand new. But Owens envisions an area that builds upon the town's history.

"It's like, how can we not try to save it if it's sound?" Owens said. "This could be one of those places that says, 'This is Cumberland.'"

The town acquired the property from Schreiber Lumber while obtaining right of way to build the Pennsy Trail, which runs along the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad line. Eventually the trail is expected to run from the east side of Indianapolis, through Cumberland and into Greenfield.

Owens said it was in the plans since 2011 to redesign the area for the community, and in 2013, architectural renderings were created to show what the area could look like. This summer, council members discussed how to raise the money to make the dream a reality.

Anna Pea, member of the town council and the Cumberland Redevelopment Commission, said the council doesn't want to use tax money for the project. Instead, members will be seeking corporate sponsors and a community fundraising program. Grants will also be sought, with local money coming from donations. Bricks or benches might be sold to raise money, for example, and match a state grant, which usually requires a 20 percent local match from communities.

Another idea for raising funds, Owens added, would be to create a tax increment finance district for the area, generating property tax dollars from new development for community projects.

Pea said the possibilities for the pavilion are seemingly endless, from expanding on festivals it already has and placing vendors along the trail to playing host to new events.

"We could do like a big community garage sale; chili cook-offs; rib cook-offs," she said. "We could have outdoor concerts; we could have outdoor movies."

She'd even like to see a hearth area or a bonfire pit for wintertime festivals, like the Weihnachtsmarkt German Christmas festival.

Ray Schreiber, who owns Schreiber Lumber with his brother, Roy, says the idea of a community pavilion is a good one. Hearing that it would cost more than $400,000 to renovate the pavilion alone, he added, is surprising since his dad, Harold, probably got a good deal on the structure back in the late 1960s.

"There used to be a rail siding there when the railroad went through, and we would bring carloads of laminated beams, 72-foot long, and we'd unload them," Schreiber said. "We'd use that to stage the beams, cut them various lengths."

Schreiber said the arched structure makes for difficult upkeep – right now, wooden roofing has cracked or fallen out in places, and the exterior has rusted. Still, Schreiber said it would be a great addition to the community and a tribute to the family company with a 60-year history in Cumberland. The company's facilities are now located a short distance away on South Munsie Street.

Owens said it will take time to see the projection come to fruition. It will probably have to be done in phases, with the pavilion stabilized first. The ancillary projects of clearing a storage hut for parking, adding restrooms and an event lawn will come over time, she said, as money allows.

Owens will be looking for local businesses to sponsor the project. If one donates enough – a price not yet determined – the pavilion could be named after the business.

"You could have some great events under here," Owens said. "I would like to see the building done in the next five years. . If we're lucky and successful, two or three."

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