Demolition makes way for Bargersville downtown event space

Before the end of next year, Bargersville town officials envision a new plaza, complete with a stage, public restrooms and green space.

Show feed producer Roy Umbarger & Sons Inc. transferred the 0.79-acre property east of the railroad tracks and southwest of Old Plank Road and Baldwin Street to Bargersville town officials Jan 4, 2022. The property is valued at $173,000, according to online property records.

Construction crews began demolition on a grain bin and two one-story buildings on the property last week to prepare for the Umbarger Plaza project, and that demolition is expected to be complete in a month. Town officials considered preserving the grain bin on the site as part of the plaza, but couldn’t justify the cost of maintaining it, Town Manager Dan Cartwright said.

The landmark Umbarger grain elevator on County Road 144 near the railroad tracks will remain standing directly across Baldwin Street and is not part of the plaza project, he said.

Construction for the plaza will take place throughout next year. The total budget for the project won’t be finalized until designs are completed in late spring or early summer, with the Bargersville Redevelopment Commission overseeing the project, Cartwright said.

“The Umbarger family sold that land to the (Bargersville) Redevelopment Commission and the consideration was for us to build a plaza there and name it after the Umbarger family. We are going to be building a plaza that will have a stage and will be used as an outdoor activity space,” Cartwright said. “We will try and resemble the roof of a grain bin as much as we can for the roof of the stage structures.”

Along with the stage and greenspace, the plaza will include public restrooms, which have been a need for events and the farmers market. Town officials also plan to improve an existing parking lot near the Pizza & Libations restaurant near the south end of the plaza property, he said.

When the plaza opens, it will serve as a prime gathering space for Bargersville residents, Cartwright said.

“Our parks department will be actively working on bands, concerts and downtown activities,” Cartwright said. “It’s going to be a place you can go to near downtown establishments and on a pretty night you can sit in the park.”

The plaza is the latest in a series of changes in the growing town of more than 10,000 residents. Town officials hired Kris Wilson, who served as the parks superintendent in Mooresville, to be Bargersville’s first parks director in January. Town leaders are now preparing to open Kephart Park, a $3.5 million, six-acre park at County Road 144 and Saddle Club Road, which has a tentative opening date of June 30, according to town officials.

The park will feature a splash pad, pickleball courts, restrooms, an area for grilling, a trail and playground equipment. As part of a fiber internet expansion with Metronet and Johnson County Fiber, Kephart Park will be the first in Bargersville with WiFi.

Throughout last year, town leaders worked with Franklin, Tennessee-based marketing consultant Chandlerthinks on a $60,000 rebranding effort to establish prominent themes for the town to embrace and a town motto: “Bargersville: A Growing Legacy.” Town leaders also unveiled a new town logo, depicting a sun rising over a field, on the town’s Facebook page in February.