HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A vision could soon become reality. With $900,000 in READI Grant funds, the Evansville-region is partnering with the design firm Sasaki on a project aimed to connect downtown areas with their riverfronts between Mount Vernon and Newburgh.

“We have no expectations on what we’re going to find coming out of this process, which is one of the reasons we selected such a highly-esteemed contractor as Sasaki,” says Josh Armstrong with the Downtown Evansville Economic Impact District. “We really want to look at all the ideas what’s out there, what’s a great idea.”

Joshua Brooks, who works for Sasaki in Denver, Colorado, says, “Ultimately, the hope would be that the vision and that sort of impact on the riverfront itself could serve as a catalyst for private development and private investment to come into the city.”

Brooks says Sasaki completed a similar project with Smale Park on the Cincinnati riverfront in 2010.

“That park itself has really re-shifted the front door of the city to that river,” explains Brooks. “It stitched together a regional trail system so that could access along the river through downtown. It created an incredible opportunity for people to gather.”

Evansville leaders began working on such a project in December of 2020. Armstrong says development could range from downtown investment and reconfigured traffic patterns, to capitalizing on the new I-69 bridge, adding that the possibilities are plentiful.

“Some of these might be really simple ideas on how to better utilize, let’s say, the waterfront in Newburgh,” explains Armstrong. “Some may be very complex, like taking a look at the water treatment center, the historic water treatment center, and what future that could have.”

Public input sessions and online surveys will begin later this Summer for residents across Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties. Armstrong says this will allow residents to bring their ideas directly to designers and planners. He estimates it will take nearly one year for Sasaki to submit a detailed plan to Evansville Economic Regional Partnership for approval.