Hammond Downtown Development District to revamp public space on W. Thomas Street


Brynn Lundy/The Lion’s Roar

The space behind the Downtown Development District, located on W. Thomas Street next to the railroad tracks, is going to be repurposed. The DDD has been hosting public interest meetings in order to come up with a plan for the space.

The Hammond Downtown Development District has allocated funds and is currently developing a plan called the “Urban Park Project” to renovate and improve the public space behind the district’s headquarters.

Located at #2 W. Thomas St., the area will be transformed into a hangout space for Hammond residents and visitors.

Hammond DDD Executive Director Chelsea Tallo Little elaborated on why the district chose this location for the project.

“Firstly, it’s the literal center of our downtown district,” said Tallo Little. “With that in mind, we have envisioned a space that can warmly welcome new visitors, as well as accommodate those who already use it on a daily basis. Secondly, this will give us the opportunity to correct some minor safety hazards in this space: uneven ground, etc. And lastly, this project will address and ultimately correct the issue of unsafe parking and sidewalks along SW Railroad Avenue.”

The DDD took out a $300,000 bond in 2018 to put toward improving this part of downtown. According to Tallo Little and the DDD website, the original intent for the project was to use the funds to construct a pavilion on this area of land. The DDD’s “Pavilion Location Committee,” formed several months ago, and the board made the collective decision to build the pavilion elsewhere.

“After careful consideration and discussion, the committee and newly-elected board have decided to go in a different direction with this location,” shared Tallo Little. “Many legal and zoning obstacles presented themselves, and the board felt it was best to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate all possibilities for this downtown area.”

Tallo Little detailed the process that led to the project’s initiation and discussed the various contributors.

“Updating this area has been part of all the DDD recent Master Plans, including the latest 2019 edition. Our board and committee members have discussed this project for quite some time,” explained Tallo Little. “As mentioned before, the board appointed a ‘Pavilion Location Committee’ to scout out the best options for a new community space in our district. After a few meetings, the committee voted and recommended to the Board of Directors that, first and foremost, the bond-issued money should be spent renovating this location. This was also recommended by our Design Committee.”

To gather ideas for the initiation of this project, the DDD held four public sessions during the first two weeks of November for the members of the Hammond community to contribute their input as to what they would like the public space to look like.

“While we’ve received a variety of responses from our community members, we are encouraged by the overall positive reaction to our proposed ideas,” shared Tallo Little. “For the most part, community members support the renovation of this area and are eager to see plans.”

According to Tallo, the project currently has no start or completion date, but she explained what the next step in the process, a DDD Board Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, will entail.

“At our last Design Committee meeting, a motion was passed to recommend that the DDD Board of Directors hire Roy Dufreche and Tom Pistorius for the design and best-use strategy for the Urban Park Project,” said Little. “The Board will vote on this recommendation at our Nov. 18 meeting.”

The executive director commented on how the DDD ultimately makes decisions on projects and other community events.

“We highly value and thoroughly consider the input of our community members when deciding on a project, event or course of action,” shared Tallo Little. “We also rely heavily on the expertise of our Board of Directors, Design Committee, local professionals in a variety of fields and other city representatives to inform any decisions.”

For more information regarding the Urban Park Project, visit dddhammond.com or Instagram @downtownhammondla. The DDD also has an online survey available for those who did not attend a public input session or wants to provide additional feedback.