The Wharton Economic Development Corporation purchased the property of 108 E. Elm Street in hopes of clearing an eyesore within Wharton’s Historic Downtown.
The property contained two abandoned structures in need of serious repair or removal.
“WEDC acquired the land prior to my tenure,” WEDC Executive Director Josh Owens told The County Gin. “[The structures] were degrading and the lot was overgrown.”
Owens continued, “Part of our strategic plan and part of what we are doing in Wharton to help the economy out is to revitalize downtown. We want to make sure that downtown has a pleasant environment, which does not include abandoned buildings.”
The corporation removed the buildings from the property only to be left with a clear, but unpresentable lot.
That’s when local business owner Richard Lockley stepped in to assist WEDC.
“Richard Lockley with Wharton Feed and Supply has been very generous in helping us work and coordinate donations, purchase the sod from local farms and supplying labor,” Owens told The Gin.
Those donations and purchases included sod from area grass farms, and the labor and equipment was provided by Lockley, Restoration City in Hungerford, and Victory in Jesus — a local, christian-based rehabilitation program.
“Josh mentioned he was needing to get the area leveled and cleaned up; they wanted to do a beatification project there,” Lockley said. “Once it was leveled and mowed, that’s when I started reaching out to local farmers to coordinate the sod.”
He continued, “King Ranch Turf Grass, Horizon Turf Grass, and Kubicek Turf Farms all donated grass and worked with our schedule to get the sod cut, ready for pickup and delivery. We did purchase some grass from them, but they each donated as well.”
Dana Arceo, Wharton business owner and downtown reviver, volunteered to water the newly laid sod and mow the lot, adding to the project’s support.
Unpredictable showers caused the project to span over a number of weeks.
With over 40 pallets of sod and the right combination of community spirit and manpower, what stood as an unkempt property has been transformed into a relaxing, shaded downtown area with endless possibility.
“We are hoping that we could either have a business, or perhaps lease the lot to the city to use as a park,” Owens said. “Right now the goal is to get that area sodded up and looking like a very nice area where people can go to relax.”
For more information about the Wharton Economic Development Corporation strategic plans and projects, visit the WEDC website.