Muncie’s newest park, Cornerstone Park, will soon host classes normally held inside Cornerstone Center for the Arts. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was June 2 with Mayor Dennis Tyler, local artists and community members in attendance.

While Cornerstone Center for the Arts did not contribute financially to the park, it will manage and maintain the park and have classes such as "plain air painting," where artists go into the elements and draw inspiration from what surrounds them.

“We can do painting out here, we can do drawing, we have graffiti art. … Really what it is is a beautiful gateway to the east side of downtown Muncie," said Jeff Robinson, community relations director for Cornerstone Center for the Arts.

Before the area was a park, it was Holiday Cleaners, a dry cleaning and laundry facility.

"It wasn’t a very attractive gateway into downtown,” Robinson said. "More than anything, this park is an attractive centerpiece, and with the development of the east side of town. We’re just very, very excited that it’s here.”

Leon Crosby has been an art teacher at Cornerstone for three years. His child was enrolled in classes there, and other instructors encouraged him to teach there himself.

“I’ve just been painting as long as I can remember, it’s just been with me. The passion is part of who I am. … I love it; I can’t stop,” Crosby said. “I was here for the groundbreaking and now I’m here for the opening, so it’s really cool to see it turn from a corner where there was just nothing except for trees and weeds to this.”

Mayor Dennis Tyler said community projects such as parks are making the difference in Muncie today, and while every city across the country faces challenges, what you do to overcome those challenges is what matters.

“I think when you see these types of projects end up being successful — and with the turnout we've had from people all over the community to celebrate this dedication — I think it says the sky's the limit, that people are starting to see Muncie in a very positive way," Tyler said. 

Tyler said he believes the park will serve as inspiration to local artists and children dreaming of becoming artists.

“What I hope is when you see young Muncie artists being able to do something like this in one of our parks that it may energize other young artists — and artists of all ages — to want to do the same thing and be a part of it," Tyler said. "And that's how I think we'll build our arts community."

Ball State alumni Adam Buente and Kyle Perry designed the sculpture “Extess” featured in the park.

“The idea was to try to create something that was really eclectic but figure out a way to unify it into one sort of central concept, which was trying to sort of unify all the cultures and diversity in Muncie into one perspective: the future vision of Muncie,” Perry said.

Josh Perkins of Jay-Crew Landscape came up with the vision for the park. The whole process, from design to construction, took around two a half years. Perkins said the process was “incredible” because he saw the “eyesore” of the old building and then sat down with a sheet of paper to draw out his vision.

“You don't often get projects where you're working with the community in our line of work. Normally, you're working for businesses or homeowners,” Perkins said. “To do a public project, those only come around so often. And then to have influence in the design was just really awesome, a lot of fun."

Perkins said his main hope for the park is for the entire community to enjoy it and make use of it.

"I know that skateboarders [and] guys on bicycles are already using this space," he said. "It's a little rough on the concrete, but I really just like seeing people use it."