History of the New Chauncey Neighborhood Association

Written by our own Carl Griffin

I want to thank Peter Bunder for asking that I present a history of the New Chauncey Neighborhood Association, and also NCNA co-founding member Betty Delgass who contributed significantly to the completeness of this history.

In the mid-‘70’s investors were purchasing many of the single-family dwellings in the neighborhood. The long-term stability of the neighborhood was not the primary goal of these folks. Recognizing the loss of high-quality housing stock in New Chauncey as a threat to its viability, a group of residents organized the New Chauncey Neighborhood Association. Those residents included Lee and Carol Kreul, Tom Ohlgren, Tom Wratten, Lois Bower, Nick and Betty Delgass and Nola Gentry.

Neighborhood association members wasted no time in taking several actions that continue to benefit the city and its residents to this day. One of the earliest tasks was rezoning of the New Chauncey area from R2 to R1B. The school crossing guard program was expanded to include additional intersections in the neighborhood. In response to several vehicle accidents at the corner of Stadium and Salisbury Streets,
the association advocated for 4-way stop signs there. Betty Delgass related to me that the solution was brought to fruition on a very cold morning one January. Mayor Sonya Marjoram and a half-dozen neighborhood residents witnessed the installation of the new stop signs and subsequently stood in the middle of the street to celebrate with glasses and a bottle of champagne. Not surprisingly, the after party took place at Betty and Nick‘s house with coffee and sweet rolls.

In the decades since those early years, the neighborhood association has continued to work with the Area Plan Commission, Purdue Research Foundation, West Lafayette city government and others to advocate for all of its residents on issues including establishing the neighborhood parks that we enjoy, code enforcement, opposition of spot re-zoning, rental certification, sidewalk inspections, rezoning the neighborhood to bring it up to date with the New Unified Zoning Ordinance, establishment of the New Chauncey area on the National Registry of Historic Places,
and development of the New Chauncey Neighborhood Land-Use Plan.

Events more social in nature have included home tours, garden tours, garage sales, a newsletter, annual Halloween parades, Soup and Square dance night, picnics, establishing a website for the association, responding to email questions that come into the website, daylily plantings, and design of the NCNA daylily logo which can be seen throughout the neighborhood on street signs. While some might consider these items less substantive than rezoning and rental inspections, they serve to strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood and help nurture in its residents a sense of belonging.

Our experience with Covid over the past 30 months has made these events less feasible, and as we have witnessed, even now people are less willing to participate in many public gatherings than they would have readily done in the past.

Living in a Big Ten University town, we have many neighbors today who did not live here 5 years ago. I hope that with the discussions we initiate tonight, the residents of New Chauncey neighborhood are again willing to step forward and to meet the challenges and create the opportunities that make our neighborhood a wonderful place for people.

The NCNA supports the ongoing sustainability and historic preservation of the New Chauncey Neighborhood in West Lafayette Indiana