approve wine bar
By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer
CROWN POINT - After two unsuccessful attempts to sway
city officials to approve a plan for a restaurant, John Desmaretz
finally got his wish Monday as the Plan Commission voted 5-1 to allow
him to proceed with the opening of Naughty Grapes at 513 N. Main St.
The commission had previously told Desmaretz to
have a lease agreement for proposed valet parking, state approval for a
curb cut entering the premises, and a liquor license.
With insufficient parking for the restaurant,
Desmaretz has proposed using valet parking.
"I got a verbal agreement from Tom Collins of Luke Oil a few days
ago stating that I would be able to lease his property for five years to
park my customers if needed," explained Desmaretz.
The only problem with the lease is that it gives Luke Oil the option to
cancel it with 60 days notice.
Ed Grimmer, an attorney whose office is at 603
Main St., commented, "It is great that Mr. Desmaretz has a verbal
agreement with Luke Oil but I can guarantee that Mr. Collins eventually
wants to sell his property instead of leasing it. That is why he has a
60 day notification clause if any potential buyers surface."
Mayor James Metros supported Desmaretz's
off-street parking concept by comparing it to what city residents have
to deal with regularly at the downtown square.
"We have had off-square parking used
downtown in our city for years," he
said. "Twelve Islands
restaurant does not have adequate parking for all of its customers. All
of the stores on the square depend on off-site parking and the use of
Desmaretz further explained that he has
preliminary acceptance for a curb cut entering the restaurant parking
lot. Members of the commission warned Desmaretz that final approval from
the Indiana Department of Transportation was necessary before he could
Desmaretz also submitted documentation of the
Alcoholic Beverage Commission's approval for a liquor license.
Desmaretz will face the city Board of Zoning
Appeals on April 23 for the approval of off-site parking.
time needed on grade vote
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - A divided School Board decided
Monday to put off a decision on the grade configuration of its schools
until it has held work sessions on the matter.
A motion to implement the administration's
recommendation on the matter - that the six elementary schools include
kindergarten through fourth-grade, that Taft hold fifth- and
sixth-grades, and that the current high school become a seventh- and
eighth-grade middle school - was made by Thomas Hoffman and seconded by
Daniel Root, but after lengthy discussion Michael McCormick moved to
table the matter, and received the support of Bart Aiello and Root.
Byron Hubbard joined Hoffman in opposing
tabling the matter.
Opposition to the administration's plan has
centered around the ideas that having students attend four schools means
too many transitions; that grouping all fifth- and sixth-graders in one
building limits the possibilities for participation on Spell Bowl, Math
Bowl, and similar teams; and that the K-6 elementaries allow for role
model and mentoring opportunities between older and younger children.
Winfield parent Bridget Harrison said the
administration's recommendation is opposed by most parents, and
"the unpopularity of this configuration is in and of itself reason
to study other configurations."
McCormick said there had not been sufficient
consideration of alternatives, and that the administration and board
president Hubbard were forcing the matter.
He read from a letter to Hubbard
requesting a delay in the matter and the scheduling of several work
sessions. Hubbard responded, McCormick said, with a letter saying the
administration deserved a decision on their recommendation.
McCormick said he has accepted Superintendent
H. Steve Sprunger's conclusion that the original plan for two 6-8 middle
school is unfeasible because Taft cannot be transformed into such a
But McCormick offered another alternative,
based on his conception of the school corporation as a
"company" serving "customers" and having the
responsibility of offering "choice."
School officials should consider turning the
current high school into a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, and
giving parents throughout the school district the option to send their
children to it.
The existing elementary schools and Taft would
keep their current grades.
It's not the School Board's job to "engage
in social engineering" by saying "all fifth-graders should be
in one building," McCormick said.
"I firmly believe in providing customer
choice," he concluded.
McCormick asked Sprunger if he supported this idea.
Sprunger said he is open to it in general, but
"I don't know that choice is necessarily workable in this
Root, a member of the task force that
originally concluded the K-4, 5-6, 7-8 configuration was best, said the
configuration would lead to smaller class sizes, offer more
extra-curricular activities for fifth- and sixth-graders, and prepare
the school corporation for future growth.
The configuration is not common, but is working
where it has been tried, he said.
Hoffman agreed, arguing that financially the
administration's recommendation was best.
Aiello asked whether time constraints made an immediate vote necessary.
"Is tonight a critical deadline?"
said Sprunger. "Absolutely not."
The board could delay as late as next fall, he