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School annex process begins

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT-The process of annexing the site of the proposed new high school began Monday when the City Council accepted the school corporation’s petition for annexation and set a meeting of its Annexation Committee for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
    That committee will go over the responsibilities the city would take on by annexing the approximately 120-acre site at Burrell Drive and Indiana Avenue and will consider how the site fits into future development south of the city.
    School corporation attorney David Wilson asked the council to move "as expeditiously as possible" on the annexation.
    "We firmly believe that this time the school is going to be built," he said. "We want it built in the city of Crown Point."
    Wilson cited a desire to have as close a relationship as possible with the city and the benefit of having Crown Point police service as prime reasons for annexation.
    Another advantage of annexation is city infrastructure. Mayor James Metros said water and sewer utilities have the capacity to handle the new school.
    He also said the school corporation will be expected to pay the cost of connecting to those utilities.
    "They have not asked the city of Crown Point to bear the brunt of anything that affects an entire school district," Metros said.
    However, Metros said property owners further south of the school site who are interested in developing their land may be interested in participating in the utility extension to make sure any development on their property will have access to utilities.
    As for roadwork that will be required to accommodate the new school’s traffic, Metros said the city, schools and potential developers will need to share information on their needs.
    One frequent topic of discussion is the extension of Main Street south to 133rd Avenue.
    For developers south of the current city limits to take advantage of city utilities, their property would have to be annexed into the city too. City Councilman Jack Kemp, R-4th, suggested the city start examining the area between Indiana Avenue and Marshall Street south to 133rd Avenue.
    He said it would be a mistake for the city to allow that area to develop under county jurisdiction, which would mean the use of septic and mound systems for sewage.
    Metros also argued for annexation of the school site on the grounds that the building would then be built under city standards and would be inspected by city inspectors.
    The City Council has until the last week of July to decide on the annexation.
    Besides annexation, a series of meetings between school and city officials will be held to "pound out the details of how the new school (project) will proceed," Metros said.
    The Board of Public Works, Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and City Council will all be involved, he said.
Parrish says good-bye to church

Historical building razed

By Erin O'Deen
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT — Parishioners of the First Presbyterian Church of Crown Point this week bid farewell to the building where the congregation gathered for services for more than 150 years.
    Several of the church members watched as demolition of the historic Court Street building began early Monday morning and continued Tuesday. Construction of a new, modern church at the same site will begin next month.
    The crews carefully took the building apart piece by piece so they would not hurt the surrounding buildings. They have been especially careful not to damage the Crown Point Library that is only six feet away from the demolition.
    While the demolition is bittersweet for most of the parishioners, they said this is the best alternative for the century-old structure.
    "The building just became too expensive to maintain," said parishioner Janis Carpenter of Crown Point.
    Others said the inaccessibility to parts of the church was too much for the older members.
    "It would have cost just as much to save the church as it would have to rebuild," said parishioner Arlowene Hoffman of Crown Point. "There was just no way to save it because the foundation and the walls were crumbling. But it’s still said to watch it come down."
    The church’s razing has been sharply criticized by some people who contend that tearing down such an old building isn’t right because there are too many memories tied up in the bricks. But Hoffman countered these feelings.
    "People say that we shouldn’t tear it down," Hoffman said. "But when our older members can’t make it up the three different flights of stairs, it just doesn’t seem right."
    "We are very attached to the building, but that’s all it is – a building," Carpenter said. "All the people gathered out here – we are the church."

    The construction for the new church will begin in July and the congregation is hoping to have the roof on before winter. Parishioners are hoping the church will be finished by June 2000.
    The drawings for the new church are on display at the church offices on 218 S. Court Street.
    The new church will have stained glass windows, where the older one did not. It will also have an elevator and will be handicapped accessible.
    Parishioners decided they did not want to take away from the historical beauty of the downtown area by constructing a building that looks too modern.
    The new construction will look much like a church that is more than a century old.
    "We wanted to keep up with the integrity of downtown and with the flavor of the old church," Carpenter said. "We are staying here to keep up with the heritage."
    Some of the debris from the old church will be recycled into new materials, and some will be used to build a wall inside the new church. Some have chosen to nickname it the "Whaling Wall," in reference to biblical scriptures.
    While the demolition of one church and the construction of another in the same spot doesn’t make sense to some, it seems logical for the parishioners.
    "This wasn’t a hasty decision that was made to demolish this church," said parishioner Gene Carpenter of Crown Point. "We wanted to continue to be one of the anchors of downtown."
    "It doesn’t seem right that we should be so attached to the bricks of this building," Carpenter continued. "We are the servants of God – the building isn’t."
    Rev. Clinton Roberts, senior pastor at the church, described the new building as a birthday present to the 21st Century.
    Although the new construction is bittersweet, Roberts said the members "have a deep belief that God is here as we go through this."
    He said the old church will be missed, but "sometimes we have to let go of something that is good to achieve something that is better."
    Church services are being held, temporarily, at St. Anthony Medical Center’s Marian Education Center.


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