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Feature Stories for Thursday, August 30, 2001

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
The Crown Point Network offers a preview of weekly cover stories.

Winfield tower opposed

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

WINFIELD - Residents of the Meadows subdivision told the Town Council on Aug. 21 that they do not want to see a 285-foot cellular tower near their neighborhood.
     The possibility was first brought to the town's attention at an Aug. 8 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting when developer Tom Simstad petitioned for the tower, which would be used by several communications companies.
     Residents are concerned that if the tower is built, their subdivision will be aesthetically scarred.
     "I moved here a little over three years ago and I was told what a serene environment the town was along with the sense of country living that most other surrounding areas do not have," said Meadows resident Jim Shinovich. "If this tower is built it will be an eyesore in our subdivision. Mr. Simstad told us that nothing like this would ever be built when we purchased our homes."
     Residential research through NIPSCO showed that the largest towers in the region are between 150 and 175 feet, with only one tower of 200 feet located on the Indiana State Toll Road.
     Rumors had it that the Town Council had already agreed on putting the tower near the Meadows subdivision.
     Town Council President Joyce Furto responded by saying, “We have not come to any decision about where and when a cellular tower will be constructed in the town. I am definitely not in favor of having a cell tower and we will not make any decision until we have researched it more.”
Town Attorney George Patrick explained to the public that a cell tower will eventually be built in the town because legal intervention from the provider almost always overturns a town or city council's decision.
     "We can continue to say "no" to those who want to build a tower in this town but the courts always have the final say," Patrick said. "And from past precedent the courts almost always rule in favor of the tower supplier."
     Homeowners with children complained that radiation could cause future health problems.
     Patrick countered that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 rules out health concerns as a reason to deny building a tower.
     "Studies have shown that minimal radiation is emitted from the towers and, thus, cannot be a reason to deny one in a town or city."
     The board has made no decision on whether the tower will be constructed near the Meadows subdivision because Simstad deferred the request indefinitely on August 8.

END

Old high school dilemma continues

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The school corporation's construction manager presented cost estimates Monday for five possible reconfigurations of the current Crown Point High School, all of them well over school officials' borrowing limit of $18 million.
     Larry Koenes of Skillman Corp. told the School Board and administrators that "the building is extremely complicated" and is "worn out."
     Even its newest sections, which are about 28 years old, are outdated, Koenes said.
Koenes outlined five options for the school: to use it as a kindergarten through eighth-grade school; a seventh- and eighth-grade school; a kindergarten through sixth-grade school; a sixth- through eighth-grade school; and to tear the building down and build a seventh- and eighth-grade school on the site.
     All of the options, barring the last one, include keeping the athletic and music areas of the building, including the swimming pool and auditorium.
     The first option - K-8 - would include the demolition of 66,734 square feet, the construction of 33,300 new square feet, and the renovation of 122,544 square feet at a cost of $28,325,930.
     The second option - 7-8 - would include the demolition of 11,654 square feet, the renovation of 177,624 square feet, and no new construction at a cost of $27,316,922.
     The third option - K-6 - would include the demolition of 179,252 square feet, the renovation of 9,695 square feet, and the construction of 76,380 new square feet at a cost of $27,470,892.
     The fourth option - 6-8 - would be exactly the same as the 7-8 option.
     The fifth option - building a new 7-8 school on the site - would include the demolition of 337,835 square feet and the construction of 198,840 new square feet at a cost of $33,136,179.
     School Board member Michael McCormick immediately questioned the building sizes for the various options. All of the first four are far larger than most schools with the same grade configurations.
     Koenes noted that one of the assumptions he was told to use was that the athletic and performing arts areas would be kept, and those add a significant amount of space that would not be found at most elementary and middle schools.
      McCormick also asked that if the 6-8 option, which in the Skillman study was considered a 1,100 student building, were to be reduced to 750-800 students, the cost would be reduced to the $18 million borrowing cap.
     Koenes said options like that could be explored using the basic study Skillman has done.
     McCormick also raised the idea of abandoning the high school as a school. When the new high school is built, he said, the school corporation will have plenty of building space in the city.
     According to a new demographic study prepared by the administration, the only space pressure will be in Winfield.
     Superintendent H. Steve Sprunger urged the board to consider the recommendation made this year by a grade configuration committee to use the current high school as a 6-8 middle school and Taft as a fifth-grade only school.
Sprunger also urged the board to consider the commitments made by former boards and administrators - essentially to using the high school as a second 6-8 middle school.
     "I don't know that there is a wrong decision," Sprunger told the board. But "I don't know that there is a right decision."
     On the cost estimates, "I think we're all shocked by the numbers tonight," Sprunger said.
     But he said he believes the "soft costs" - calculated by Skillman at about 35 percent of the construction cost of each option - can be brought down, and that "value engineering" can reduce construction costs.
     Koenes told the board they need to make their decision in the "next few months" in order for construction to begin in the summer of 2003, when high school students leave the current high school for the new one.
     Once the decision on the current school is made, "it's going to be a lengthy process" of public hearings, building design, and other activity, Koenes said.

END

New school project stays on schedule

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - "Things are going very well" with the construction of the new Crown Point High School, Pat Portteus of Skillman Corp. told the School Board Monday.
     He said a significant amount of site work is underway, especially at the track and football field; that steel erection in the easternmost unit of the building is continuing; and that mechanical work is continuing on the interior.
     "It's starting to look like the artist's renderings," he said of the school.
     On the site work, Portteus said the plan is for seeding to begin this fall. That would give the football field a couple seasons to grow.
     On mechanical work, Portteus said that "we hope to have (the building) heated and cooled by itself in coming seasons."
     Planning on the extension of Main Street is continuing, Portteus said, and plans will go to the Crown Point engineer for approval in the next month.
The first step of the road extension will be to take Main Street to the front entrance of the school.
     Portteus also said the project remains on budget.
If anything is behind schedule, he said, it's masonry work.
     "We never have sufficient masons," he said in response to a question from board president Thomas Hoffman. "There aren't enough masons in the state."
     But Portteus said Gough Construction is doing a "very good job" and he has no concerns about masonry work delaying the project.
     Some of the schedule has been adjusted - for example, installation of windows - but masonry delays "won't impact the end result," he said.

END

For questions concerning the Star Newspaper or content on their articles, please contact
Star-Register Publications
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P.O. Box 419
Crown Point, IN 46307
(219) 663-4212

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