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Feature Stories for Thursday, September 27, 2001

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

Property back to original owner

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

CEDAR LAKE - The transfer last year of ownership of the Salesian buildings located off Cline Avenue to Damir Missbrenner has been overruled.
     The property is now back in the hands of the man who purchased it from the county at auction, Sergio Urquiza.
     After court documents were sent to the Plan Commission ruling that Urquiza is the actual owner of the site instead of Missbrenner, the commission passed a motion to remove the Salesian site from the agenda until Urquiza decides what he plans to do with the property.
     Urquiza purchased the property at a public auction at the Town Hall on Dec. 11, 1999, for $340,000. Missbrenner, after the sale was final, claimed that he had actually been the high bidder when SRI, Inc., auctioned the property as part of the county sale of tax delinquent property.
     Missbrenner then filed suit to try to acquire the property. That was followed by an apparent agreement between Missbrenner and Urquiza transferring ownership to Missbrenner.
     Missbrenner went before the Plan Commission earlier this year with a proposal to build a retirement village on the property.
     Urquiza now has the option of building something completely different on the property or purchasing the rights of the engineering plans to continue the construction of retirement homes.
     Urquiza is presently renovating the old bank building located on 13200 Lake Shore Drive, which was auctioned at the same time as the Salesian property, to house an Italian-style restaurant entitled Mira Bella, or "Beautiful View."
     Urquiza paid $280,000 for the bank building.

END

Patriotism on display
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Click image for larger view 
Photo by Gene Milkowski/Star


The aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks have seen an outpouring of patriotic spirit.  Above, Lowell High School Junior ROTC presents the colors Friday night before Lowell's football game against Griffith.  

Bike trail endorsed by planners

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - The Plan Commission approved the city's plan to put a bicycle trail through the city on Sept. 19 at the final of three public meetings creating a bike network that will connect to regional trails.
     Members of the commission along with most in attendance felt that an expansion would be a definite asset to the city but that some tweaking of the plan would be needed to provide the city the most benefit.
     A number of Liberty Park residents, though, continue to fight the plan on the grounds that the trail, which would pass along the rear of Maple Street properties, would harm their privacy and expose their families to crime.
     Among commission members concerns was the fact that part of the trail would pass by the old Wolohan building proceed to Broadway and then east to Iowa Street, which Plan Commission member Robert Corbin felt could jeopardize the city's Tax Increment Financing district.
     "Part of this trail will be going right through the TIF district in our city," Corbin, also a City Council member, said. "There may be possible restrictions placed on (the TIF district) and this trail may put that at risk. I have in interest in our TIF district and do not want to lose control of it because of other projects."
     Corbin suggested that the trail be extended through Winfield out to Stoney Run Park to avoid any problems in the TIF district. The current plan is to take the existing Erie-Lackawanna Trail and then extend it south along the abandoned Conrail right-of-way.
     Special Projects Coordinator Mitch Barloga did not know if there would be federal funding for the trail if it was relocated somewhere else.
     The grant the city will be using for the bike trail is comes from the Transportation Advancement Program, of which 80 percent is funded federally and 20 percent is funded locally.
     Superintendent of the Lake County Parks Department Bob Nickovich interjected that this is the first time he has ever heard of a project such as a bike trial harming a TIF district.
     "I have never heard of something like this holding back economic development. What I can say is that if we have to modify the trail we may have to modify the grant also. We need to make sure that the changes lend to the continuity of the trail to continue to receive the grant. (The Indiana Department of Transportation) will not withdraw the grant if the trail is moved a few blocks here or there but it will not give additional funds if modified until we go through the application process again."
     Also at the meeting, Roy Robinson, representing the National Parks, reported to the commission that a recent survey of people who live near other bike trails in the state showed an overwhelming percentage felt that the trails were an asset to their community.
     "More than 90% of the people polled in this survey found that the trails around them were a safe way for transportation, were viewed as a favorable asset to their community and those residents adjacent to the trails felt that the trail (either) had no effect or increased their overall property value."
     Plan Commission President Patt Patterson allowed only residents of the city to speak, meaning residents of Liberty Park, who argued strenuously against the plan at previous meetings, could not speak.
     The Plan Commission approved the trail up to Broadway, but not the section that would extend east to Iowa Street.

END

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Crown Point, IN 46307
(219) 663-4212

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