law gets approval
By Kathie Godfrey
LOWELL - The Town Council unanimously approved a much-amended parade
ordinance Monday - one that promises to protect parade sponsors from
thousands of dollars in insurance and security costs threatened by a
similar ordinance proposed one year ago.
The council moved quickly to ratify the measure
following a spate of questions from Joan Bukovac, wife of Lowell Labor
Day Organization Chairman Charles "Butch" Bukovac, who sought
to clarify the details of the new ordinance as they applied to the
82-year-old Lowell Labor Day Parade, the oldest continuously-running
parade in Indiana.
Town Attorney John Kopack said the amended ordinance
has removed the requirement that parade sponsors carry $5 million worth
of liability insurance as the hotly-contest ordinance originally
In its place the town agreed to employ a 'hold
harmless waiver" which will protect the town from parade sponsors
who might bring the town into a lawsuit in the event of a
Council members said they understood, however, that
neither a waiver, nor any other legal device, will protect the town from
all legal liability during parades.
On the issue of police overtime, Town Council
President Robert Hatch, R-3rd, said the town would continue its
"tradition" of absorbing security costs for parades and events
"Funding was not the primary reason for the
ordinance," Hatch asserted. "It was a control and enforcement
But other council members and parade sponsors were
puzzled as to why the agreed-upon ordinance, which had been bandied
about in committee and in council chambers for 12 months, was such a
long time coming.
"If we didn't need the insurance that they said
we needed last year, why couldn't we have done this months ago?"
Councilwoman Karen Brooker, R-2nd, asked her fellow council
Mona Kuechenberg, business owner and member of the
Lowell Downtown Merchants Association, which sponsors the Christmas
Parade of Lights and other events, told the council she was
"elated" that the parade ordinance had been passed but asked
why it had taken 10 months to dispose of the insurance issue.
Councilman Joe Mika, D-5th, who had urged the council
to compromise on the parade ordinance issue in recent months, was not
ready to make an issue of past struggles.
"It's done," Mika told Kuechenberg.
"That's all that matters."
In another matter, the council narrowly approved
Butler, Fairman and Seufert of Merrillville as temporary consulting
engineers for town projects with a 3-2 vote.
After a failed motion by Councilman Larry Just,
R-4th, to name Commonwealth Engineers, the town's sewer engineering firm
from Indianapolis, as consulting project engineers, Mika successfully
moved to hire local firm BFS with the support of Brooker and Councilman
Ray Talarek, R-1st.
Brooker said BFS had quoted the lowest hourly figure
for the work at $71 per hour with free travel and phone time but Hatch,
who had supported hiring Commonwealth, said he thought BFS had changed
their terms following the quote given during interviews Jan. 29.
Angered at the vote results, Just alleged that
Brooker and Mika had a friendship with the Merrillville firm and had
supported a motion to hire them without justification.
"They must be your buddies," he said twice
following the vote.
Hatch said he would seek a written proposal with the
promised hourly rates from BFS prior to signing off on the matter.
In other business, the council gave preliminary
approval to a sidewalk ordinance variance that will allow merchants to
display merchandise outside their stores within a two-and-one-half foot
boundary line. Permits for the variance will cost merchants $15 each and
be effective for one year.
The display of merchandise on the sidewalks outside
downtown shops, a Lowell custom, had become an issue some months ago
when complaints led to numerous citations against merchants, who claimed
the were being unfairly harassed by the town.
gets early OK
By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer
CROWN POINT - The council chambers were packed Monday with homeowners
who were unhappy with the possible construction of a new southeast side
subdivision - Forest View Farms.
Located directly to the south of the Stillwater
subdivision, east of Northwood and north of 129th Avenue, Hawk
Development Corporation took the first of four steps in getting its
residential development passed.
"We are here today asking to rezone these 100
acres from R-1 single family to a Planned Unit Development,"
explained Jack Slager, the President of the Hawk Development
The purpose for the change was to create a
subdivision which will have a number of different types of housing,
instead of the restricted single-family used in an R-1 zoning.
The architectural plans begin with 160 carriage
homes, each of which are two story, eight unit buildings with a one-car
garage. The square footage of the homes will be between 1,100 and 1,500
with a price range from $130,000 to $160,000.
Following will be 170 "Hillside Villas"
constructed in two-, four-, or six-unit structures designed to fit in
the hillside of landscape. The units will be one story in the front and
two stories in the rear with a two-car garage.
The range in size will be from 1,400 to 1,600 square
feet with a pricing from $160,000 to $200,000.
In addition, 64 townhomes are projected to be built
in four- to six-unit compartments with a master suite on the main floor
and a two-car garage.
The size will range from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet
with a cost between $140,000 and $180,000. Lastly, 53 patio homes will
be constructed in one-story settings with two-car garages. The size of
each will range from 1400-2000 square feet with a price from $180,000 to
Most of those in attendance were not against
the creation of the new subdivision. The outcry resulted from the
increased drainage flow that will take affect with the new homes.
"I look at the existing standing water and
drainage problems," said Steve Savich, a resident of Northwood
subdivision. "I am presently standing in a backyard of water and
can tell you that the water now coming from the ditches is overflowing.
I implore you to come out to one of our subdivisions to take a
Slager explained that two detention basins will be
created to help alleviate possible flooding, but that solution fall on
"We are under-capacity to handle the water
problems that we are presently having to deal with," commented
Brian Farkas, another Northwood resident. "Lateral one of the
Beaver Dam Ditch is overburdened and needs major improvements. These
additional basins will not be enough to control all the drainage, and
the result will be devastating to the all of the homeowners in the
In addition to the drainage issue, some residents
worried as to what was going to happen to the roads, specifically 129th
Avenue, when construction began.
"It really took a long time to get 129th Avenue
repaired and looking the way it does now. I just wonder how bad it is
going to look after construction trucks drive over it for the next three
months," stated Jeff Spies, a 12-year Northwood resident.
Board members suggested that possibly a road could be
constructed from the easternmost end on 129th Avenue to Delaware Street
so that construction trucks would not have to travel through the
Slager stated that the addition was not in the
present plans but he would take the suggestion into consideration.
According to Hawk's plan, it would take approximately
five years to complete Forest View's 447 units.
The Plan Commission unanimously passed the special
use PUD. Primary plat approval will be considered at next month's
meeting on March 12.
site plan meets opposition
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - School corporation curriculum director Jim Hardman on
Monday recommended to the School Board that it adopt a grade
configuration that would keep kindergarten through fourth-grade at the
six elementary schools, transform Taft into a fifth- and sixth-grade
school, and use the current high school as a seventh- and eighth-grade
But the recommendation immediately drew criticism
from a resident, a member of the task force that made the
recommendation, and a School Board member.
Hardman defended the recommendation on several
He said bringing all fifth- and sixth-graders into
one building would provide opportunities for focusing more specifically
on the needs of students at that level, would help in the transition to
middle school, and would allow for the creation of a more consistent
"When you bring all the teachers into one
building, there is a great advantage in bringing the curriculum
together," Hardman said.
He also said the five-six school would help balance
class sizes and unite graduating classes earlier in their
The other configuration considered was creation of
two sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools.
Hardman said that option was rejected because
grouping sixth-graders with eighth-graders can lead to discipline
problems; it would not remove as many students from crowded elementary
schools; and it would mean sixth-graders would take the ISTEP exam
during a "transition year."
The 14-member grade configuration task force voted
11-3 in favor of the K-4, 5-6, 9-12 configuration.
Winfield resident Bridget Harrison spoke against the
She said officials should use the current high school
as a seventh- and eighth-grade middle school and transform Taft into a
seventh kindergarten through sixth-grade elementary school.
She said the task force recommendation would lead to
too many school changes for students; that many fifth- and sixth-graders
would miss out on activities like Spell Bowl, because the school
corporation would have only one team, rather than six; that parental
involvement would decline as a result of decreased activities; and that
the task force recommendation does not solve overcrowding
Karen Schrum, a dissenting member of the task force,
said she favors two sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools.
That was the school corporation's original position
when it decided to build a new high school, Schrum said, and she said
she will present the original plan to the board at its March 12
Board member Michael McCormick was also upset with
He pointed out that a resolution passed at his first
School Board meeting reflected the two middle school configuration, and
that he ran for election supporting that plan.
McCormick said he wouldn't overturn that resolution
without hard evidence.
"There's nothing in this board packet that gives
me any concrete data," he said.
The administration shouldn't "ask us to change
(the original resolution) without overwhelming evidence you found
something better," McCormick added.
He said he was troubled by the absence of data,
especially since board members two years ago had requested that
administrators back any proposed policy changes with a cost-benefit
McCormick told Hardman that if the administrator
needed another copy of that memo, he had extra copies.