C.P. family may lose home to library expansion

Resident worried about eminent domain process
2009-09-23T00:00:00Z C.P. family may lose home to library expansionKathleen Quilligan - kathleen.quilligan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5331 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Ronda Tompkins says she had an agreement with her landlord to allow her family to continue living in their home on Joliet Street until her children graduated from high school.

And that's not the only reason she's frustrated by the possibility of losing the home through eminent domain.

"It's just wrong. That's it. Short and quick. It's wrong," Tompkins said Tuesday, sitting in the front yard of the home at 801 W. Joliet St. that she's lived in the last six years.

About two years ago, Tompkins saw an appraiser at the house, but she said the home's owner, Wanda Stang, told her she had no intention of selling.

That's why it came as a surprise when a neighbor showed her an article in The Times earlier this month outlining the Crown Point Community Library's plan to ask the Lake County Council for permission to condemn the house on 5 acres west of downtown for a new larger library and media center. The council voted in favor of the library's request to sue under Indiana's eminent domain law to have a judge set a price.

Neither Crown Point Community Library Director Lynn Frank nor Library Board member Patrick Schuster, who attend the County Council meetings with Frank, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Schuster has said the library looked at other locations, but the site at the corner of Joliet Street and Chase Drive was the only one the library could afford. Frank has said the library has doubled the number of items that the library's current location is supposed to house.

Stang said Wednesday the idea of losing the property "breaks my heart."

Her son, Perkin Stang, said it was the family's plan that eventually he would move into the home and renovate it, but he hasn't done so yet because he was out of town for college and medical school. Now an obstetrician and gynecologist, he's living with his parents while the situation is sorted out.

"We never intended to sell it," he said. "(It feels like) they're slamming it down our throats. They didn't communicate effectively."

Tompkins, originally from Hammond, said she moved her family to Crown Point six years ago for the school system. She was upset when a county councilman said he was pleased the house was a rental property, rather than an owner-occupied home.

"That was embarrassing," she said. "We're good people, good tenants, and we don't cause problems. We have to rent now. That's just our situation."

If the courts rule in favor of the library, Tompkins said she and her family will find another place to rent in Crown Point.

"This is our home."

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