M'ville historic commission initially approved

2013-11-12T21:15:00Z 2013-11-12T23:09:08Z M'ville historic commission initially approvedChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
November 12, 2013 9:15 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | A Historic Preservation Commission looks to be forthcoming in Merrillville.

An ordinance approved by the Town Council on first reading Tuesday would create the five-member panel. Town Attorney John Bushemi said the measure could be adopted during the Nov. 26 council meeting.

If the commission is established, the town would appoint members who would serve staggered terms.

An initial task of the commission would be to recommend the boundary for a historic district, Bushemi said. It's possible the district would include an area along 73rd Avenue from Mississippi Street to Van Buren Street.

Once a boundary is designated, the commission could focus on other aspects within the district, including possible improvement projects.

The Arsh Group has established concepts for streetscapes, landscaping, decorative lighting and other features that can be incorporated into the district.

Councilman Don Spann, who was among five councilmen who voted in favor of the commission, believes creating a historic district is a "unique type of thing for this town."

Councilwoman Chrissy Barron abstained from voting on the ordinance.

Barron said she hasn't declared support or opposition for the commission because she is unaware of how the town would fund possible projects in the district.

She said Merrillville employees haven't had raises in years, and it could be difficult to approve spending within the historic district before employees receive pay increases.

Councilman Shawn Pettit has said potential grants and Merrillville's Mississippi Street and Broadway tax increment financing districts could fund enhancement projects.

During a meeting last month, Council President Carol Miano said she has started examining the possibility of acquiring the former Old Mill and Carriage House properties. Both of the buildings are near 73rd Avenue and Madison Street, which would be in the potential historic district boundary.

Miano said the town could remodel the buildings and rent space in them for businesses.

Barron thinks the town shouldn't start getting into "the real estate business."

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