Merrillville buys Preserve property

2014-03-30T18:19:00Z Merrillville buys Preserve propertyChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | In February, it appeared Merrillville would be unable to acquire more than 20 acres of property in the Preserve subdivision.

That situation has changed.

Xavier Research Institute accepted Merrillville's offer of $58,600 for the land recently, Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said.

Xavier Research bought the land for $250 in 2010 at a Lake County tax sale.

Pettit asked to use $58,600 from the Mississippi Street tax increment financing district to buy the property near Illinois Street. The request was approved unanimously by the council.

During a February meeting, Pettit said Xavier Research hadn't accepted the town's offer.

At that time it seemed Merrillville ended its attempt at obtaining the property because councilmen decided they wouldn't pursue condemnation proceedings.

Pettit said trespassing lawsuits Xavier Research filed against Preserve homeowners with items encroaching on the property will be dismissed because Merrillville is making the purchase.

The town also decided to buy the land for drainage purposes.

Pettit said the property will be managed by Matt Lake, executive director of the town's Stormwater Utility.

The property was listed in Lake County tax sales multiple times before Xavier Research bought it in 2010.

Town officials said Merrillville was unaware it had been listed because  town officials thought the land was dedicated to Merrillville when plans for the Preserve subdivision were approved more than a decade ago.

To avoid similar situations, Lake is regularly monitoring county tax sale listings, Pettit said.

Antonio Alvarez, owner of Xavier Research, said the money he is receiving for the property will be used for economic development projects he's involved with in Northwest Indiana.

Building new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design homes in Dyer is among projects Alvarez is pursuing, he said.

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