Merrillville officials hope to boost north end image

2013-09-23T19:55:00Z 2013-09-24T10:12:07Z Merrillville officials hope to boost north end imageChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
September 23, 2013 7:55 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | Some town officials think there is a misconception plaguing north Merrillville.

Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said some people believe that area is more prone to crime than other portions of town.

Hardaway said there have been some businesses interested in locating in north Merrillville, but the "stigma" placed on the area might have prevented some of those plans from advancing.

Police Chief Joseph Petruch said crime isn't concentrated in one area of town.

He referred to a report showing residential and business burglaries reported this year have been scattered throughout Merrillville.

The report shows the north end of Broadway, 57th Avenue near Cleveland Street, Taft Street near U.S. 30 and Merrillville Road north of 93rd Avenue are among locations in which burglaries have been reported.

Town officials want to revitalize Broadway in north Merrillville, and they plan to offer vacant building tax abatement to fill empty stores from 68th Place to Merrillville's north boundary.

Town Manager Bruce Spires said it's a two-year abatement in which a business would pay no property taxes in the first year and 50 percent in the second year.

Besides the tax break, Hardaway believes Merrillville must improve the reputation of that area for revitalization efforts to be effective.

"We, as elected officials, have to do a better job of promoting that end of town," he said.

Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said people might have a negative perception of north Broadway when they see there are several vacant buildings.

That's among the reasons Merrillville has put an emphasis on filling the stores.

"That north end is important to the town," Guernsey said.

Although there are empty buildings on Broadway, there also are several others stores that have been open there for several years.

If that area was "continually riddled with crime, they wouldn't stay there," Hardaway said.

He said the owner of the City Mall on Broadway near 53rd Avenue has contributed to creating a safe environment for shoppers by hiring off-duty police officers to provide security at the business.

"I think that visibility is helping," Hardaway said.

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