Town could revisit plans for historic district

2013-07-20T19:08:00Z 2013-07-20T23:29:23Z Town could revisit plans for historic districtChas Reilly, (219) 662-5324

MERRILLVILLE | Plans for Merrillville's old town could receive new input regarding an enhancement of the historic district, town officials said.

Councilman Shawn Pettit asked to revisit plans created to enhance the district, which runs along 73rd Avenue from Mississippi Street to Van Buren Street.

The Arsh Group started creating the report nearly 10 years ago, Pettit said.

The project included street improvements, such as new lighting, landscaping and raised planters. There also were proposals then for historical markers and a rail car restaurant.

Merrillville spent about $25,000 for the plan. Pettit estimates the town could spend a fraction of that to have the report updated.

Part of the process to advance plans for historic district improvements includes selecting members for the town's historic preservation commission.

In March this year, the council adopted an ordinance forming the commission.

Town Council President Carol Miano said she is responsible for appointing members to the panel. Interested residents have contacted her about serving, but she hasn't yet made the appointments, she said.

"I have to make time for this," Miano said.

Councilman Richard Hardaway said he has noticed many communities — much smaller than Merrillville — that have aesthetically pleasing and well maintained historic areas.

"There's no reason why we can't be the same way," Hardaway said.

Although improvements identified in updated plans could be beneficial for Merrillville, he isn't certain how the town would pay for them.

Aside from reviewing plans for historic district enhancements, Merrillville's historic preservation commission would set rules and regulations for maintaining the district's existing historic structures.

Pettit said those rules and regulations are important for that area.

He recalled a historical home on 73rd Avenue near Madison Street. The home, constructed between 1870 and 1890, was abandoned more than 10 years ago. In April 2010, the town was forced to demolish it because of its declining condition.

"I don't want to see that happen again," Pettit said of razing historical structures.

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