Highland focuses on redevelopment, quality of life

2013-03-17T00:00:00Z Highland focuses on redevelopment, quality of lifeBy Michael Griffin nwitimes.com
March 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Highland is one of the many communities that contributes to what is right in the region. As a 102-year-old incorporated community, Highland is finding new life pursuing redevelopment and economic development as well as reinvesting in its quality of life resources cherished by residents and neighbors alike.

Always having a highly regarded Parks and Recreation Department, the town recently completed a retrofit and reconstruction of its community center. On Feb. 12, the Highland Parks and Recreation hosted a grand opening for the Lincoln Community Center, which is an architectural asset for the community. Designed with the “mid-century modern motif,” the facility features 85,524 square feet of recreational opportunity, most notably hosting a richly appointed fitness center, with a growing membership.

Employing prudent stewardship with economic development and redevelopment tools, the town is now seeing some welcome new investment. Highland’s Redevelopment Commission working with the Town Council has successfully seen a former gasoline station site transforming to the new site for a Culver’s family restaurant. Further, a recently vacated auto sale site will soon be host to a new Volkswagen dealership, associated with the same ownership group of Volkswagen of Orland.

The same stewardship has successfully retained existing businesses, encouraging renewal and reinvestment. The town is proud to be the headquarters of SVT LLC, which is the corporate umbrella of Strack and Van Til’s, Ultra and Town and Country retail grocers. SVT recently expanded, remodeled and converted a former warehouse and administrative office to its headquarters facility, electing to remain in Highland.

Implementation of a facade improvement program has brought appealing renewal to many businesses in the downtown business district. The first participant in the facade program, at 8715 Kennedy Ave., now looks over facade refurbishments for Traditions Restaurant and Apex Home Improvement, all near the intersection of Kennedy and Highway avenues. Highland looks forward to Les Brothers Restaurant participating in the program soon. All of these businesses represent significant investment in the community and contribute to its economic health and stability.

Highland enjoys a vibrant and engaged Chamber of Commerce, which ably speaks for the commercial sector but also fully participates as a community focused group as well, hosting the Midwest Zest Fest, Bunny Breakfast, and an annual bicycle ride promoting Highland’s 3.5 mile bike trail.

Notably, working cooperatively with Hammond and North Township, the northern section of the bike trail will soon be fully connected to the trails in Wicker Memorial Park, which are connected to Hammond’s bike trails. Long-term, these are eventually planned to connect to the Chicago system of trails, providing a bike route that runs from the Lake County Government Complex to Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

As an elected official, please forebear me to add that the people of Highland are a wonderful boss. It’s a great place to live, work, play and serve. I commend Highland to all as a vibrant community solidly contributing to “what is right with the region."

Michael Griffin is Highland's clerk-treasurer. The opinions are the writer's.

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