Mayor Keith Soderquist and the administration, staff, and employees of the City of Lake Station, Indiana have been working hard to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, through rebuilding homes, rebuilding infrastructure, and rebuilding parks and recreational opportunities. Many of these improvements are long overdue and will greatly affect the future of the city and its residents.
It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project
To help restore neighborhoods after the hard economic times have made their mark, the City of Lake Station has invested in rebuilding homes, quite literally, in order to bring beauty back to the city and inspire others to do the same. Soderquist says, “This is something I wanted to start years ago and the time was right. We started this project at the later part of 2013. It’s called the It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project and it was inspired by the movie. There were situations in Lake Station where the homeowners backed out of their mortgage and the bank had to maintain and the home. But that isn’t the bank’s business—they’re in the business of banking, so we had to deal with unruly lawns and deteriorating homes. Through this program, four homes were deeded to the city from the bank and we assessed what it would take to turn the home around.”
The first home, a three bedroom with a 1 ½ car garage and full basement, was restored with a new roof, new flooring, and was completely gutted and remodeled after damaged by flood. The city spent $28,000 in repairs, as budgeted by the city council. “It’s in a prime location, but the house sat for four years. It fell apart. It is right in the center of a nice block and people were moving away because it hurt the appeal of the block. People came in from out of town and saw it and it was embarrassing. But now, people are inspired by the remodel and they want their relatives to buy it. The point is to get a family to move to Lake Station or stay in Lake Station. This is our way of trying to correct the problem and reverse the problem and hopefully it will be contagious and people will want to take care of their homes. We want to lead by example and inspire other neighbors on the block,” says Soderquist.
The city of Lake Station plans to continue the It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project with the other four other homes they own. Soderquist says, “We will put this first one on the market in March and we plan to list it in mid to upper $80,000. All the money made will go back into the economic development fund for the remodel of the other homes. We will plan to get the next two done this year.”
Since Mayor Soderquist took office, one of the issues that has been on the top of his agenda has been the water quality in the city. After a period of data gathering and analysis, the plan was made to replace the four wells that have reached the end of their useful lives, built in the 1950s, and an additional fifth well was planned for construction. The city, rather than a private profit-seeking firm, embarked on this project to save Lake Station customers money. The project began in 2013 and will be finished this year. It means that the city will have increased their water production by 35 percent so they can be self-supportive and not have to rely on outside companies. Plus, a water main break can be treated much quicker by the city rather than a firm located in Indianapolis. In addition, manual read water meters are being replaced for better accuracy of use and supervisory control and data acquisition systems are being installed. The city’s water filtration plant and new water mains are both complete and the plant will be turned on this spring, resulting in very clear, odorless, safe, and drinkable water.
Field of Dreams
The Field of Dreams outdoor sports complex has already given residents and their families the ability to play team sports and enjoy recreation without having to travel to other towns and cities, is scheduled for much additional work in 2014, as soon as weather breaks. Soderquist says, “We are building a brand new playground at the park so when little children go with the family to watch their brothers and sisters play baseball, they can play on the playground. We plan to open this playground in-mid April. We are also putting in a skate park for our skateboarders which will be a 100 foot by 100 foot concrete slab with equipment ramps. This will also be completed this spring. Also this spring we will build a facility in the center of the four baseball fields that will feature a concession stand, bathrooms, and on the top floor, an announcing stand. The fourth field will be finished this spring as well. On the north part of the field we will begin clearing out, leveling, and landscaping the area that will become the football field and we have that work slated to finish this fall. So next year, residents of Lake Station can anticipate enjoying a really nice mature sod they can play on.”