LOWELL | Nicely nestled against the gentle curves of Ind. 2 as it travels between U.S. 41 and Interstate 65, this south Lake County town is mapping its way southwest with a focus on the future.
With a newly adopted comprehensive plan as its guide, town leaders and residents plan to hold on to Lowell's small-town charm while ensuring its viability for years to come.
Judy Walters has lived in Lowell all of her 54 years.
While she cannot imagine calling any other place "home," Walters said she knows residents who have moved to Lowell, were welcomed and quickly embraced the Norman Rockwell vibe the town evokes.
"Some people keep saying we've changed and we're not a little community anymore, but I think we still have the small-town feel," Walters said.
Doug Wiseman would agree.
"I didn't even know Lowell existed until I went to college at Ball State," Wiseman, originally of Michigan City, said.
Wiseman came to Lowell in 1981 for a job. "The people were very welcoming when I arrived," he said. While Michigan City was far larger, he said he has happily adapted to small-town life.
"I can't believe how much Lowell has grown since I came here. Every school has been remodeled or is new," Wiseman said. "I like seeing the growth."
With growth comes change.
"The downside is lots of traffic congestion with only two lanes," Wiseman said. While he doesn't blame the town's growth, he said, "It breaks my heart to see downtown stores closed. The Town Council and chamber of commerce are working hard to change that."
Laura Foresta said her family appreciates the sense of community in Lowell.
Foresta, her husband, Nick, and three children moved to Lowell from Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood four and a half years ago when their oldest was entering high school.
Unwilling to continue paying for private schools and Chicago Public Schools "not an option," Foresta said plans to move to Cedar Lake were changed after "we fell in love with the home."
Foresta said she and her family got the four bedrooms, two baths, swimming pool and dishwasher that made up the house of her dreams.
Her husband wonders, "Why did we wait so long?"
Lowell affords easy access to city amenities, but is far enough removed to make her happy, Foresta said.
"I like being in the quiet away from it all ... and the people are friendly. Our children have made many friends," she said.
Wiseman said he likes his neighborhood and neighbors. He believes Lowell has retained the charm that greeted him 30 years ago.
"I like a lot of the activities for kids. Activities keep them out of trouble. I think the (Freedom) Bark Park is kind of neat. There's skateboarding, too," Wiseman said. He said he's enjoyed the Lowell Parade of Lights, children parading in Halloween costumes downtown and other events. "I like how the town gets the community involved," he said.
While plans for growth to the south and west have disturbed some residents, Foresta said the key is to plan well so as to hold on to the unique, small-town quality. "Everyplace is going to change. Nothing stays the same," she said.