CROWN POINT | Community leaders believe a new highway interchange on the city's east side and an expanded bicycle trail on its west side are pumping vitality into a city historically known as Lake County's hub.
"We're right at the center of things," Mayor David Uran said.
The September unveiling of the 109th Avenue interchange at Interstate 65 opened a new artery of accessibility not only for travelers on the interstate but between the city and points east, including Winfield and Lakes of the Four Seasons.
Officials expect the interchange to spark economic development.
A nearly 2-mile extension of the Erie-Lackawanna bike/hike trail opened in November, making it possible for off-road travel between the city and points as far north as Hammond.
"It's a great quality-of-life project," Uran said.
Less visible but of equal importance is the city's effort to eliminate perennial flooding problems experienced in some parts of the city, Uran said. Work already is under way on a $1.4 million project in the Fashion Terrace subdivision to restore an aging stormwater system.
On the horizon is a new library planned for the downtown square to replace an aging and outgrown building farther south. Also planned is the more than $6 million in renovations this year to a sports complex on North Street with new playing fields, better parking and improved access from the nearby 109th Avenue interchange.
The completed sports complex is a key component in the city's vitality, Uran said.
Central to the city's attractiveness is its school system, with academic and other successes helping attract residents, Uran said.
"We're all quite proud of the school system," said Kent Jeffirs, a lawyer in the city and the chairman-elect of the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce.
With new-home construction increasing, the completion of the 109th Avenue interchange and other developments, "we're positioned ideally for future growth," Jeffirs said.